The story of Cape Verde begins in 1456 when Portuguese seafarers discovered the Islands and founded Ribeira Grande (now Cidade Velha) on the Island of São Vicente. This was the first European influenced town in the tropics.
At this time, the slave trade was still extremely active and settlers moved quickly to benefit from this untouched land by importing slaves from the West African coast. The Islands soon grew wealthy enough to attract pirates, including a raid in 1585 by England's Sir Francis Drake.
But this prosperity was short-lived and there was little investment in Cape Verde over a lengthy period lasting well into the 20th century. This meant that many local men had to find work on American whaling ships and even today, Cape Verdean communities along the New England coast rival's the population of Cape Verde itself.
In fact, it was the ocean liner that sparked the revival of Cape Verde and in particular the Island of Sal. Its location made it the perfect stop-over for the transportation of coal, water and livestock. When the aeroplane replaced the ocean liner, Cape Verde capitalised on this and opened an international airport on Sal in 1948.
Sal airport is now truly international with visitors arriving from all over the world. Independence from Portugal came in 1975 and today Cape Verde enjoys a very stable political structure with a growing economy. As tourism and on-island development flourishes, the Islands underlying vibrant and traditional culture remains true to its origins, with colourful Mardi Gras celebrations and the local fishing industry ensuring the unique character and soul of this emerging paradise is preserved.