Although many of the island residents are relatively recent arrivals who sought haven during the war years, the archipelago’s history reaches well back. The islands (previously known as the Hucicas or Vacicas) were long famed for their pearls and ambergris. By at least the 15th century, they were the site of a thriving maritime community sustained by the coastal dhow trade. The earliest Portuguese trading settlements dated from the mid-16th century, while the first permanent Portuguese settlement was established on Santa Carolina in the mid-19th century. Today, all of the islands except Bangué are inhabited.