History of Cape Verde

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The first written record of Cape Verde can be found in the works "De choreographia" by Pomponius Mela ( died 45 CE/AD ) and "Historia naturalis" by Pliny the Elder ( died 79 CE/AD ). They called the islands "Gorgades" in remembering the home of the mythical Gorgons killed by Perseus and afterwards - in typically ancient euhemerism - interpreted (against the written original statement) as the site where the Carthaginian Hanno the Navigator slew two female "Gorillai" and brought their skins into the temple of the female deity Tanit (the Carthaginian Juno) in Carthage.

According to Pliny the Elder, the Greek Xenophon of Lampsacus states that the Gorgades (Cape Verde) are situated two days from "Hesperu Ceras" - today called Cap-Vert, the westernmost part of the African continent. According to Pliny the Elder and his citation by Gaius Julius Solinus, the sea voyage time from Atlantis crossing the Gorgades to the islands of the Ladies of the West (Hesperides) is around 40 days.

The Isles of the Blessed written of by Marinos of Tyre and referenced by Ptolemy in his Geographia may have been the Cape Verde islands.[1]

Pre-European visitors

The Portuguese explorers rediscovered the islands in 1456 and described the islands as "uninhabited". However, given the prevailing winds and ocean currents in the region, the islands may well have been visited by Moors or Wolof, Serer, or perhaps Lebu fishermen from the Guinea (region) coast. Folklore suggests that the islands may have been visited by Arabs, centuries before the arrival of the Europeans. The Portuguese writer and historian Jaime Cortesão (1884—1960) reported a story that Arabs were known to have visited an island which they referred to as "Aulil" or "Ulil" where they took salt from naturally occurring salinas. Some believe they may have been referring to Sal Island.

Whatever the case may have been, there are no records of any native populations at the time of the Portuguese colonisation, and so it is extremely unlikely there would be some, as there was no conceivable reason for the Portuguese colonists not to mention them.

European discovery and settlement

In 1456, Alvise Cadamosto discovered some of the islands. In the next decade, Diogo Gomes and António Noli, captains in the service of prince Henry the Navigator, discovered the remaining islands of the archipelago. When these mariners first landed in Cape Verde, the islands were barren of people but not of vegetation. Seeing the islands today, you find it hard to imagine[original research?] that they were once sufficiently verde (green) to entice the Portuguese to return six years later to the island of São Tiago to found Ribeira Grande (now Cidade Velha), in 1462—the first permanent European settlement city in the tropics.[2]

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