According to local legend, when God was satisfied with Creation, he brushed his hands together and the crumbs that fell unnoticed from his fingers into the sea formed the Cape Verde islands. In fact, the islands began their slow formation some fifteen million years ago, as over countless millennia volcanoes erupted from the ocean bed creating a new archipelago.

Cape Verde lies at that magical point in the Atlantic where the north-east and south-west trade winds converge and sailors have found a safe haven on the islands since Portuguese navigators and other New World discoverers moored here in the fifteenth century. Many historians believe the islands were discovered by the Venetian, Alvise Cadamosto, who sighted them for the first time in 1456, just before he saw the constellation of the Southern Cross.

The islands became strategically important for the Portuguese and Spanish en route to and from the New World, while slave traders soon realised the potential of its location. By the seventeenth century, all the seafaring nations of Europe were plying the Atlantic seaways; trade and riches brought with them piracy and smuggling.

Legendary seafarer Sir Francis Drake made landfall on the isle of Santiago in 1578 and in 1832 the Beagle dropped anchor in Praia and naturalist Charles Darwin came ashore and was fascinated by the island’s unique flora and fauna.


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