Interesting facts about Cape Verde

cape verde flag

Cape Verde is a nation on a volcanic archipelago off the western coast of Africa.

The official name of the country is the Republic of Cabo Verde.

It is located in the central Atlantic Ocean approximately 570 kilometers (350 miles) off the western coast of the African continent, near Senegal, The Gambia, and Mauritania.

The official language is Portuguese.

As of 1 January 2017, the population of Cape Verde was estimated to be 529,618 people.

It is the 166th largest country in the world in terms of land area with 4,033 square kilometers (1,557 square miles).

The country is a horseshoe-shaped cluster of ten islands (nine inhabited) and eight islets.

cape verde map

The islands are divided into two groups:
• The Barlavento Islands (windward islands): Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Luzia, São Nicolau, Sal, and Boa Vista
• The Sotavento Islands (leeward islands): Maio, Santiago, Fogo, Brava

Santiago is the archipelago’s largest island, both in size and population.

Praia is the capital and largest city of Cape Verd. It lies on the southern coast of Santiago island. It is the island’s ferry port and is home to one of the nation’s four international airports. The city center is known as Platô due to its location on a small plateau.


The terrain of the Cabo Verde islands varies from the geologically older, flatter islands in the east and the newer, more mountainous islands in the west.

Pico do Fogo is the highest peak of Cape Verde, rising to 2,829 meters (9,281 feet) above sea level. It is an active stratovolcano lying on the island of Fogo. The main cone last erupted in 1675, causing mass emigration from the island. Its most recent eruptions have occurred in 1951, 1995 and 2014.

pico do fogo

The coastline of the islands total 965 kilometers (600 miles) in length.

The coasts on the eastern islands are shallow as they slope into the sea, while the western islands have steep cliffs of up to 800 metres (2,625 feet) bordering on the ocean.

The beaches in Cape Verde are among some of the most beautiful in the world, dotted across the country’s archipelago and presenting a diverse array of landscapes, surroundings and environments.

cape verde beach

The Pedra de Lume crater is around 900 meters in radius and is an extinct volcano. The area features salt evaporation ponds built over a natural salt lake that formed through infiltration of water from the sea, since the base of the crater is below the sea level, thus forming the lowest point in Cape Verde. Pedra de Lume saltworks was listed to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, but never became one and it remains in the tentative list.

pedra de lume salt

The town of Ribeira Grande, renamed Cidade Velha in the late 18th century, was the first European colonial outpost in the tropics. Located in the south of the island of Santiago, the town features some of the original street layout impressive remains including two churches, a royal fortress and Pillory Square with its ornate 16th century marble pillar. It became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009.

cidade velha

Before the arrival of Europeans, the Cape Verde Islands were uninhabited. The islands of the Cape Verde archipelago were discovered by Genoese and Portuguese navigators around 1456. According to Portuguese official records, the first discoveries were made by Genoa-born António de Noli, who was afterwards appointed governor of Cape Verde by Portuguese King Afonso V.

Ideally located for the Atlantic slave trade, the islands grew prosperous throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, attracting merchants, privateers, and pirates.

cape verde history painting

Decline in the slave trade in the 19th century resulted in an economic crisis. Cape Verde’s early prosperity slowly vanished. However, the islands’ position astride mid-Atlantic shipping lanes made
Cape Verde an ideal location for re-supplying ships. Because of its excellent harbour, Mindelo (on the island of São Vicente) became an important commercial centre during the 19th century.

Incorporated as an overseas department of Portugal in 1951, the islands continued to agitate for independence, which was peacefully achieved in 1975.


Since the early 1990s, Cape Verde has been a stable representative democracy, and remains one of the most developed and democratic countries in Africa.

The name of the country stems from the nearby Cap-Vert, on the Senegalese coast. In 1444 Portuguese explorers had named that landmark as Cabo Verde, a few years before they discovered the islands. (Verde is Portuguese for “green”).

Cape Verde has few natural resources. Only five of the ten main islands (Santiago, Santo Antão, São Nicolau, Fogo, and Brava) normally support significant agricultural production, and about 75% of all food consumed in Cape Verde is imported.

Cape Verde’s climate is milder than on the African mainland, being islands there is the natural air conditioning provided by the coastal winds, making the temperature more moderate. Average temperatures during the day, range from 25°C (77°F) in January the coolest month, to 30°C (86°F) in September, the hottest month.

Scuba diving and snorkeling in Cape Verde islands is absolutely fantastic. There are a lot of known reefs, several ship wrecks and even sharks to be seen. Cape Verde islands are also known for having several nesting beaches for big sea turtles, the loggerhead turtle.

Charles Darwin studied flora and fauna in Cape Verde in 1832.

There are more Cape Verdians living abroad than in the country.

The official unit of currency is the Cape Verdean Escudo (CVE), which is made up of 100 centavos.