Cape Verde Travel Information

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Facts About Cape Verde

Background: The uninhabited islands were discovered and colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th century; they subsequently became a trading center for African slaves. Most Cape Verdeans descend from both groups. Independence was achieved in 1975.
Government type: republic
Capital: Praia
Currency: 1 Cape Verdean escudo (CVEsc) = 100 centavos

Geography of Cape Verde

Location: Western Africa, group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Senegal
Geographic coordinates: 16 00 N, 24 00 W
total: 4,033 sq km
land: 4,033 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 965 km
Maritime claims: measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
Climate: temperate; warm, dry summer; precipitation meager and very erratic
Terrain: steep, rugged, rocky, volcanic
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mt. Fogo 2,829 m (a volcano on Fogo Island)
Natural resources: salt, basalt rock, pozzuolana (a siliceous volcanic ash used to produce hydraulic cement), limestone, kaolin, fish
Land use:
arable land: 11%
permanent crops: 0%
permanent pastures: 6%
forests and woodland: 0%
other: 83% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 30 sq km (1993 est.)
Natural hazards: prolonged droughts; harmattan wind can obscure visibility; volcanically and seismically active
Environment - current issues: overgrazing of livestock and improper land use such as the cultivation of crops on steep slopes has led to soil erosion; demand for wood used as fuel has resulted in deforestation; desertification; environmental damage has threatened several species of birds and reptiles; overfishing.
Environment - international agreements:
party to:  Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: strategic location 500 km from west coast of Africa near major north-south sea routes; important communications station; important sea and air refueling site.

People of Cape Verde

The Cape Verde archipelago was uninhabited until the Portuguese discovered the islands in 1456. African slaves were brought to the islands to work on Portuguese plantations. As a result, Cape Verdeans are of mixed African and European origin. The influence of African culture is most pronounced on the island of Santiago, where half the population resides. Sparse rain and few natural resources historically have induced Cape Verdeans to emigrate. It is believed that of the more than 1 million individuals of Cape Verdean ancestry, less than half actually live on the islands. Some 500,000 people of Cape Verdean ancestry live in the United States, mainly in New England. Portugal, Netherlands, Italy, France, and Senegal also have large communities.

The official language is Portuguese, but most Cape Verdeans also speak a Creole dialect--Crioulo--which is based on archaic Portuguese but influenced by African and European languages. Cape Verde has a rich tradition of Crioulo literature and music.

Population: 418,224 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  42.79%
15-64 years:  50.76%
65 years and over:  6.45%
Population growth rate: 0.92% 
Birth rate: 28.71 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 7.19 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: -12.37 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 53.22 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  69.21 years
male:  65.93 years
female:  72.6 years 
Total fertility rate: 4.05 children born/woman 
noun: Cape Verdean(s)
adjective: Cape Verdean
Ethnic groups: Creole (mulatto) 71%, African 28%, European 1%
Religions: Roman Catholic (infused with indigenous beliefs); Protestant (mostly Church of the Nazarene)
Languages: Portuguese, Crioulo (a blend of Portuguese and West African words)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 71.6%
male: 81.4%
female: 63.8% (1995 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > Cape Verde Map Economy History