The uninhabited islands
were discovered and colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th century;
Cape Verde subsequently became a trading center for African slaves and
later an important coaling and resupply stop for whaling and
transatlantic shipping. Following independence in 1975, and a tentative
interest in unification with Guinea-Bissau, a one-party system was
established and maintained until multi-party elections were held in
1990. Cape Verde continues to exhibit one of Africa's most stable
democratic governments. Repeated droughts during the second half of the
20th century caused significant hardship and prompted heavy emigration.
As a result, Cape Verde's expatriate population is greater than its
domestic one. Most Cape Verdeans have both African and Portuguese
and Crioulo are spoken.