Cape Verde

Cape 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 – 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, Sao Nicolaou Island, Cape Verde

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

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 – The 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).

Holidays in Cape Verde. Prices - 2022

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. The author of the photo is Marian Diaz.

The 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 the 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. Visitors are not afraid of 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.

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 brewed 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.

Holidays in Cape Verde. Prices - 2022

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. Railway transport on the archipelago is absent.

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

Sal Island, Cabo Verde Ideal place to stop on the way to South America. Photo by 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.

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.

Holidays in Cape Verde. Prices - 2022

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 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 was spent on the singer’s money.

Beaches, shipwrecks, forts: What to do in Cape Verde

Photo: Shutterstock

The Republic of Cape Verde is known to the general European public in the same way as Wakanda in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that is, almost nothing. The state in West Africa, more precisely on the Cape Verde Islands – 600 km from the mainland – gained independence in 1975, and before that was one of the Portuguese colonies for five centuries (once ownership of the islands passed to Spain, but the Portuguese regained ownership).

Holidays in Cape Verde. Prices - 2022

Now Cape Verde is a parliamentary republic with President Georges Carlos Fonseca at the helm (he was elected for a second term in 2016). The legal system is based on the legal traditions of Portugal, is committed to the liberalization of the economy, encourages trade unions and civil or religious marriage, and establishes equal rights for spouses. In foreign policy, the country cooperates with leading European states, as well as with China, Japan and the United States. The Russian diplomatic mission appeared on the islands in 1975, as soon as the republic gained independence.

Photo: Shutterstock

There are about half a million people on the islands (44% are below the poverty line). They speak Portuguese, French and many African languages (Swahili, which was studied by Sergey Lavrov, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, is also among them). They grow sugar cane, are engaged in fishing and salt mining. But the main item of income – tourism, supported by investors from Spain, Germany, Portugal, Australia and France.

Let’s take a look at Cape Verde’s main tourism offerings.

The name of the capital of the republic means “shore, coast, beach” in Portuguese. The international airport receives flights from Amsterdam, Casablanca and Lisbon, as well as neighboring states and domestic routes in the archipelago. The transport system in the city is decently developed. Praia is tiny – a little larger than Pyatigorsk and a little smaller than Simferopol. Here the European architecture left by the colonists, there are restaurants, bars and nightclubs. It is definitely worth a walk through the capital: the central square of Albuquerque with the Presidential Palace, Ethnographic Museum and Town Hall, as well as the alley named after Amilcar Cabral.

Photo: Shutterstock


The largest island, where the capital of the Republic is located, attracts tourists with the Portuguese Fort of St. Philip in Cidade Velha (Old Town). It was the first construction by Europeans on the archipelago. The fortress was built in 1590 to protect the city of Cidade Velha against pirates. Its walls are decorated with ship cannons lifted from the ocean floor. The city is worth seeing and walking around – its center is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as “Europe’s first colonial outpost in the tropics.”

Photo: Shutterstock

San Nicolau

The island is famous for the rock “Rotcha Scribida”, riddled with ancient writings, the content of which no one has been able to decipher. According to legend, the writings were left by the earliest inhabitants of the island, who lived here before it was discovered by European sailors. You have to hurry to see the evidence of ancient people’s stay: the rock is not protected in any way from the effects of the environment – the writings are gradually disappearing.

Holidays in Cape Verde. Prices - 2022

Photo: Shutterstock

Gastronomic impressions

Traditional Cape Verdean cuisine is on a global trend: seafood and fish dominate, along with vegetables and herbs, that is, all the desired ingredients for adherents of healthy eating. Restaurants offer lobster, octopus and crayfish, as well as tuna and sea bass caught off the coast of the archipelago. Game and meat are also on the menu. Tropical fruits are left for dessert.

The national dish is kachupa, a local stew made of whatever comes to hand. Fish, beef, chicken, bacon, beans, pumpkin, yams, onions, and other foods are usually used. Everything is carefully stewed together for three days. There are poor and rich kachupa (as the locals call them). The first differs from the second in the number of ingredients.

Photo: Shutterstock

Active Recreation

Cape Verde is a volcanic archipelago, which is certainly reflected in the landscape. It is a mountainous desert area with a “Martian” landscape and poor vegetation. It is ideal for hiking, trekking and extreme sports. Among these is the “Volcanic Snowboarding”. In the absence of snow, it is proposed to descend on a board directly from the top of the volcano. This is a very popular entertainment practiced on Fugu Island among the tourists-sorvids.

Diving is an obvious recreational activity for Cape Verde. The beaches here are picturesque, the reefs and rocks are moderately dangerous. At the bottom is an exposition of sunken ships, adding a dashing fairy tale to underwater views. The best places for diving are the islands of Sal, Boavisita and Sanyagu. It is best to come to Cape Verde for this purpose from April to November.

Photo: Shutterstock

Another type of water activities is windsurfing. Cabo Verde can do it all year round, so surf clubs and a culture that is ready to accommodate both professionals and first-time boarders are flourishing here.

The terrain of Santo Antau will appeal to trekking enthusiasts. Hiking can be diluted with flying (the island has a hang-glider option) or biking.

In the end, no one forbids “seal” on the beach: Cabo Verde’s sparsely populated, pristine beaches are equipped with everything you need (even free sun loungers).

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