The history of Cape Verde is typical and yet unique for its location. For three centuries, the islands were a setting for the transatlantic slave trade, exile for political prisoners of Portugal and a place of refuge for Jews and other victims of religious persecution during the Spanish-Portuguese Inquisition. But even in the 19th century, the slaves led very different lives than those of North or South America: On Cape Verde, families developed from the “free” people and slaves who lived together in peacefully and as a matter of course. Situated at the hub between Europe, America and the Indian Ocean, Cape Verde can now look back at a significant achievement: the birth of a completely new Creole culture and language, evolving from the blending of very diverse ethnic groups. The Creole people assumed a forerunner role in the independence movement of Africa in its seemingly never-ending battle against colonization. They also assumed the intellectual fatherhood for one of the most modern constitutions in one of the few pluralistic but stable systems in the region.
Discovery period, slave trade and famine
The discovers of Cape Verde, the Portuguese, described the islands upon their arrival in 1456 as “completely uninhabited.” In any case, there is still no evidence of any human life before the descoberta.
The Portuguese intended to establish new trade routes and goods, as well as expanding their knowledge of geography since Islamic traders controlled the Trans-Saharan trade of gold and slaves to the north and salt to the south. The Turks dominated the overland route along the Mediterranean for the trade of spices and fabric with India, charging high customs duties. The goal was to discover a new, Christian-controlled access to gold, slaves and spices in West Africa and India.