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Cape Verde, officially the Republic of Cape Verde, is an island country, spanning an archipelago of 10 islands located in the central Atlantic Ocean, 570 kilometres (350 miles) off the coast of Western Africa. The islands, covering a combined area of slightly over 4,000 square kilometres (1,500 sq mi), are of volcanic origin and while three of them (Sal, Boa Vista and Maio) are fairly flat, sandy and dry, the remaining ones are generally rockier and have more vegetation.
The previously uninhabited islands were discovered and colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th century, and became important in the Atlantic slave trade for their location. The islands' prosperity often attracted privateers and pirates, including Sir Francis Drake, a corsair (privateer) under the authority of the English crown, who twice sacked the (then) capital Ribeira Grande, in the 1580s. The islands were also visited by Charles Darwin's expedition in 1832. The decline in the slave trade in the 19th century resulted in an economic crisis for the islands. With few natural resources, and without strong sustainable investment from the Portuguese, the citizens grew increasingly discontented with the colonial masters, who nevertheless refused to provide the local authorities with more autonomy. A budding independence movement culminated in 1975, when a movement originally led by Amílcar Cabral (who was assassinated on 20 January 1973) then passed onto his half-