The islands of Capoverde remained unexplored until the middle of the fifteenth century and, even today, there are conflicting opinions on who was the first discoverer of the islands.
In 1456, Alvise Cadamosto of Venetian origin, discovered some islands of Cape Verde. In the same year, the Genoese Antonio Bartolomeo da Noli, Vicente Dias and Diogo Gomes, Neapolitan and Portuguese navigators in the service of Portugal, landed on the islands describing them officially as uninhabited lands. Assessing the prevailing winds and ocean currents in the region, it can be assumed that the islands may also have been visited by wolof, sérèr or even lebu fishermen, resident tribes of the Guinean coast. Tradition also suggests the visit of the Arabs or the Phoenicians centuries before the arrival of the Europeans.
The Portuguese explorer Jaime Cortesão told the story of the visit of the Arabs to an island called "Aulil" or "Ulil" (perhaps Sal), where salt was extracted from natural salt pans.
In 1462, Ribeira Grande, now Cidade Velha, was founded on the island of São Tiago.
Cape Verde was also a perfect base for the stopover of ships traveling between Europe and America, thus becoming a very important center for the African slave trade. In the course of his third transoceanic voyage of 1498, Christopher Columbus landed on the islands, more precisely in Boa Vista, writing in his newspaper: "They have a deceptive name because they are very dry and I saw nothing green in them". There he found only wild goats, large tortoises and lepers.
The colonization began in 1492 by a small group of Genoese, Portuguese and Spaniards who settled on the island of Santiago where, thanks to the slave trade coming from West Africa, agricultural activities began based on various types of crops that however, they did not give the expected results, given the aridity of the land. Thus two other activities were dedicated: the supply of ships and the slave trade. Capoverde is in fact located in the center of the Atlantic and all the ships bound for America and Brazil stopped off on the islands to supply food and water as well as to repair and replenish the ships and, throughout the 1500s, this was the main resource for the islands next to the slave trade. The slave traders found a safe market on these islands, without having to go as far as the African coasts.
The trade in other goods from Africa such as ivory, rubber, amber and honey also grew, but the resource that allowed a strong exchange currency came from the production of cotton, cultivated and then woven into fabrics by slaves. Thanks to the dye of oricello, a lichen that grew in the mountainous areas and from which a special blue dye was obtained, the fabrics were then colored. The declaration of 1870, which ended slavery, did not mean, however, better living conditions for the population, the former slaves had to endure many other years of forced labor, up to the following century. Portugal ruled on the basis of skin color and identified as many as 17 categories of people, from "dark black" to "almost white", thus also leading to a form of internal racism within the Cape Verdean people in which the clearest despised those with the most complexion dark.
In the early 1900s Sao Vincente became the main economic center, taking the place of Santiago, with the consequence of a great migration from the other islands of people looking for work. Unfortunately, the decrease in maritime traffic and the great drought led to terrible consequences: in 1921 as many as 17,000 people died.
In 1747 the archipelago was struck by the first and historically recorded recurrent drought and hunger, in the presence of which the Portuguese government remained impassive, not sending any help. The decline of the slave trade also signaled another setback for the economy, leading to massive emigration of Cape Verde inhabitants to US New England in the 19th century. The first Verdian chieftains arrived in the United States were men recruited by whalers on the island of Brava.
In the 30s, 40s and 50s the first nationalistic movement was formed, which used a newspaper, the Claridade, as a political medium.
In 1975 Cape Verde gained independence from Portugal, with President Aristides Maria Pereira, Prime Minister Pedro Verona Rodrigues Pires and president of the national popular assembly Abílio Duarte. On 16 September 1975 he was admitted as a member of the UN. The African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) took power in both Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde. In both countries there was talk of the desirability of a unification until 1980, when, in Guinea-Bissau, there was a coup d'état. The Cape Verdeans abandoned the PAIGC and with the separation from Guinea-Bissau, at the beginning.