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Cape Verde Travel Guide - Travel S Helper

Cape Verde

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Cape Verde, formally the Republic of Cabo Verde, is an archipelago of ten volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean. The islands are located 570 kilometers (350 miles) off the coast of West Africa and occupy a total area of somewhat more than 4,000 square kilometers (1,500 sq mi).

The archipelago of Cape Verde remained uninhabited until the 15th century, when Portuguese explorers found and colonized the islands, establishing the first European colony in the tropics. The islands were affluent throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, drawing merchants, privateers, and pirates due to their strategic location for the Atlantic slave trade. The abolition of slavery in the nineteenth century resulted in economic collapse and emigration, however Cape Verde gradually rebounded as an important commercial hub and maritime stopover. The islands were incorporated as an overseas department of Portugal in 1951 and continued to fight for independence until it was peacefully won in 1975.

Cape Verde has been a stable representative democracy since the early 1990s, and it remains one of Africa’s most developed and democratic countries. Due to a lack of natural resources, its emerging economy is mostly service-oriented, with an increasing emphasis on tourism and international investment. Its 512,000-strong population is primarily of mixed European and Sub-Saharan African ancestry (mulato), and it is predominantly Roman Catholic, reflecting the history of Portuguese control. A sizable diaspora community exists across the world, somewhat outnumbering island residents.

Historically, the term “Cape Verde” has been used in English for both the archipelago and the country since its independence in 1975. The Cape Verdean administration decided in 2013 that the Portuguese appellation “Cabo Verde” will be used for official reasons, such as at the United Nations, even in English situations. Cape Verde is an African Union member.

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Cape Verde - Info Card




Cape Verdean escudo (CVE)

Time zone



2,381,741 km2 (919,595 sq mi)

Calling code


Official language


Cape Verde - Introduction


The climate of Cape Verde is moderate, with a warm, dry summer. Precipitation is sparse and falls from June to February, peaking in September.

Sal, Boavista, and Maio are three of the islands that get virtually little rain. The rainiest islands are Santiago, Fogo, and Santo Antao.


The Cape Verde archipelago is situated in the Atlantic Ocean, some 570 kilometers (350 miles) off the African continent’s western coast, near Senegal, The Gambia, and Mauritania, and is part of the Macaronesia ecoregion. It is located between latitudes 14° and 18° North and longitudes 22° and 26° West.

The nation is a horseshoe-shaped collection of ten islands (nine of which are inhabited) and eight islets covering 4033 km2.

The islands are split into two categories based on their location:

  • The Barlavento Islands (windward islands): Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Luzia, São Nicolau, Sal, Boa Vista; and
  • The Sotavento Islands (leeward): Maio, Santiago, Fogo, Brava.

Santiago is the biggest island in terms of both area and population, and it is home to the nation’s capital, Praia, the archipelago’s main agglomeration.

Three of them (Sal, Boa Vista, and Maio) are relatively flat, sandy, and dry, whereas the others are usually rockier and have more flora.


In 2013, Cape Verde had a population of 512,096 according to the official census. The largest island, Santiago, is home to the majority of Cape Verdeans (236,000).

Ethnic groups

When the Portuguese found the Cape Verde archipelago in 1456, it was deserted. Slaves from Africa were sent to the islands to labor on Portuguese plantations. Mulattos (mestiços in Portuguese) are people of mixed African and European ancestry; creole is another name for people of mixed black and white ancestry. Many of these Cape Verdeans have moved to other countries, namely the United States and Europe.

The Portuguese Empire gave territory to Spanish and Italian sailors, who were followed by Portuguese immigrants, exiles, Portuguese Muslims, and Portuguese Jews, both of which were victims of the Inquisition. Many immigrants from all over the globe have made Cape Verde their permanent home. These individuals arrived from the Netherlands, France, Britain, Arab nations (Lebanon and Morocco), China (particularly Macau), India, Indonesia, South America, North America, and Brazil (including people of Portuguese and African ancestry) and were incorporated into the mestiço community.

The majority of Cape Verde’s population in the twenty-first century is creole; the capital city Praia accounting for one-quarter of the country’s population. According to the 2013 Cape Verdean census, over 65 percent of the archipelago’s population resides in urban areas, and the literacy rate is approximately 87 percent (91 percent among males aged 15 and above and 83 percent among women aged 15 and above).

According to a DNA research, the heritage of the Cape Verdean people is mainly European in the male line and West African in the female line; when both lines are included, the proportion is 56 percent African and 44 percent European. Individuals have a high degree of genetic and ethnic mixing as a consequence of centuries of migration.


Approximately 95 percent of the population is Christian. In 2007, more than 85% of the population was officially Roman Catholic. Catholicism is mixed with African influences for a small percentage of the people.

The Church of the Nazarene is the biggest Protestant denomination; other organizations include the Seventh-day Adventist Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Assemblies of God, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, and various Pentecostal and evangelical denominations. There is a tiny Muslim community in the area. On many islands, there were Jewish communities. The population of atheists is believed to be fewer than 1% of the total.


Despite a dearth of natural resources, Cape Verde’s significant economic growth and improvement in living circumstances has gained worldwide attention, with other nations and international organizations often giving development assistance. Since 2007, it has been categorized as a developing nation rather than a least developed country by the United Nations.

Natural resources are scarce in Cape Verde. Only five of the ten major islands (Santiago, Santo Anto, So Nicolau, Fogo, and Brava) are usually capable of supporting substantial agricultural output, and more than 90 percent of the food eaten in Cape Verde is imported. Salt, pozzolana (a volcanic rock used in cement manufacturing), and limestone are examples of mineral resources. Its limited number of wineries producing Portuguese-style wines have historically concentrated on the local market, but have lately gained worldwide recognition. Wine tours of Cape Verde’s different microclimates started in April 2010 and may be booked via the tourist office.

Cape Verde’s economy is service-oriented, with trade, transportation, and public services accounting for more than 70% of GDP. Despite the fact that almost 35% of the population lives in rural regions, agriculture and fisheries account for just around 9% of GDP. The majority of the rest is accounted for by light manufacturing. Fish and shellfish are abundant, yet only a tiny amount is exported. In Mindelo, Praia, and Sal, Cape Verde contains cold storage and freezing facilities, as well as seafood processing factories. Through remittances, expatriate Cape Verdeans contribute an estimated 20% of GDP to the local economy. Despite having few natural resources and being semi-desert, the country has the best living standards in the area, attracting thousands of immigrants of all countries.

Since 1991, the government has promoted market-oriented economic policies, including as an open invitation to international investors and a comprehensive privatization initiative. It set the promotion of a market economy and the private sector as key development objectives, as well as the growth of tourism, light industrial sectors, and fisheries, as well as the construction of transportation, communications, and energy infrastructure. From 1994 to 2000, about $407 million in foreign investments were made or planned, with tourism accounting for 58%, industry accounting for 17%, infrastructure accounting for 4%, and fisheries and services accounting for 21%.

A wind farm was constructed on four islands in 2011, supplying about 30% of the country’s energy. It is one of the leading nations in terms of renewable energy.

Between 2000 and 2009, real GDP grew by more than 7% per year on average, considerably above the Sub-Saharan average and faster than other small island economies in the area. Strong economic performance has been supported by one of the world’s fastest growing tourist sectors, as well as significant capital inflows that have enabled Cape Verde to build up national currency reserves equivalent to 3.5 months of imports. Unemployment has been quickly declining, and the nation is on pace to meet the majority of the UN Millennium Development Goals, including reducing its poverty level from 1990.

Cape Verde joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2007, and the nation was promoted from Least Developed Country (LDC) to Middle Income Country (MIC) status in 2008.

Cape Verde has substantial economic cooperation with Portugal at all levels, which has led to the country’s currency being linked to the Portuguese escudo initially, and then, in 1999, to the euro. Cape Verde became the 153rd member of the World Trade Organization on June 23, 2008.

For the first time in Cape Verdean history, the minimum wage was established at 11,000.00 Cape Verde escudos (CVE) per month (equal to US$110 or 101 Euros) in August 2013. On January 1, 2014, the national minimum wage went into effect.

Things To Know Before Traveling To Cape Verde

Visa, Passport

Citizens of Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Hong Kong, Liberia, Macau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, and Togo do not need a visa to go to Cape Verde. Everyone else may get a visa on arrival for 25 euros.

Internet, Comunication

The phone system is functional and developing. Mobile phone coverage is available in all cities and villages. Check with your service provider for roaming fees.

There is also one Internet service provider in the nation.


People are courteous and friendly: they will attempt to sell you something, and if you reject, they will tell you tales about their families’ hardships. It is essential to purchase anything, but it is much more crucial to negotiate.

Stay safe

The crime rate is quite low. The number to dial in an emergency is 132.

Stay healthy

The tap water in resorts is generally desalinated and safe to drink. Bottled water is inexpensive and widely accessible in other places.

Tourism In Cape Verde

The strategic position of Cape Verde at the crossroads of mid-Atlantic air and sea routes has been improved by major upgrades at Mindelo’s harbour (Porto Grande) and the international airports of Sal and Praia. In December 2007, a new international airport opened in Boa Vista, and in late 2009, the newest international airport in Cape Verde (Cesária Évora Airport) opened on the island of So Vicente. Mindelo’s ship repair facility opened in 1983.

Mindelo and Praia are the main ports, although all other islands have minor port facilities. Airports have been constructed on all of the populated islands, in addition to the international airport on Sal. Except for the airports on Brava and Santo Anto, all provide regular air service. The archipelago contains 3,050 kilometres (1,895 mi) of roads, 1,010 km (628 km) of which are paved, the majority of which are cobblestone.

The country’s economic prospects are largely dependent on the continuation of assistance flows, the promotion of tourism and remittances, the outsourcing of labor to neighboring African nations, and the pace of the government’s development agenda.

How To Travel To Cape Verde

Get In – By plane

The islands of Sal, Santiago, Boa Vista, and So Vicente all have international airports. Europe, Africa, and the Americas are all connected.

Because not all connections are accessible on travel booking platforms, it is generally a good idea to verify with a travel agency.

From Europe

Regular flights are available from Amsterdam, Lisbon (daily), Madrid, Milan, Munich, and Oportooperated by TACV.

TAP Portugal operates flights from Lisbon.

Jetairfly offers low-cost flights from Brussels to Sal and Boa Vista.

You can travel straight to Santa Maria on Sal from London Gatwick, Glasgow, and Manchester on Astraeus, as well as Birmingham, Manchester, and Gatwick on Thomson Holidays.

From America

There are weekly flights between Boston and Fortaleza (Brazil) (weekly).

From Africa

West Africa is also served by TACV Cabo Verde Airlines, the region’s oldest and most successful airline.

Get In – By boat

Only rare and costly links to the mainland are available.

How To Travel Around Cape Verde

Timetables in Cape Verde are not to be taken seriously; don’t be shocked if the boat leaves ahead of time or if the flight is abruptly rescheduled for tomorrow. This is something to think about if you want to go island hopping. Flights may be delayed or canceled due to weather and other factors. Carry your toothbrush with you and prepare ahead of time, particularly if you need to meet an overseas connection.

Get Around – By plane

The bulk of the islands are served by TACV Cabo Verde [www]  airlines on a regular basis.

Domestic tickets are cheaper if bought in Cape Verde if you can afford to wait until you arrive.

If your overseas flights are booked via TACV, you may buy a Cabo Verde Air Pass for travels within the next 21 days. Prices begin at €110 for two vouchers and rise to €60 for each additional coupon.

  • TACV Cabo Verde Islands [www]
  • TACV Air Pass [www]
  • TACV (German Site) [www]
  • Cabo Verde Express [www]

Get Around – By boat

Between the islands, there are ferry services. Flying may be considerably shorter but also significantly more costly depending on the distance between the islands you are traveling from and to.

Get Around – By taxi

In the main cities, nice, modern taxis are available that are not metered. Aluguers, which are typically open back pickup trucks with bench seats or 15 passenger Toyota vans, travel between more remote locations, especially on Santo Anto.

Destinations in Cape Verde

Cities in Cape Verde

There are 24 cities in Cape Verde.

  • Praia – the capital, on Santiago Island
  • Mindelo – port city on São Vicente, probably the country’s liveliest
  • Cidade Velha (Ribeira Grande) – A historic town on Santiago
  • Espargos is the capital of Sal where the airport is and Santa Maria is the main tourist area at the south of the island
  • Assomada is the seat of municipality of Santa Catarina on Santiago
  • Santa Maria – former administrative capital and the most populous city on Sal
  • São Filipe capital of island Fogo

Regions in Cape Verde

Cape Verde is made up of ten major islands and about eight islets. The major islands are as follows (clockwise from northwest):

  • Santo Antão Great hiking
  • São Vicente With the cultural capital of Mindelo.
  • Santa Luzia Santa Luzia is uninhabited but can be visited as a day trip from São Vicente.
  • São Nicolau
  • Sal There are many beaches, water activities, and resorts to choose from. But there isn’t much else.
  • Boa Vista Even nicer beaches.
  • Maio
  • Santiago Island Cape Verde was the first island to be inhabited. It is home to the present capital, Praia, as well as the ancient city, Cidade Velha, and the majority of the country’s inhabitants.
  • Fogo A spectacular volcano island which erupted as recently as 2014.
  • Brava A small island only accessible by boat and is a great place to get away from it all.

Other destinations in Cape Verde

  • Brava, the smallest of the islands, is a botanist’s delight, with numerous rare plants living in its foggy woods.
  • Pico de Fogo is an active volcano on Fogo that has produced a one-of-a-kind environment that is best explored on foot or by horseback.

Things To See in Cape Verde

  • Cidade Velha, or “Old City,” was the first European city in the tropics and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • The Cova valley on Santo Anto is situated in an extinct volcano’s crater.
  • The city hall, church, and Palace of Justice in Praia, the capital.
  • Fogo is a volcanic island, one of which erupted in 1995.

Food & Drinks in Cape Verde

Fresh fish is abundant in Cape Verde. Tuna is widely available, as is Wahoo, a white-fleshed fish with a similar texture.

  • Lagostada – a lobster dish
  • Cachupa – the national dish made from maize and potatoes. Flavorings such as fish or chicken are often used.
  • Tosta mista – Tosta mista is a traditional toasted ham and cheese sandwich.

All of the islands provide European cuisine. Sal’s favorite cuisine is Italian. Vegetarians may choose salads or omelets.

The local beverage is an ice cold lager called STRELA, but you may also get foreign beers and other drinks, including some from Portugal.

Money & Shopping in Cape Verde


The escudo, abbreviated CVE, is the official currency of Cape Verde. It is denoted by a cifro (a symbol similar to the dollar sign, but with two vertical strokes instead of one) following the quantity. The currency is pegged to the euro at 110 dollars per euro.

Euros are often accepted in the tourist islands of Sal and Boa Vista, but you may get change in escudos.

All major currencies may be exchanged at the international airports of Sal and Praia. Banks in bigger towns will also exchange money. ATMs that accept Visa, MasterCard, and Maestro are also available in larger towns.

Credit cards will be accepted at high-end hotels. Other hotels will demand cash, but many mid-tier establishments will take euros at a reasonable conversion rate (slightly worse than the banks). Expect to pay in escudos for anything else.


Because the majority of products are imported, the cost of living ranges from modest to expensive. The expense of living on the island resorts of Boa Vista and Sal is often comparable to that of their Caribbean equivalents. The island of Santiago has the lowest cost of living.

Culture Of Cape Verde

The social and cultural trends of Cape Verde are comparable to those of rural Portugal. Football (Futebol) games and church activities are both common forms of social contact and enjoyment. In Cape Verde communities, the customary stroll around the praça (town square) to greet acquaintances is still practiced on a daily basis.


Television is accessible on two channels in places with power (Cape Verdean and Portuguese).


“African, Portuguese, and Brazilian influences” may be found in Cape Verdean music. The morna, a sad and poetic song style usually performed in Cape Verdean Creole, is the country’s unmistakable national music. After morna, the most popular music genre is coladeira, followed by funaná and batuque music. Ildo Lobo and Cesária Évora are two of the most well-known Cape Verdean singers in the world, and their songs have become emblematic of the nation and its culture.

There are other well-known musicians that were born to Cape Verdean parents and have succeeded in the worldwide music industry. Jazz pianist Horace Silver, Duke Ellington’s saxophonist Paul Gonsalves, Teófilo Chantre, Paul Pena, the Tavares brothers, and vocalist Lura are among those featured.


The gentle dance morna, the intense sensuality of coladeira, the Cape Verdean variant of the Guadeloupean zouk called Cabo love, the Funaná (a sensual mixed Portuguese and African dance), and the Batuque dance are all examples of dance styles.


The literature of Cape Verde is among the richest in Lusophone Africa. Famous poets and writers include Baltasar Lopes da Silva, António Aurélio Gonçalves, Manuel Lopes, Orlanda Amarlis, Henrique Teixeira de Sousa, Arménio Vieira, Kaubverdianu Dambará, Dr. Azágua, and Germano Almeida.


The Cape Verdean diet is mostly composed of seafood and basic foods such as maize and rice. Potatoes, onions, tomatoes, manioc, cabbage, kale, and dry beans are available most of the year. Fruits like bananas and papayas are accessible all year, while mangoes and avocados are seasonal.

Cachupa, a slow-cooked stew of maize (hominy), beans, and fish or meat, is a popular meal in Cape Verde. The pastel, a pastry shell filled with fish or meat that is subsequently fried, is a popular appetizer.

History Of Cape Verde

The Cape Verde Islands were uninhabited prior to the advent of Europeans. The islands of the Cape Verde archipelago were discovered in 1456 by Genoese and Portuguese navigators. According to official Portuguese records, the initial discoveries were made by António de Noli, a Genoa native who was later named governor of Cape Verde by Portuguese King Afonso V. Diogo Gomes (who was with António de Noli and claimed to be the first to arrive on and name Santiago island), Diogo Dias, Diogo Afonso, and the Italian (Venice-born) Alvise Cadamosto are among the other navigators cited as having contributed to discoveries in the Cape Verde archipelago.

In 1462, Portuguese immigrants came in Santiago and established Ribeira Grande (today known as Cidade Velha to prevent confusion with the town of Ribeira Grande on the Santo Anto island). The first permanent European settlement in the tropics was Ribeira Grande.

The Atlantic slave trade flourished the archipelago in the 16th century. Pirates would sometimes assault Portuguese villages. Sir Francis Drake, an English corsair privateering under an English crown-granted letter of marque, sacked the (then) capital Ribeira Grande twice in 1585, while it was a member of the Iberian Union. Following a French invasion in 1712, the town’s significance decreased in comparison to neighboring Praia, which became the capital in 1770.

The decline of the slave trade in the nineteenth century caused an economic catastrophe. Cape Verde’s early wealth faded over time. The islands’ location astride mid-Atlantic trade routes, on the other hand, gave Cape Verde an excellent site for ship resupply. Mindelo (on the island of So Vicente) became a significant economic center throughout the nineteenth century due to its superb harbor. In 1832, diplomat Edmund Roberts paid a visit to Cape Verde.

With limited natural resources and little long-term investment from the Portuguese, the people became more dissatisfied with the colonial rulers, who refused to give the local government greater authority. In an effort to temper rising nationalism, Portugal altered Cape Verde’s status from colony to overseas province in 1951. In 1956, Amlcar Cabral and a handful of fellow Cape Verdeans and Guineans formed the clandestine African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (in Portuguese Guinea) (PAIGC).

It called for better economic, social, and political circumstances in Cape Verde and Portuguese Guinea, and it served as the foundation for the two countries’ independence movements. In 1961, the PAIGC launched an armed revolt against Portugal after relocating its headquarters to Conakry, Guinea. Acts of sabotage ultimately escalated into a war in Portuguese Guinea, pitting 10,000 PAIGC fighters backed by the Soviet Bloc against 35,000 Portuguese and African troops.

Despite the presence of Portuguese soldiers, the PAIGC controlled most of Portuguese Guinea by 1972, but the group made no effort to undermine Portuguese authority in Cape Verde. Portuguese Guinea gained de jure independence in 1974 after declaring independence in 1973. A nascent independence campaign, headed by Amlcar Cabral, who was murdered in 1973, was handed over to his half-brother Lus Cabral, and resulted in the archipelago’s independence in 1975.

Independence (1975)

Following the revolution in Portugal in April 1974, the PAIGC became an active political organization in Cape Verde. The PAIGC and Portugal reached an agreement in December 1974 that established a transitional administration comprised of Portuguese and Cape Verdeans. Cape Verdeans elected a National Assembly on June 30, 1975, which received the instruments of independence from Portugal on July 5, 1975. Most African nations banned South African Airways from conducting overflights in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but Cape Verde permitted them and became a hub for the airline’s flights to Europe and the United States.

Relations between Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau deteriorated immediately after the November 1980 coup in Guinea-Bissau. Cape Verde abandoned its hopes for unification with Guinea-Bissau and established the African Party for Cape Verdean Independence (PAICV). Since then, the problems have been addressed, and the nations’ ties have improved. From independence until 1990, the PAICV and its predecessor created a one-party system and governed Cape Verde.

In response to mounting calls for pluralistic democracy, the PAICV convened an emergency congress in February 1990 to debate proposed constitutional amendments to eliminate one-party control. In April 1990, opposition organizations in Praia formed the Movement for Democracy (MPD). They campaigned together for the opportunity to run in the December 1990 presidential election.

On September 28, 1990, the one-party state was dissolved, and the first multi-party elections were conducted in January 1991. The MPD gained a majority of seats in the National Assembly, while António Mascarenhas Monteiro, the MPD’s presidential candidate, beat the PAICV’s nominee with 73.5 percent of the vote. Legislative elections in December 1995 strengthened the MPD’s National Assembly majority. The party gained 50 of the 72 seats in the National Assembly.

President Monteiro was re-elected in a presidential election held in February 1996. Legislative elections in January 2001 restored the PAICV to power, with the PAICV having 40 of the National Assembly seats, the MPD 30, and the Party for Democratic Convergence (PCD) and Labour and Solidarity Party (PTS) each holding one. Pedro Pires, a PAICV-backed presidential candidate, beat former MPD leader Carlos Veiga by just 13 votes in February 2001.

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