Topography and geographics
Cape Verde now officially known by its Portuguese name of Cabo Verde, consists of 10 volcanic islands (nine of which are inhabited) and also a number of small islets. The capital city is Praia, which is on the island of Santiago. The total area of land is approximately 4,033 sq km and the terrain ranges from sandy deserts to lush mountain ranges. The largest of the islands in terms of size and population is Santiago, with Praia being the largest city in the country.
Cape Verde is located 570km off the west coast of Africa, the nearest country being Senegal, and about 1850km north of the equator. Cape Verde is about 1,600km south of the Canary Islands, which is a 2-hour flight. The islands are divided into two groups – The Barlovento Islands to the north and west and The Sotovento islands to the south. The Barlovento islands comprise Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Luzia, São Nicolau, Sal and Boa Vista. The Sotovento islands comprise Santiago, Maio, Fogo and Brava.
Although volcanic islands, there has been very little volcanic action for many years. However, the Pico do Fogo did erupt at the end of 2014, which resulted in a temporary evacuation of the island. Pico do Fogo is the tallest mountain in the country at 2,828m, with Topo de Coroa on Santo Antão being the second highest at 1,979m.
There are salt pans or salinas on the islands of Sal and Maio, where salt is extracted from the sea by evaporation. On the islands of Santiago, Santo Antão and São Nicolau, you can find sugarcane and banana plantations on the bottom of the impressive mountain ranges. The islands have some of the best beaches in the world, with some having black sand, this being the result of past volcanic action.