The history of Cape Verde is full of pirate invasions. When the first Portuguese arrived in 1456, the islands of Cape Verde were uninhabited and completely covered with vegetation. Due to the presence of humans and the degradation of pastures, the environment deteriorated slowly over the years and the remoteness of the archipelago from the continent, as well as its proximity to South America, led the country to develop completely differently from the rest of Africa. In 1462, the Portuguese founded the city of Ribeira Grande on the island of Santiago (now Cidade Velha). Cape Verde became an easy starting point for ships that shifted slaves between America and Europe.
Sir Francis Drake, an English privateer, sacked the town in 1586. Until 1747 the islands remained under Portuguese rule and thrived until the first of several droughts brought them to their knees. Overexploitation of herds and fierce deforestation did nothing but make things worse by preventing low residual moisture from the soil to fertilize the fields.
The local economy, mainly based on the slave trade, suffered a sharp decline in the late nineteenth century, leading the country to shift to a different and more modern economic activity based on agriculture and fisheries.