Santiago is the largest of the Cape Verde islands, and nearly half the nation’s population lives on the island. Originally volcanic, Santiago is unusually fertile, and agriculture is an important part of the islands’ economy. The Cape Verde Islands only won their independence from Portugal in 1974, following a violent revolution. The nation is struggling valiantly to progress after a repressive history. Accordingly visitors will notice a striking difference in development between it and many of its neighbors. The Cape Verdeans, though, are friendly and optimistic, and welcoming to visitors. The old capital, formerly known as Cidade Velha, has been renamed Ribeira Grande de Santiago, which was its name when it was an important port in the infamous slave trade. Dating from 1466, it was the first European colonial settlement in the Tropics. Visitors will notice a cluster of well-restored colonial-period houses, as well as a monument to the original pelourinho, or pillory where slaves were both punished and sold. This area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.