Cape Verde Islands, Archipelago Of The

   Consisting of 10 main islands (Santiago, Maio, Boa Vista, Sal, Fogo, São Vicente, São Nicolau, Brava, Santo Antão, and Santa Luzia), the archipelago was sighted first by a Venetian navigator in Portuguese service, Alvise de Cá da Mosto, in the late 1450s. The islands' area is about 4,030 square kilometers (1,557 square miles). Prince Henry the Navigator gave the task of colonizing the islands to the Genovese António da Noli. Actual settlement began only in 1463, under King Afonso V. Captain-Donataries were granted charters to colonize and, in 1550, the city of Praia was established on the island of Santiago and became a principal center of activity. Slaves from West Africa were brought to work the islands' plantations, and millet and coconut trees were introduced as staple foods. Following attacks on the islands by French pirates, Portugal created the post of governor of Cape Verde in 1592. Until the middle of the 18th century and the reign of King José I, these islands were governed by the private captaincies. Thereafter, they were ruled directly by the king's representatives.
   Due to their geography, topography, and climate, the Cape Verde Islands lack good soil for agriculture or minerals and frequently suffer long, periodic droughts. The result of this, and until recently sparse Portuguese investment, has been that the islands have one of the poorest economies in the world. Emigration to work abroad has often been the only alternative for survival. As a result, large overseas communities of Cape Verdeans reside and work in the United States (especially in the eastern states of Rhode Island and Massachusetts) and in Portugal. In July 1975, Portugal granted independence to the Cape Verde Islands, now a republic.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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