General Information

Officially the Republic of Cabo Verde, is an island country spanning an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean. It forms part of the Macaronesia ecoregion, along with the Azores, Canary Islands, Madeira, and the Savage Isles. In ancient times these islands were referred to as "the Islands of the Blessed" or the "Fortunate Isles".

The largest island, both in size and population, is Santiago, which hosts the nation's capital, Praia, the principal urban agglomeration in the archipelago.Three of the Cape Verde islands, Sal, Boa Vista and Maio, are fairly flat, sandy, and dry; the others are generally rockier with more vegetation.

Cape Verde's climate is milder than that of the African mainland, because the surrounding sea moderates temperatures on the islands and cold Atlantic currents produce an arid atmosphere around the archipelago. On the higher islands and somewhat wetter islands, exclusively in mountainous areas, like Santo Antão island, the climate is suitable for the development of dry monsoon forest, and laurel forest as this vegetation.

Cape Verde's isolation has resulted in the islands having a number of endemic species, particularly birds and reptiles, many of which are endangered by human development. Endemic birds include Alexander's swift (Apus alexandri), Bourne's heron (Ardea purpurea bournei), the Raso lark (Alauda razae), the Cape Verde warbler (Acrocephalus brevipennis), and the Iago sparrow (Passer iagoensis). The islands are also an important breeding area for seabirds including the Cape Verde shearwater. Reptiles include the Cape Verde giant gecko (Tarentola gigas).

Mineral resources include salt, pozzolana (a volcanic rock used in cement production), and limestone. Its small number of wineries making Portuguese-style wines have traditionally focused on the domestic market, but have recently met with some international acclaim. A number of wine tours of Cape Verde's various microclimates began to be offered in spring 2010 and can be arranged through the tourism office.

Cape Verde's strategic location at the crossroads of mid-Atlantic air and sea lanes has been enhanced by significant improvements at Mindelo's harbour (Porto Grande) and at Sal's and Praia's international airports.

The Cape Verde archipelago was uninhabited when the Portuguese discovered it in 1456. The modern population of Cape Verde descends from the mixture of European settlers and African slaves who were brought to the islands to work on Portuguese plantations. Most Cape Verdeans are therefore mulattos, also called mestiços in Portuguese. Another term is creole, meaning those of mixed native-born African and native-born European descent.

Cape Verde's official language is Portuguese. It is the language of instruction and government. It is also used in newspapers, television, and radio. Cape Verdean Creole is used colloquially and is the mother tongue of virtually all Cape Verdeans. The national constitution calls for the measures to give it parity with Portuguese.

The culture of Cape Verde is characterized by a mixture of European and African elements. This is not a sum of two cultures living side by side, but a new culture resulting from an exchange.

Cape Verdean social and cultural patterns are similar to those of rural Portugal. Football games and church activities are typical sources of social interaction and entertainment. The traditional walk around the praça (town square) to meet friends is practiced regularly in Cape Verde towns.

Dance forms include the soft dance morna, the extreme sensuality of coladeira, the Cape Verdean version of the zouk from Guadeloupe called Cabo love, the Funaná (a sensual mixed Portuguese and African dance), the Batuque dance, and the Kizomba.

The Cape Verde diet is mostly based on fish and staple foods like corn and rice. Vegetables available during most of the year are potatoes, onions, tomatoes, manioc, cabbage, kale, and dried beans. Fruits such as bananas and papayas are available year-round, while others like mangoes and avocados are seasonal. A popular dish served in Cape Verde is Cachupa, a slow cooked stew of corn (hominy), beans, and fish or meat. A common appetizer is the pastel which is a pastry shell filled with fish or meat that is then fried.