52 Amazing Facts About Cape Verde

Last updated on November 17th, 2017

Cape Verde or Cabo Verde, officially the Republic of Cabo Verde, is an island country in the central Atlantic Ocean. It was an uninhabited island which was first discovered and colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th century. Let’s learn more about the archipelago with these facts that cover its history, culture, people, tourism, geography and more.

About history & geography

#1. The name of the islands originates from the Cap-Vert peninsula in West Africa.

#2. Location: it lies in Western Africa, west of Senegal, and is a group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean.

#3. It remained under the Portuguese control until 1975. After some years, it became a trading center for African slaves and a resupply and coaling stop for whaling and transatlantic shipping. In 1876, the slave trade was abolished on the island.

#4. Approximately only 10-11% of the island’s land is suitable for agriculture.

#5. The archipelago lies approximately 600 km off the coast of West Africa.

#6. Santiago, Fogo and Santo Antao are the islands that see the most rainfall while Sal, Boa Vista, and Maio see almost no rain.

#7. Nine of the ten islands of the archipelago are inhabited.

#8. These islands are divided into two groups: Barlavento (windward) islands: 1. Santo Antão, 2. São Vicente, 3. Santa Luzia, 4. São Nicolau, 5. Sal, and 6. Boa Vista; and Sotavento (leeward) islands: 7. Maio, 8. Santiago, 9. Fogo, and 10. Brava.

Map of Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

fact file Cabo Verde regions map
Map showing the ten islands of the archipelago – Cape Verde. Image credit – Wikitravel.org

#9. It also has eight islets (small islands).

#10. Santo Antão is the second largest island in the archipelago. The island is popular with hikers as it provides the perfect terrain for the hikers to test their endurance and skills on a vertical isle which is ruptured with canyons, valleys, and gorges.

Also read: Facts about Nauru (an island country in Micronesia in the Central Pacific.)

#11. Pico do Fogo is the highest peak of Cape Verde, rising to 2,829 meters (9,281 ft) above sea level. It rises out of the floor of an ancient crater known as Chã das Caldeiras. The crater was formed when some 300 cubic km of the island collapsed and slid into the sea to the east.

#12. Cape Verde has a town–Cidade Velha–located at the south of the island of Santiago. It was the first European colonial outpost in the tropics. It is also home to a cultural UNESCO World Heritage site.

#13. The combined size of these islands is just over 4000 square kilometers.

#14. Santiago is the largest island of all both in population and size. It is also home to the capital city, Praia.

#15. Mt Fogo, Cabo Verde’s highest peak, last erupted from late 2014 to early 2015.

#16. Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau were a joint country until 1980.

#17. The first multi-party elections were held in Cape Verde in January 1981 after abolishing the one-party state on 28 September 1990 (Note: a single-party system is a type of state in which one political party has the right to form the government, usually based on the existing constitution.)

#18. Also in late 2007, the country became a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

#19. Famous visitors: Charles Darwin once visited Cape Verde. He almost spent 21 days in the islands. Christopher Columbus also visited the island of Boa Vista in 1498. And Vasco da Gama visited Santiago in 1497.

About people, economy, government, military, food

#20. The country is blessed with one of Africa’s most stable democratic governments.

#21. Majority of Cape Verdeans have both African and Portuguese antecedents.

#22. The nation’s expatriate population is greater than its domestic population because of the repeated droughts that the country experienced during the second half of the 20th century leading to the heavy emigration of the local population. Cabo Verdeans have moved to other countries including US, Europe, Africa, and South America.

Flag of Cape Verde

Flag of Cape Verde
Flag of Cape Verde. Image credit – CIA

#23. Cape Verde (2007) is the only second country after Botswana (1994) to have graduated from the United Nations’ list of Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

#24. It is estimated that the islands have one goat for every two people.

#25. Cape Verde has no known oil or gas resources.

#26. In the World Press Freedom Index in 2014, Reporters Without Borders, listed Cape Verde at the second spot among African countries.

#27. In August 2016, active local transmission of Zika virus by Aedes species mosquitoes has been identified in Cabo Verde. Travels were warned against the risk of the spread of this disease via mosquito bites, sex, and transfusion of blood.

#28. Cerebrovascular disease, ischemic heart disease, lower respiratory infection, HIV/AIDS, self-harm, diabetes, stomach cancer, interpersonal violence, neonatal preterm birth, chronic kidney disease, congenital defects, and other cardiovascular diseases are the leading causes of most deaths in Cape Verde. The data was compiled by Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

#29. Some of the risk factors that drive the most death and disability in Cape Verde include: high systolic blood pressure, dietary risks, child and maternal malnutrition, air pollution, alcohol and drug use, high fasting plasma glucose, unsafe sex, high body-mass index, tobacco smoke, unsafe water, sanitation, and handwashing.

#30. With the help of inputs from the World Bank and the EU, Cape Vered is set to become one of the largest per-capita aid recipients in the world.

#31. African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICY) and Movement for Democracy (MPD) are the two main political parties in Cape Verde.

#32. There are approximately 1200 active personnel in Cape Verde’s military.

#33. In Cabo Verde, the President is the head of state and the Prime Minister is the head of the government.

#34. The archipelago also has a small museum dedicated to preserving the memory of freedom fighter Amilcar Cabral (1924–73). He helped lead an independence movement for Cabo Verde and Guinea-Bissau and was assassinated in 1973.

#35. Repeated famine and epidemics have played a crucial role in deaths and emigration of the local people and as a result, the country’s overall population has fluctuated significantly. The country is also prone to volcanic and seismic activity.

#36. The standard of living in Cape Verde is higher than that of most of other African nations thanks to its most stable democracy.

#37. Culturally, the Barlavento islands identify more with the Portuguese colonizers while the Sotavento islands identify with the Africans.

Also learn: facts about Portugal

#38. Corn is the staple food of Cabo Verde. And Cachupa is their national dish.

#39. Sugar cane liquor is a popular drink on the islands, especially among the men.

#40. The long-eared bat is the only native animal to the island.

#41. Alexander’s Swift, Bourne’s Heron, The Raso Lark, The Cape Verde Warbler, The Iago Sparrow, The Cape Verde Shearwater are some of the native birds to the island.

About tourism, roadways, railways, airways

#42. Tourism plays a predominant role in country’s economy.

#43. Due to the efforts and strategic planning by Cape Verde’s government, poverty levels were down from 37% in 2001 to 27% in 2007.

#44. Cape Verde is a popular tourist destination. As compared to 2015, The Archipelago saw a 13.6% increase in tourists in 2016.

#45. According to tradingeconomics.com, a whopping 195,163 tourists visited the archipelago in the first quarter of 2017.

#46. Praia de Santa Maria beach was voted as one of the top 25 beaches in the world in TripAdvisor’s 2017 Travelers’ Choice.

#47. Sal, one of the windward islands of the archipelago, sees more tourists than any other island in the archipelago. It has a beautiful beach which stretches for 8 kilometers along the coast.

#48. There are no railways in Cape Verde.

#49. There are seven operational airports in Cape Verde. The country has only one airport which is over 3,047 m in length.

#50. Cape Verde has a total road network of 1,350 km.

#51. Porto Grande is the major sea port in the country.

#52. According to World Bank’s 2007 report, the country has 73 cars for every 1000 people.

Cape Verde – country at a glance

Independence5 July 1975 (from Portugal)
Capital CityPraia
14°55′N 23°31′W
Largest CityPraia
14°55′N 23°31′W
Total area4,033 sq km
Population560,899 (July 2017 est.)
Government typeparliamentary republic
PresidentJorge Carlos Fonseca
Prime MinisterUlisses Correia e Silva
Suffrage18 years of age; universal
DemonymCape Verdean or Cabo Verdean
National anthem"Cantico da Liberdade" (Song of Freedom)
Official LanguagePortuguese
CurrencyCape Verdean escudo (CVE)
ReligionRoman catholics
Life expectancy72.4 years (2017)
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
Climatetemperate; warm, dry summer; precipitation meager and erratic
Terrainsteep, rugged, rocky, volcanic
Natural resourcessalt, basalt rock, limestone, kaolin, fish, clay, gypsum
Agricultural land18.6%
Birth rate20 births/1,000 population (2017 est.)
Death rate6 deaths/1,000 population (2017 est.)
Sex ratio0.94 male(s)/female (2017 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$6,900 (2017 est.)
Industriesfood and beverages, fish processing, shoes and garments, salt mining, ship repair
Exports$158.6 million (2017 est.)
fuel (re-exports), shoes, garments, fish, hides
Imports$724.8 million (2017 est.)
foodstuffs, industrial products, transport equipment, fuels
National symbolten, five-pointed, yellow stars
National colorsblue, white, red, yellow
Time ZoneCVT (UTC-1)
Internet country code.cv
Calling Code+238
Drives on theRight
Data sourcesCIA, Wikipedia
Table last updatedJuly 15, 2018