The Quirimbas Islands lie in the Indian Ocean off northeastern Mozambique, close to Pemba, the capital of the province of Cabo Delgado. The archipelago consists of about 32 islands, including Matemo, Medjumbe, Quirimba, Metundo, Quisiva, Vamizi Island and Rolas Island. It was originally home to fishing settlements, and the islands' population grew around Arab trading posts and thrived under the Portuguese trading routes when it was known as the Ilhas de São Lázaro (Islands of St. Lazarus) during the 16th century. When the Portuguese started occupying cities in the islands such as Ibo, the Arab merchants fled to other parts of the island to operate in. The island was in control by the Portuguese until Mozambique gained independence in 1975. Before independence, only 4 of the 32 islands were inhabited. Today, many of the islands are inhabited.