Cape Verde, with a population of 480,000, is located 500 km from the west coast of Africa. It comprises a group of islands of the Atlantic Ocean, west of Senegal. It is part of the region of Islands collectively known as Macaronesia. The once uninhabited islands were discovered and colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th century. They subsequently became a trading center for African slaves, and later an important coaling and re-supply stop for whaling and transatlantic shipping. Independence was achieved in 1975. Most Cape Verdeans have both African and Portuguese antecedents.