The Cape Verde Islands
The Cape Verde islands are in the middle of the Atlantic, approximately 600km due west of Senegal and a two-hour flight south of the Canary Islands. The country comprises 10 islands, 9 of which are inhabited, together with a number of small islets. Flight time from much of Europe is between six and seven hours. If you have not been, you should discover the Cape Verde islands; you will enjoy your visit.
The Cape Verde islands vary considerably in character, from sandy desert plains to lush green valleys and mountains. This small island state provides the visitor with superb beaches, comparable with the Caribbean or the Seychelles, but within a much shorter flight time from Europe.
There is a variety of terrain, a variety of beaches and the islands provide something for everyone. People that enjoy a lively holiday with plenty of bars and nightlife might well choose Sal. Visitors that want a quiet, relaxing holiday, enjoying gentle walks and deserted beaches might decide on Maio. For those looking for mountains and more challenging walks and rugged coastlines, then Santo Antão or São Nicolau might best. If it is culture that you want then you may decide on São Vicente.
The climate is lovely. There is little rain, which is normally confined to August and September but then it is normally brief, heavy showers. It rains very little compared to much of Europe. The winter months can be windy, but that is ideal for the many water sports on offer.
For visitors that are interested in nature, then there is a lot to experience in the Cape Verde islands. The loggerhead turtles are the most notable, and they make their nests and lay eggs in the sand dunes. There are also a variety of birds to spot. For divers and those interested in marine life, then the seas around the islands are teeming with it. Whales also breed in the waters around the islands and whale watching trips can be enjoyed. There is also a variety of plant life to enjoy. There are acacia forests and then also the beautiful flame trees, often found in towns and villages.
Portuguese is the official language in the Cape Verde islands, however many people also speak creole. The Cape Verdean people love music and with that goes a love of dance. Many bars have live music and before long people will be dancing so tourists should join in.
Much of Cape Verdean cuisine is based around fish. Fresh fish is available to buy in most seaside towns. A stew called cachupa is one of the traditional dishes and is made with corn, beans and fish or meat.
Cape Verde Islands – History
Sailors from Genoa and Portugal discovered the achipelago in about 1456. The first settlement was on the island of Santiago in 1462, when the Portuguese founded a town of Ribiera Grande, which is now the world heritage site of Cidade Velha. A less auspicious fact in the history of the Cape Verde islands is its connection with the slave trade. This brought prosperity to the islands. The country is self-governing. It was formerly a Portuguese colony and since 2013 has officially been known as Cabo Verde.
Cape Verde Islands – Economy
The population of Cape Verde is around 500,000 and more than half live on the island of Santiago. Praia is the capital of Cape Verde and is located at the southern end of the island of Santiago. Cape Verde is frequently cited as a stable African country, which has made good progress in terms of development. This is in spite of its main reliance on tourism because of its lack of natural resources. The country is also noted for being equitable. All people should feel welcomed here, because acceptance of women, LGBTQ people and people with mobility issues is widespread. Cape Verde is a relatively poor country.
Cape Verde Islands – Religion
The main religion in Cape Verde is Christianity, and with Roman Catholicism being the main denomination, with 77.3% of the population being catholic. In addition, there are protestant churches, but they are very much in the minority with only 3.7% of the population. Islam is represented in the country, but the percentage is very small at 1.8%.
For a snapshot of each of the inhabited islands see below…