Cape Verde Islands

Faraway Cape Verde Islands or vacation in Cape Verde

The Republic of Cape Verde is located on the islands of the same name in the Atlantic Ocean, 620 km. off the west coast of Africa, and consists of 10 large and 5 small islands. The country’s territory is elevated and fairly dry, up to 16% of the country is covered by dry rubbly highlands – the so-called “lunar landscape”. The highest point of the country is Fogu (2840 m). The total area is 4 thousand sq.km.

The capital of Cape Verde is Praia.

Population: 400,000, mainly mulattoes – 71%, Africans (Fulbe, Balante, Manja) – 28%, and European migrants.

Political status: Republican form of government. The head of state is the president. The head of government is prime minister. Legislative power is vested in the unicameral National People’s Assembly.

The language in Cape Verde is Portuguese, with Spanish, French, and a Creole dialect in communication with foreigners.

Religion in Cape Verde: Catholics (some reports say up to 80%) and adherents of local beliefs.

It must be said that Cape Verde is a classic desert. Of the ten islands, only one can be called green (or rather, half of one). On the north side of Santo Antão it rains at any time of the year. So there are streams, pine forests, sugar cane plantations – in general, landscapes that don’t impress with their moody grandeur. The southern half of Santo Antão is the same as the rest of the Cape Verde Islands.

The islands themselves are separated from each other by 100-150 kilometers of undulating ocean surface. Due to the geography of Cape Verde, foreign visitors usually arrive in the country by airplane and travel through its national territory in exactly the same way. The small (but modern) planes of the national airline TACV take them from island to island in an hour.

There are, however, two large ocean ferries, the Sotaventu (“Leeward”) and the Barlaventu (“Windward”). They circumnavigate the archipelago: the first in a clockwise direction and the second in a counterclockwise direction. But those are long hours and even days of sailing. It’s not something the average vacationer can enjoy on Cape Verde.

The archipelago owes its birth to volcanoes that poked their heads out of the ocean millions of years ago. One of the volcanoes is still smoking on Fogu Island (that’s why the island is called “fogu” – “fire”).

The others are extinguished. But they have defined the appearance of Cape Verde once and for all. Wherever on the archipelago you stand with your back to the sea, it will be more or less the same in front of your eyes. A sandy or stony plain (where there is one), and behind it (in some places right in front of your nose), the mountains of lava rising steeply into the overhead layers of the atmosphere. The flag of the Republic of Cape Verde is white-blue-red, almost like in Russia. In fact, the typical colors of the country are red, brown and black.

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These colors change only once a year. At the end of August, the seasonal rains come. There is a lot (even more than usual) of wind, thunder, lightning, and similar dramatic effects. The desert responds to them with all its life-affirming power. Grass suddenly emerges from the bare rock. It feeds on the energy of the hurricanes until October, and then it dries completely, to emerge again from nothing the following year.

If the sight of a scorched desert does not make a good impression on you, you must urgently turn around 180 degrees. The sea is there, the colors play all year round. But the walk to the volcanic mountains is also worth it. The most poignant effect is a car trip. You’ll get it without any effort, no matter where or what business you have to go in Cape Verde .

On the way from the south to the northern part of Santo Antão, there is a place called Delgadinho (“the lean-to”). Oncoming cars give way to each other there. Because the highway is just the width of a heavy truck, there are no ditches. Instead of them both on the right and on the left are almost perfectly flat bluffs. One kilometer high. In not very clear weather the view from this stone spine is spoiled by clouds. They hang out somewhere in the middle between the soles of your feet and the bottom of the valley.

The roads in Cape Verde are not paved with asphalt, as in our country, but cut through the lava and paved with paving stones made of the same lava. Where necessary, they pave terraces of lava blocks. At the same time the side railings are somehow not considered very necessary. At the turns an unprepared passenger goes in his or her heels. But the local, and not only local, drivers maneuver there with total coolness.

Cape Verde – it is primarily natural attractions: a stunning contrast of sky-blue ocean and yellow, sun-dried rocks, creating a kind of charm of this country. The main “treasures” of the islands are underwater – the ocean in the archipelago is full of life, so for water sports and scuba divers this is one of the best places in the world.

The underwater foothills of the islands go down very steeply and abound both coral reefs with a myriad of sea creatures, and underwater caves with a maze of tunnels and caverns.

During the migrating period near the shores of the archipelago there often appear herds of whales, letting them close to each other, and shoals of oceanic fish, serving as an object of sport fishing. Suffice it to say that in 2000, six world records for the size and weight of fish caught off the coast of these islands were registered.

The capital of the country – Praia, located on the mountain plateau, which is called – Plateau, is not rich with any architectural refinements and sights, but it has two beautiful beaches to the west of the center – Praia Mar and Cuebra Canela.

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About 10 km west of the capital is Ciudad Velha (Old City), the first European settlement in the archipelago and famous for its picturesque Portuguese fort, the Real da Santo Felipe, overhanging the waters of the ocean. And to the north of the capital lies Tarrafal, a favorite vacation spot of citizens and visitors, known for its beautiful beaches.

The deserted island of Sal, where the international airport is located, is almost entirely at the disposal of tourists. Waiting for a flight to the capital or islands, there are boat excursions to the different islands of the archipelago, good local and Portuguese restaurants, or a stroll along the small but lovely island beaches.

Mindelo on Santo Vincente Island is the country’s largest city and the archipelago’s only deep-water port. Unlike the capital, it is full of bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. Built mostly with colonial buildings with carved balconies and shady courtyards, it is the tourist capital of the islands.

Santo Antão, which lies north of Santo Vincente, is the greenest and most picturesque of the archipelago. It is the most popular among hikers and is the place to go on a mini-safari by jeep or bicycle through the green hills of the island and admire its bizarre landscape, before relaxing on the beaches of the eastern coast.

The archipelago is of volcanic origin, but only the volcano Fogu (2829 m) on the island of the same name is active (since the mid-16th century, there have been 29 eruptions, the last in 1995). The islands of Santiago, San Vicente and San Nicola also have a mountainous relief. The islands of the eastern group – Mayu, Boavista and Sal – are characterized by low altitudes. Generally, natural vegetation is better preserved in the valleys in the interior of the islands.

Cabo Verde History and Present

Six hundred kilometers off the west coast of the African continent is this small country, Cape Verde. From the Portuguese, the name translates as “Cape Verde Islands”. So it was named by the Italian traveler Aloysius Cadamosto, who visited these lands in 1456.

Kite Beach, Sal Island, Cabo Verde

Kite Beach, Sal Island, Cape Verde. Photo by ClaDae.

Cape Verde in numbers.

Before we get acquainted with this exotic for us country, here are some dry statistics concerning this state:

  • The Republic of Cape Verde is located on 18 islands: 8 are small and 10 are large;
  • occupies an area of 4,033 square kilometers;
  • The population as of 09.07.2019 is 545,688 people;
  • the capital of the state is the city of Praia, located on the island of Santiago;
  • official language – Portuguese;
  • The national currency is the Cape Verdean escudo.

The main part of the country’s population (about 90%) are Catholics.

Ribeira Brava, San Nicolaou Island, Cape Verde

Ribeira Brava, Sao Nicolao Island, Cape Verde. The author of the photo is Niko Luiggen.

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Cape Verde – stages of history

To say that no one knew about the islands before they were discovered would be wrong. The Cape Verde Islands were on the route of the ships that rounded the west coast of Africa. The ancient scholars Pliny the Elder, Claudius Ptolemy, and Marinus of Tyre mentioned these territories in their works.

However, the fundamental development of Cape Verde began only after the colonization of these lands by Portugal.

Let us list the main milestones of the beginning of the historical development of the country:

  • 1462 – settlement of the islands by settlers from Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy.
  • 1471-1475 – the beginning of a brisk trade in slaves from the African mainland.
  • 1495 – year when Portugal officially colonized the islands.
  • 1533 – formation of the first city of the archipelago, Ribeiro Grande.
  • 1581-1640 – possession of Cape Verde passed to Spain, after which Portugal regained the lost lands.

During these times the islands were experiencing a period of boom. The slave trade flourished here. Slaves were transported to the cane plantations of Brazil, for coffee picking, and other hard labor in various countries.

Ships bringing coffee, sugar, indigo, cane and cocoa from both coasts of the Americas stopped here to rest. All this contributed to the prosperity of the settlements and, at the same time, attracted the eyes of pirates. The famous corsairs of the time, the Englishman Francis Drake and the Frenchman Jacques Cassar, participated in the raids on the archipelago. The latter went down in history because he destroyed to the ground the first capital of the country Ribeiro Grande, so it had to be moved to the city of Santa Maria (the future Praia).

With the prohibition of the slave trade (1878) the importance of the Cape Verde Islands declined. Gradually the people were freed from colonial dependence and became free in 1975.

Windsurfing, San Pedro, San Vicente Island, Cabo Verde.

Windsurfing, San Pedro, San Vicente Island, Cabo Verde. Photo by Marian Diaz.

Islands where Chunga Chunga lives

If we talk about the geographical location and climate of the archipelago, it is extremely favorable for living. Remembering the song of the famous Soviet cartoon, “Chunga Chunga”, we can say: yes, this is where its characters lived. Bananas, mangos, pineapples and other goodies are plentiful here. Comfortable stay on the islands at any time of year contributes to the geographical location and climate.

It is always warm and the climate is mild. In the coldest month, February, the thermometer does not fall below +21 ° C. It does not scare the visitors and the infamous rainy season. In the fall they occur, but not as much as elsewhere.

All the islands are divided into two groups. San Vicente, Santo Antão, Santa Lucia, San Nicolau, Boavista and Sal take on the ocean winds, belong to the Navetrain. The islands of Brava, Santiago, Mayu and Fogo are part of the Leeward, sheltered islands. The rest are small in area, and are of little interest.

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Cape Verde has a large number of volcanoes, already extinct or active. The highest is located on the Fogu, its height is 2,829 meters.

Vineyards, Volcano, Fogo Island, Cabo Verde

Vineyards and a volcano, Fogo Island, Cape Verde. Photo by tivitto.

Everywhere in the archipelago is dominated by hilly terrain, the islands are fringed mostly by rocky shores. Although the former name of the country, Cape Verde Islands, talked about the abundance of vegetation – it’s not much, mostly bushes and grass. The rest is rocky soil.

An interesting fact is that all the islands differ from each other: in area, vegetation, landscape.

Aboriginal occupations.

The lack of worries about buying warm clothes and clothes made the population of the country kind and friendly. The locals are cordial and sing a lot. Their songs can be heard almost all night in the many small bars, where the population relaxes after work. By the way, locally produced beer, which is consumed by Kaboverden residents performing karaoke, is in great esteem here.

The main profit the state gets from tourism. Exotic, untouched by civilization land, attracts foreign visitors. There are few luxury hotels and supermarkets, there is a serene atmosphere, the background of which is the waves of the warm Atlantic Ocean.

The population, mostly mulattoes, descendants of European settlers and Africans, earn their escudos in agricultural work. Ten percent of the land is occupied by various plantations. The export of tropical fruits, coffee, brings considerable income to the country. In spite of the rich opportunities, fishing is not a priority. Seafood is harvested mainly for personal sustenance. Interestingly, about half of the exports are the products of local shoemakers. The natives supply quality products to local markets.

Pirate times have fallen into oblivion, yet taking care of your safety on the islands is a sacred thing. There are about 1,000 men in the armed forces and about the same number in the police force.

Cape Verde Land of Mountains and Hills

Cape Verde. Photo by Michael.

What is a tourist to do in Cape Verde?

You can get to this country by air or by water. There are two international airports on the islands of Santiago and Sal, and there are about 10 local ones flying between the islands. Ocean liners and ferries dock at Praia, Mindelu and Tarrafal. There is no rail transport on the archipelago.

Sal Island, Cabo Verde Ideal place to stop on your way to South America

Sal Island, Cabo Verde A perfect place to stop on your way to South America. The author of the photo is Johan Van Moorham.

A classic tourist accustomed to luxurious comforts, shopping, and high-speed internet will feel out of place here. Cape Verde is a natural environment, natural beaches, rocky shores. You can walk or ride a rental bicycle. Zelenomyssk residents have not yet acquired public transportation. The most advanced way to get around the major islands are private cabs and shuttles. Internet is expensive, and its quality is far from continental.

The most popular forms of entertainment are diving, relaxing on small beaches, and walking along mountain trails. Cape Verde attracts fans of scuba diving, as there are ideal conditions: underwater grottos, coral reefs, exotic ocean inhabitants. The best places for such recreation are the islands of Boavista, Santiago, Sal, Santa Lucia.

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Fans of extreme sports can try a rare kind: volcanic snowboarding – descent down the slopes of the volcano to the sands, lying on the coast. By the way, this sand is black – it contains particles of solidified lava. You can also go down from the mountains on a hang-glider.

In honor of tourists fishing. What fisherman will refuse to catch fish unseen in our latitudes in the ocean? The main thing in this fascinating case – do not miss the day of departure home.

The local food is of good quality. It is dominated by dishes of Atlantic inhabitants, of which the natives most revere tuna. Portuguese cuisine, a legacy of the colonial past, is still popular.

Interesting details of life in Cape Verde Let us tell you about some interesting facts, the knowledge of which will be useful to domestic tourists when visiting this island state:

  • The cost of a fare on the local shuttle bus – 1-2 euros;
  • Travel by ferry between the nearby islands – 35 euros;
  • rent a car (the larger islands have such a service) – 80 euros a day;
  • The quality of local roads, it especially amazes our tourists, a decent level. Compatriots claim that the roads in Ryazan or Tambov are inferior to the local ones;
  • the price for lunch in a café or restaurant: 8-15 euros, depending on the class of the public catering point.

Let us also note the main attractions of this island country:

  1. There is a statue of Jesus Christ in the waters near the island of Sal. According to local belief, this contributes to a good catch of fishermen.
  2. As you travel around the islands in the ocean, you can see packs of whales changing their location.
  3. A great deficit in Cape Verde is the sand. This building material is essential for the builders who use it to build buildings on the islands. Sand is mined by women who get it from the bottom of the ocean and fill huge wicker baskets with it. With this heavy burden on their heads, the women go ashore, dry it, and then sell it to construction sites. The government has forbidden such extraction, but in order to feed their large families, they continue to break the law.

The most revered person in Cape Verde is Cesaria Évora, a famous singer who died in 2011 and was born in Mindelo. She became famous in the world for her beautiful voice and distinctive manner of performance. Evora went on stage barefoot, for this reason she was nicknamed “barefoot diva”.

Cesaria loved her country so much that all the money she earned, gave to its development. Funding for primary education in Cape Verde came from the singer.

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