The culture of Cape Verde is characterized by a mixture of African and European elements. This is not a sum of two cultures living side by side, but a new culture resulting from an exchange that began in the 15th century. Cape Verdean social and cultural patterns are unique. Football games and church activities are typical sources of social interaction and entertainment. The traditional walk around the praça (town square) to meet friends is practised regularly Cape Verde towns. Cape Verde's culture is heavily influenced by its unique music, such as the morna, a melancholy sound harking back to the days of slavery, batuko, a more jovial genre which gets everybody dancing and funana, an intriguing vocal tune which vibrates throughout the islands. Corn and beans are staples of Cape Verdean cuisine. Also popular are rice, fried potatoes, cassava and vegetables such as carrots, kale, squash, fish and meat such as tuna, sawfish, lobster, chicken, grilled pork and eggs.
A number of the holidays celebrated in Cabo Verde—including Easter, the Feast of the Assumption, All Saints' Day, and Christmas—reflect the country's majority Roman Catholic tradition. The Cape Verde archipelago was uninhabited until the 15th century, when Portuguese explorers discovered and colonized the islands, thus establishing the first European settlement in the tropics. Because the Cape Verde islands were located in a convenient location to play a role in the Atlantic slave trade, Cape Verde became economically prosperous during the 16th and 17th centuries, attracting merchants, privateers, and pirates. It declined economically in the 19th century due to the suppression of the Atlantic slave trade, and many of its inhabitants emigrated during that period. However, Cape Verde gradually recovered economically by becoming an important commercial center and useful stopover point along major shipping routes. In the 16th century, the archipelago prospered from the Atlantic slave trade. Pirates occasionally attacked the Portuguese settlements.
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Francis Drake, an English privateer, twice sacked the (then) capital Ribeira Grande in 1585 when it was a part of the Iberian Union. After a French attack in 1712, the town declined in importance relative to nearby Praia, which became the capital in 1770.