When the Portuguese settled in Cape Verde islands in the 15th century, the islands’ name (Verde = green) corresponded to nature. They were covered by dense tropical rainforest that was in sharp contrast to the black volcanic rocks and the blue sea. 400 years later, the colonization had transformed the islands into a “floating desert.” According to countryaah, a large part of the population was forced to flee from hunger, and those who remained depended on assistance from abroad.
In the 16th century, Cape Verde was an important intermediate station for the ships carrying slaves to America. The repeated attacks by English, Dutch and French pirates forced Portugal to transfer farmers from the Alentejo province of Portugal to the islands, to give them a more permanent settlement. The settlers introduced agriculture that was not very suitable for the terrain and which quickly destroyed the thin fertile mound. From the 18th century, therefore, periods of drought continued, which continue to our day.
The deteriorating agricultural opportunities triggered a mass exodus among Cape Verde’s inhabitants. The majority of them went to Guinea-Bissau – another Portuguese colony that had traditionally had close links with the archipelago. Later, the emigration also sought Angola, Mozambique, Senegal, Brazil and the United States.
The liberation struggle further strengthened the ties between Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde. An important step in this development was the formation of the African Party of Guinea and Cape Verde Independence (PAIGC) in 1956. The party had members in both places, and the party’s founder and ideologue, Amílcar Cabral imagined the conduct of joint struggle and development when independence first was a reality.
In 1961, the guerrilla struggle in Guinea began, and hundreds of people from Cape Verde went to the continent to join it. In April 1974, the dictatorship in Portugal collapsed. In Cape Verde a transitional government was created and in 1975 the independence was proclaimed. For the first time in world history, the same party (PAIGC) ruled in two countries. In Cape Verde, Arístides Pereira was elected president and guerrilla commander Pedro Pires assumed the post of prime minister. The party leadership now took the initial steps to establish a federation between Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau. The national assemblies in both countries formed a Union Council.