Full country name: Republic of Cabo Verde
Population: approximately 500,000
Area: 4030 sq km (1557 sq mi)
Capital city: Praia (pop 110,000)
People: Creole (mulatto) 71%, African 28%, European 1% Languages: Portuguese, Crioulo (a blend of Creole Portuguese and West African words)
Religions: Roman Catholic (infused with indigenous beliefs), Protestant
President: Jorge Carlos Fonseca
Prime Minister: Jose Maria Neves
Economy GDP: US$585 million
GDP per head: US$3,500
Annual growth: 7%
Major industries: food and beverages, fish processing, shoes and garments, salt mining, ship repair, bananas, corn, beans, sweet potatoes, sugarcane, coffee, peanuts, fish
Major trading partners: Portugal, Germany, Spain, France, UK, Malaysia, The Netherlands, USA
The Cabo Verde islands are in the Atlantic Ocean, 620km (385mi) west of West Africa's coast at Mauritania and 450 km off the coast of Senegal. There are 10 major islands (9 of them inhabited) and 5 islets, all of volcanic origin and grouped into the Barlavento (Windward) group (Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Luzia, Ilheu Branco, Ilheu Raso, São Nicolau, Sal and Boa Vista) to the north and the Sotavento (Leeward) group (Maio, São Tiago, Fogo and Brava) to the south.
The interior of the main island, Santiago, is mountainous, and Fogo has the islands' highest peak, Volcano of Fogo (2840m/9320ft). With a total land area of 4,033 km Cabo Verde is one of the five Atlantic Archipelagos of the Macaronésia. The others are Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands and the Savage Isles.
Because it is situated in a zone where the Northeast winds predominate and increase intensity until the month of July, Cabo Verde has a milder climate than those neighboring countries located on the same latitude. The rainy season is during August, September and October, and from year to year and island to island the rainfall is quite unpredictable. However, this does not prevent Cabo Verde from enjoying summer all year round. The East winds blowing from the African continent is extremely warm and usually arrives during January and February. The climate is tropical and dry. The standard temperature remains around 25° and the changes do not exceed the 10° due to the influence from the ocean. In the sea the temperatures stay between the low of 21° in February and March and the high of 25° in September and October.
Many of the islands are arid and hilly, and cultivation of the hillsides has caused widespread soil erosion. Santo Antão and Brava have the highest rainfall and tends to be much greener than the other islands. Common plants in the islands include rhododendrons, the fire tree, dragon tree, marmulano, corn plant and the Florida Beauty dracaena. Among the islands' most colorful fauna are its coral and fish, especially in the waters around Sal, where you'll see parrot fish, barracuda and moray eels. You might also spot blue and humpback whales, the narrow-snouted dolphin, harbor porpoise and loggerhead, green and hawksbill turtles. The Raza Island lark, Cabo Verde petrel, brown booby, frigate bird, tropic bird and Cabo Verde warbler are among the birds winging around the archipelago. Creepy crawlies include the Cabo Verde skink and the giant Cabo Verde gecko.
Cabo Verde has the coolest temperatures of any country in West Africa. Daily highs range from 20°C (68°F) to around 29°C (84°F) from August to October, when there can also be rainstorms. Due to ocean currents, the sea is also considerably chillier than along the West African coast.
Learn more about Cabo Verde Islands:
Culture: For its tiny size, Cabo Verde has produced a wealth of literature...
Food: the national dish, "catchupa", means home to Caboverdeans everywhere...
History: When Portuguese first landed in Cabo Verde in 1456, the islands were barren of people but...
People: 80 percent of the population is mestizo, 17 percent black and 3 percent white...
Politics: Cabo Verde has a rapidly maturing and working democracy that is known widely as an African success story.
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