Cape Verde

Consisting 10 volcanic, rocky islands and about seven islets, the country became independent of colonial master, Portugal, on 5 July 1975. Cape Verde is an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean 385 mi (500 km) west of Senegal. It lies between latitudes 14° and 18°N, and longitudes 22o and 26oW. The official currency spent on the islands is the Cape Verdean Escudo and its capital city is Praia. Portuguese is the official language of the Cape Verdean islands.

The overwhelming majority of Cape Verde population is of mixed European and African descent, often referred to as mestiço or crioulo. There is also a sizable African minority, which includes the Fulani (Fulbe), the Balante, and the Mandyako peoples. A small population of European origin includes those of Portuguese descent (especially from the Algarve, a historical province, and the Azores islands), as well as those of Italian, French, and English descent. A substantial number also trace its roots to Sephardic Jews who were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula in the 15th and 16th centuries during the Inquisition and were among the islands’ early settlers, or to other groups of Jews—mainly tradesmen—who arrived in the 19th century from Morocco.

Notable Places to Visit

Bars, Beaches & Waters of Sal

Each of the Cape Verdean islands holds a captivating and refreshing appeal of beaches. For the sunniest island Sal, the main appeal is the varying water activities and sports. With long, white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, Sal is considered to be among the world’s top five windsurfing locations. Kite-surfing, diving and deep sea fishing are all big activities on the island. In the north of the island, the town of Pedra de Lume precisely, you will find a salt lake in an extinct volcano crater that lies beneath sea level, an impressive sight. For many years, the island was a centre for salt mining, which is also where the name Sal (salt) comes from. It’s now possible to enjoy a curative salt bath in the saline at some of the salt seas of Sal for an admission fee. Live music plays a huge part in Cape Verdean culture, hence bars are lively, exciting and memorable places to go on most of the islands. The town of Santa Maria in Sal boasts a lively atmosphere with a good choice of bars and restaurants.

Dunes, Palms & Marine Life of Boa Vista

Closest to the African mainland, Boa Vista is not only renowned for its stunning beaches but its marine life too. The island is quite literally covered in sand and many buildings have been completely absorbed leaving an endless blanket of sand. Sahara like dunes in the interior of the island with sprouting date palms are an impressive sight and well worth a visit. Boa Vista (meaning beautiful view) is thought to be the third most important loggerhead nesting site in the world, with the favoured time of year for turtles to nest usually being during the months of June through to September. In addition to turtles on the beach you may catch a glimpse of whales in the islet of Sal Rei, a feeding ground for humpback whales and a magical sight if you are lucky enough to experience it. Whale sightings usually take place from June through to August.

Historical & Volcanic Spots of Santiago

Being the largest and first populated of the Cape Verdean archipelago, Santiago is rich in history and culture. The various mountainous peaks of the island reflect its volcanic origin. Praia is the capital of Santiago, a traditional bustling African town and the trading hub for agricultural products. No visit to Santiago would be complete without a trip to the old capital of Cidade Velha and Forte Real de Sao Filipe, the main slave trading point between Europe, Africa and America. In a valley near Assomada, in the island’s interior, you can admire the oldest and largest tree of Cape Verde, a kapok tree that is about 500 years old and 40 metres tall. Two monuments of nature – the Serra Malagueta and the Pico d’Antónia – are surrounded by achadas (plateaus) and flat-top mountains of lava rock. Cidade da Ribeira Grande de Santiago, the former capital of Santiago (previously called Cidade Velha) was placed on the World Cultural Heritage list by UNESCO in July 2009.

Cultural Sites of Sao Vicente

Mindelo is the Sao Vicente city where 80% of the island’s population resides. Because of the many sailors from around the world who were looking for amusement when they came through town, the city became the birthplace of the many, even internationally famous, music styles of Cape Verde such as morna or coladeira. As a result of globalisation, pop music has long become a part of the scene. Mindelo is proud of its rich tradition of music and art is full of architectural delights that reflect the early British influences and monuments that date back to colonial times and is well worth a visit.  Beaches on São Vicente are not always the most aesthetically pleasing in comparison with other islands but are a real treat for windsurfers (best conditions Nov-Apr). São Pedro is arguably one of the world's finest for speed windsurfing. In fact, in 1997 Sandy Beach at Calhau was included in the European professional circuit. Baia das Gatas in the north of the island which can be reached by four-wheel drive is great for swimming because of the natural lagoon. In terms of its landscape, São Vicente is dominated by the mighty Monte Verde peak (750 metres). Together with the two other mountain ranges (the Madeiral and Fateixa) it defines the appearance of the island.

Mountainous Range of Fogo

Fogo means fire. And this name reveals the true nature of the island in the Sotavento with its approximately 40,000 inhabitants: a volcano. Rising up to 2,829 metres, the volcanic mountain of Pico de Fogo dominates the island’s landscape as the highest elevation of Cape Verde. The best way to start the climb to Pico de Fogo is from the little town of Chã das Caldeiras. The path takes about six hours from here – after all, there is a 1000-metre difference in elevation to climb. Good footwear is absolutely necessary due to sections of the route that are steep and others that pass through fine scree (volcanic ash). The crater on Fogo is one of the highlights of Cape Verde and has created what is a very fertile land; coffee is grown on the outside slopes whilst the vines used to produce the famous Fogo wine are grown inside the crater. Both come highly recommended for tourists.

 

Notable Events:

  • Gamboa Music International Festival
  • Baia Das Gatas International Music Festival
  • Sal International Music Festival
  • Tabanka – A celebration of the liberation of slaves which takes place in Assomada, Santiago
  • Cape Verde Carnival
  • Kriol Jazz Festival
  • The Festival of Sao Joao
  • Cape Verde Independence Day
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