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Republic of Cape Verde
República de Cabo Verde
Flag National Emblem
AnthemCântico da Liberdade  (Portuguese)
Song of Freedom

(and largest city)
14°55′N 23°31′W / 14.917°N 23.517°W / 14.917; -23.517
Official language(s) Portuguese
Recognised regional languages Cape Verdean Creole
Demonym Cape Verdean
Government Republic
 -  President Pedro Pires
 -  Prime Minister José Maria Neves
 -  from Portugal July 5, 1975 
 -  Total 4,033 km2 (172nd)
1,557 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) negligible
 -  2010 estimate 516,733[1] (165th)
 -  2009 census 509,000[2] 
 -  Density 125.5/km2 (79th)
325.0/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $1.749 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $3,472[3] 
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $1.744 billion[3] 
 -  Per capita $3,464[3] 
HDI (2007) 0.708[4] (medium) (121nd)
Currency Cape Verdean escudo (CVE)
Time zone CVT (UTC-1)
 -  Summer (DST) not observed (UTC-1)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .cv
Calling code +238

The Republic of Cape Verde (pronounced /ˌkeɪp ˈvɜrd/ ( listen); Portuguese: Cabo Verde, pronounced [ˈkabu ˈveɾdɨ]) is an island country, spanning an archipelago located in the Macaronesia ecoregion of the Central Atlantic Ocean, off the western coast of Africa, opposite Mauritania and Senegal.

It is slightly more than 4,000 square kilometres (1,500 sq mi) in area with an estimated population of over 500,000. The capital of Cape Verde is Praia. The previously uninhabited islands were discovered and colonised by the Portuguese in the 15th century, and attained independence from Portugal in 1975.

As of 2007, Cape Verde is classified as a developing country after being promoted from Least Developed Countries status. About 20% of the population lives on less than $1.25 (U.S.) a day.[5]



The Islands of Cape Verde archipelago were discovered by Italian and Portuguese navigators around 1460. According to Portuguese official records [6] the first discoveries were made by Genoese born Antonio de Noli, who was also first appointed governor of Cape Verde by Portuguese King Afonso V. Other navigators mentioned as contributing with discoveries in the Cape Verde archipelago are Diogo Gomes, Diogo Dias, Diogo Afonso and the Italian Alvise Cadamosto.

Before the arrival of Europeans, the Cape Verde Islands were uninhabited. In 1462, Portuguese settlers arrived at Santiago and founded a settlement they called Ribeira Grande (now called Cidade Velha, to avoid being confused with the town of Ribeira Grande on the Santo Antão island). Ribeira Grande was the first permanent European settlement in the tropics.[7]

The Portuguese named the islands Cabo Verde (from which the English Cape Verde derives), after the nearby Cap Vert on the Senegalese coast.[8] In the 16th century, the archipelago prospered from the transatlantic slave trade.[7] Pirates occasionally attacked the Portuguese settlements. Sir Francis Drake sacked Ribeira Grande in 1585.[7] After a French attack in 1712, the town declined in importance relative to nearby Praia, which became the capital in 1770.[7]

With the decline in the slave trade, 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 center during the 19th century.[7]

In 1951, Portugal changed Cape Verde's status from a colony to an overseas province in an attempt to blunt growing nationalism. Nevertheless, in 1956, Amilcar Cabral, a Cape Verdean, and a group of Cape Verdeans and Guineans organized (in Portuguese Guinea) the clandestine African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), which demanded improvement in economic, social, and political conditions in Cape Verde and Portuguese Guinea and formed the basis of the two nations' independence movement. Moving its headquarters to Conakry, Guinea in 1960, the PAIGC began an armed rebellion against Portugal in 1961. Acts of sabotage eventually grew into a war in Portuguese Guinea that pitted 10,000 Soviet bloc-supported PAIGC soldiers against 35,000 Portuguese and African troops.[7]

By 1972, the PAIGC controlled much of Portuguese Guinea despite the presence of the Portuguese troops, but the organization did not attempt to disrupt Portuguese control in Cape Verde. Portuguese Guinea declared independence in 1973 and was granted de jure independence in 1974. Following the April 1974 revolution in Portugal, the PAIGC became an active political movement in Cape Verde. In December 1974, the PAIGC and Portugal signed an agreement providing for a transitional government composed of Portuguese and Cape Verdeans. On June 30, 1975, Cape Verdeans elected a National Assembly, which received the instruments of independence from Portugal on July 5, 1975.[7]

Immediately following the November 1980 coup in Guinea-Bissau, relations between Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau became strained. Cape Verde abandoned its hope for unity with Guinea-Bissau and formed the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV). Problems have since been resolved, and relations between the countries are good. The PAICV and its predecessor established a one-party system and ruled Cape Verde from independence until 1990.[7]

Responding to growing pressure for pluralistic democracy, the PAICV called an emergency congress in February 1990 to discuss proposed constitutional changes to end one-party rule. Opposition groups came together to form the Movement for Democracy (MPD) in Praia in April 1990. Together, they campaigned for the right to contest the presidential election scheduled for December 1990.

The one-party state was abolished September 28, 1990, and the first multi-party elections were held in January 1991. The MPD won a majority of the seats in the National Assembly, and MPD presidential candidate António Mascarenhas Monteiro defeated the PAICV's candidate with 73.5% of the votes. Legislative elections in December 1995 increased the MPD majority in the National Assembly. The party won 50 of the National Assembly's 72 seats.

A February 1996 presidential election returned President Monteiro to office. Legislative elections in January 2001 returned power to the PAICV, with the PAICV holding 40 of the National Assembly seats, MPD 30, and Party for Democratic Convergence (PCD) and Party for Labor and Solidarity(PTS) 1 each. In February 2001, the PAICV-supported presidential candidate Pedro Pires defeated former MPD leader Carlos Veiga by only 13 votes.[7]


Current president of Cape Verde, Pedro Pires, meeting with Brazilian president Lula da Silva.

Cape Verde is a stable democracy. The Cape Verde constitution—adopted in 1980 and revised in 1992, 1995, and 1999—forms the basis of government. The president is head of state and is elected by popular vote for a 5-year term. The prime minister is head of government and proposes other ministers and secretaries of state. The prime minister is nominated by the National Assembly and appointed by the president. Members of the National Assembly are elected by popular vote for 5-year terms. Three parties now hold seats in the National Assembly—PAICV 40, MPD 30, and Cape Verdean Independent Democratic Union (UCID) 2.[7]

The judicial system consists of a Supreme Court of Justice — whose members are appointed by the president, the National Assembly, and the Board of the Judiciary — and regional courts. Separate courts hear civil, constitutional, and criminal cases. Appeal is to the Supreme Court.[7]

In 2009, Cape Verde placed 2nd out of 53 African countries (including North African countries) in the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, scoring very well in Safety and Security and Rule of Law, Transparency and Corruption. The Ibrahim Index is a comprehensive measure of African governance, based on a number of different variables which reflect the success with which governments deliver essential political goods to its citizens. [1]

Cape Verde follows a policy of nonalignment and seeks cooperative relations with all friendly states.[7] Angola, Brazil, the People's Republic of China, Cuba, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Senegal, Russia, and the United States maintain embassies in Praia.[7] Cape Verde is actively interested in foreign affairs, especially in Africa.[7] It has bilateral relations with some Lusophone nations and holds membership in a number of international organizations.[7] It also participates in most international conferences on economic and political issues.[7] Cape Verde has a Special Partnership status [9] with the EU and might apply for membership.[10]

The military of Cape Verde consists of a coast guard and an army; 0.7% of the country's GDP was spent on the military in 2005.

Geography and climate

The Cape Verde archipelago is located approximately 604 kilometres (375 mi) off the coast of West Africa. It is composed of ten islands (of which nine are inhabited) and eight islets.[11] The islands have a combined size of just over 4,000 square kilometers.[11] The islands are divided into the Barlavento (windward) islands (Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Luzia, São Nicolau, Sal, and Boa Vista) and the Sotavento (leeward) islands (Maio, Santiago, Fogo, and Brava).[11] The largest island, both in size and population, is Santiago, where the capital of Praia is located.[11]

Climate chart (explanation)
average max. and min. temperatures in °C
precipitation totals in mm

Though Cape Verde's islands are all volcanic in origin, they vary widely in terrain.[11] A still-active volcano on the island of Fogo is the highest point on the archipelago (elevation 2,829 meters).[11] Extensive salt flats are found on Sal and Maio.[11] On Santiago, Santo Antão, and São Nicolau, arid slopes give way in places to sugarcane fields or banana plantations spread along the base of towering mountains.[11]

Cape Verde’s climate is milder than that of the African mainland; because the island is surrounded by the sea, temperatures are generally moderate.[11] Average daily high temperatures range from 25 °C (77 °F) in January to 29 °C (84 °F) in September.[12] Cape Verde is part of the Sahelian arid belt, with nothing like the rainfall levels of nearby West Africa.[11] It does rain irregularly between August and October, with frequent brief-but-heavy downpours.[11] A desert is usually defined as terrain which receives less than 250 mm of annual rainfall.[13] Cape Verde's total (261 mm) is slightly above this criterion, which makes the area climate semi-desert.

Cape Verde's isolation has resulted in the islands having a number of endemic species, particularly bird and reptiles, many of which are endangered by human development. Endemic birds include Alexander's Swift (Apus alexandri), Bourne's Heron (Ardea purpurea bournei), the Raso Lark (Alauda razae), the Cape Verde Warbler (Acrocephalus brevipennis), and the Iago Sparrow (Passer iagoensis).[14] The islands are also an important breeding area for seabirds including the Cape Verde Shearwater. Reptiles include the Cape Verde Giant Gecko (Tarentola gigas).

The islands are geologically principally composed of igneous rocks, with basic volcanics and pyroclastics comprising the majority of the total volume. The volcanic and plutonic rocks are distinctly basic in character. The archipelago is an example of a soda-alkaline petrographic province, with a petrologic succession which is similar to that found in other Mid Atlantic islands. Mount Fogo is an active volcano which most recently erupted in 1995. Fogo’s caldera is 8 km in diameter, the rim is at an elevation of 1600 m with an interior cone rising to 2830 m from the crater's floor level. Calderas probably result from the subsidence, following the partial evacuation of the magma chamber, of a cylindrical block into the supplying magma chamber, in this case lying at a depth of some 8 km. The archipelago has been dated at approximately 180 million years old.[15]

Hurricanes that form near the Cape Verde Islands are sometimes referred to as Cape Verde-type hurricanes. These hurricanes can become very intense as they cross warm Atlantic waters.

Administrative divisions

Cape Verde is divided into 22 municipalities (concelhos) and subdivided into 32 parishes (freguesias):


Municipal market in S. Vicente.

Cape Verde has few natural resources and suffers from scant rainfall and limited fresh water. Only 4 of the 10 main islands (Santiago, Santo Antão, Fogo, and Brava) normally support significant agricultural production, and over 90% of all food consumed in Cape Verde is imported. Mineral resources include salt, pozzolana (a volcanic rock used in cement production), and limestone.[7]

The economy of Cape Verde is service-oriented, with commerce, transport, and public services accounting for more than 70% of GDP. Although nearly 70% of the population lives in rural areas, agriculture and fishing contribute only about 9% of GDP. Light manufacturing accounts for most of the remainder. Fish and shellfish are plentiful, and small quantities are exported. Cape Verde has cold storage and freezing facilities and fish processing plants in Mindelo, Praia, and on Sal. Expatriate Cape Verdeans contribute an amount estimated at about 20% of GDP to the domestic economy through remittances.[7]

Since 1991, the government has pursued market-oriented economic policies, including an open welcome to foreign investors and a far-reaching privatization programme. It established as top development priorities the promotion of a market economy and of the private sector; the development of tourism, light manufacturing industries, and fisheries; and the development of transport, communications, and energy facilities. From 1994 to 2000 about $407 million in foreign investments were made or planned, of which 58% were in tourism, 17% in industry, 4% in infrastructure, and 21% in fisheries and services.[7]

Cape Verde's strategic location at the crossroads of mid-Atlantic air and sea lanes has been enhanced by significant improvements at Mindelo's harbor (Porto Grande) and at Sal's and Praia's international airports. A new international airport was opened in Boa Vista in December 2007. Ship repair facilities at Mindelo were opened in 1983. The major ports are Mindelo and Praia, but all other islands have smaller port facilities. In addition to the international airport on Sal, airports have been built on all of the inhabited islands. All but the airport on Brava enjoy scheduled air service. The archipelago has 3,050 km (1,895 mi) of roads, of which 1,010 km (628 mi) are paved, most using cobblestone.[7]

The country's future economic prospects depend heavily on the maintenance of aid flows, the encouragement of tourism, remittances, outsourcing labor to neighboring African countries, and the momentum of the government's development program.[7]

Tourism is taking off. Large hotels have been built across the country. In particular, on the islands of Boa Vista (Club Hotel Riu Karamboa (750 rooms)), and Sal (Club Hotel Riu Funana/Garopa (1000 rooms)--the largest hotel in all of West Africa). The Cape Verde islands has a relatively low crime rate and beautiful beaches, as well as engaging people. Tourists and leisure seekers from across Europe and elsewhere are flocking to the country.

Cape Verde has significant cooperation with Portugal at every level of the economy, which has led it to link its currency first to the Portuguese escudo and, in 1999, to the euro. On June 23, 2008 Cape Verde became the 153rd member of the WTO.[16]


Local people from Santiago island
Population pyramid, 2005

Around 95 percent of the population is Creole of mixed black African and Portuguese descent. The remainder of the population is mostly black Africans, with a small number of whites. The European men who colonized Cape Verde did not usually bring wives or families with them. As female African slaves were brought to the islands inter-marriages occurred.[11]

More than 85 percent of the population is nominally Roman Catholic,[17] though for a minority of the population Catholicism is syncretized with African influences.[2] The largest Protestant denomination is the Church of the Nazarene; other groups 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 other Pentecostal and evangelical groups.[17] There are small Baha'i communities and a small Muslim community.[17] The number of atheists is estimated at less than 1 percent of the population.[17]

Cape Verde's official language is Portuguese. It is the language of instruction and government. However, the Cape Verdean Creole is used colloquially and is the mother tongue of virtually all Cape Verdeans. Cape Verdean Creole or Kriolu is a dialect continuum of a Portuguese-based creole, which varies from island to island. There is a substantial body of literature in Creole, especially in the Santiago Creole and the São Vicente Creole. Creole has been gaining prestige since the nation's independence from Portugal. However, the differences between the varied forms of the language within the islands have been a major obstacle in the way of standardization of the language. Some people have advocated the development of two standards: a North (Barlavento) standard, centered on the São Vicente Creole, and a South (Sotavento) standard, centered on the Santiago Creole. Manuel Veiga, PhD, a linguist by training, and Minister of Culture of Cape Verde, is the premier proponent of Kriolu's officialization and standardization. On the Demographics of Cape Verde page the demographic statistics site ESA says Cape Verde is now populated with 567,000 in 2010


Cape Verdean diaspora

Today, more Cape Verdeans live abroad than in Cape Verde itself, with significant emigrant Cape Verdean communities in the United States (500,000 Cape Verdeans, with a major concentration on the New England coast from Providence, Rhode Island, to New Bedford, Massachusetts). There are also significant Cape Verde populations in São Tomé and Príncipe, Portugal (80,000), Angola (45,000), Senegal (25,000), the Netherlands (20,000, of which 15,000 are concentrated in Rotterdam), France (25,000), Scandinavia (7,000) and Italy (10,000). There is also a Cape Verdean community in Argentina numbering 8,000.

In the USA, the children and grandchildren of the first immigrant waves became involved in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. This led them to make links with other US black groups. Cape Verdeans moved to places all over the world, from Macau to Haiti to Argentina to northern Europe.[18]


A group playing morna.

Cape Verdean social and cultural patterns are similar to those of rural Portugal and Africa.[11] Football games and church activities are typical sources of social interaction and entertainment.[11] The traditional walk around the praça (town square) to meet friends is practiced regularly in Cape Verde towns.[11] In towns with electricity, television is available on two channels (Cape Verdean and Portuguese).[11]

Cape Verde music incorporates Portuguese, Caribbean, African, and Brazilian influences.[19] Cape Verde's quintessential national music is the morna, a melancholy and lyrical song form typically sung in Cape Verdean Creole. The most popular music genre after morna is the coladeira followed by funaná and batuque music. Amongst the most worldwide known Cape Verdean singers, is the singer Cesaria Evora, whose songs became a hallmark of the country and its culture. There are also well known artist born to Cape Verdean parents who excelled themselves. Amongst these artists are jazz pianist Horace Silver, Duke Ellington’s saxophonist Paul Gonsalves and singer Lura.

Dance forms include the soft dance morna, the extreme sensuality of coladeira including the modernized version called passada (zouk), the Funaná (a sensual mixed Portuguese and African dance), and the Batuque dance.

Cape Verdean literature is one of the richest of Lusophone Africa. Famous poets include Paulino Vieira, Manuel de Novas, Sergio Frusoni, Eugénio Tavares, and B. Léza, and famous authors include Baltasar Lopes da Silva, António Aurélio Gonçalves, Manuel Lopes, Orlanda Amarílis, Henrique Teixeira de Sousa, and Germano Almeida.

The Cape Verde diet is mostly based on fish and staple foods like corn and rice. Vegetables available during most of the year are potatoes, onions, tomatoes, manioc, cabbage, kale, and dried beans. Fruits like banana and papayas are available year-round, while others like mangos and avocados are seasonal.[11] A popular dish served in Cape Verde is Cachupa.

Health, education, and development

The infant mortality rate in Cape Verde is 24 per 1,000 live births according to the world bank. The literacy rate is 83.8%, and 97.9% among Cape Verdean youth. Life expectancy in Cape Verde is 69 years for males and 75 years for females. [20] Cape Verde has been steadily developing[21] since its independence, and besides having been promoted to the group of "medium development" countries in 2007, leaving the Least Developed Countries category (which is only the second time it has happened to a country[22]), is currently the 9th best ranked country in Africa in terms of Human Development Index.

The European Commission's total allocation for the period of 2008–2013 foreseen for Cape Verde to address "poverty reduction, in particular in rural and periurban areas where women are heading the households, as well as good governance" amounts to €54.1 million European Commission.


Primary school education in Cape Verde is mandatory between the ages of 6 and 14 years and free for children ages 6 to 12.[23] In 1997, the gross primary enrollment rate was 148.8 percent.[23] While enrollment rates indicate a level of commitment to education, they do not always reflect children’s participation in school.[23] Textbooks have been made available to 90 percent of school children, and 83 percent of the teachers have attended in-service teacher training.[23] Although most children have access to education, some problems remain.[23] For example, many students and some teachers speak Creole at home and have a poor command of Portuguese (the language of instruction); there is insufficient spending on school materials, lunches, and books; and there is a high repetition rate for certain grades.[23]


Cape Verde national football team represents the nation of Cape Verde. Luis Nani the Manchester United Footballer was born in Praia, Cape Verde, however he plays for Portugal. Also the retired Henrik Larsson's father came from Cape Verde although Henrik played for Sweden.

See also


  1. ^ World Gazetteer Population Figures
  2. ^ a b Background Note: Cape Verde
  3. ^ a b c d "Cape Verde". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2009-10-01. 
  4. ^ "Human Development Report 2009. Human development index trends: Table G". The United Nations. Retrieved 2009-10-10. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Carta regia (royal letter) of 19th September 1462
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Cape Verde background note. U.S. Department of State (July 2008).
  8. ^ Lobban, p. 4.
  9. ^ Percival, Debra, "Cape Verde-EU ‘Special Partnership’ takes shape", "The Courier", Commission of the European Communities publication, May 25, 2008
  10. ^ Cape Verde could seek EU membership this year
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q The Peace Corps Welcomes You to Cape Verde. Peace Corps (April 2006). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  12. ^ a b BBC
  13. ^ Desert
  14. ^ Endemic Bird Areas: Cape Verde Islands
  15. ^ Mitchell-Thomé, Raoul C. "Outline of the geology of the Cape Verde Archipelago" Geologische Rundschau, Volume 61, Issue 3, pp.1087–1109
  16. ^ "Cape Verde to join WTO on 23 July 2008". WTO News. 
  17. ^ a b c d
  18. ^
  19. ^ Manuel, p. 95-97.
  20. ^
  21. ^ Cape Verde HDI Trend from the 2007 Human Development Report country fact sheet
  22. ^ "UN advocate salutes Cape Verde’s graduation from category of poorest States", UN News Centre, 14 June 2007.
  23. ^ a b c d e f "Cape Verde". Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor (2001). Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor (2002). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.

External links

General information

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CAPE VERDE ISLANDS (Ilhas do Cabo Verde), an archipelago belonging to Portugal; off the West African coast, between 17° 13' and 14° 47' N. and 40' and W. Pop. (1905) about 138,620; area, 1475 sq. m. The archipelago consists of ten islands: - Santo Antao (commonly miswritten St Antonio), Sao Vicente, Santa Luzia, Sao Nicolao, Sal, Boa Vista, Maio, Sao Thiago (the St Jago of the English), Fogo, and Brava, besides four uninhabited islets. It forms a sort of broken crescent, with the concavity towards the west. The last four islands constitute the leeward (Sotavento) group and the other six the windward (Barlavento). The distance between the coast of Africa and the nearest island (Boa Vista) is about 300 m. The islands derive their name, frequently but erroneously written "Cape Verd," or "Cape de Verd" Islands, from the African promontory off which they lie, known as Cape Verde, or the Green Cape. The entire archipelago is of volcanic origin, and on the island of Fogo there is an active volcano. No serious eruption has taken place since 1680, and the craters from which the streams of basalt issued have lost their outline.

0 5 ro 20304 o S o 60, u p 'G Boa Vista Santo Antao w d r Santa Vicente Vic e nte r Sao Nicolao R azo° or t Cape p Verde a a Islands q 5 2 e Sao r o u p M s s aop 'Sal U Climate. - The atmosphere of the islands is generally hazy, especially in the direction of Africa. With occasional exceptions during summer and autumn, the north-east trade is the prevailing wind, blowing most strongly from November to May. The rainy season is during August, September and October, when there is thunder and a light variable wind from south-east or south-west. The Harmattan, a very dry east wind from the African continent, occasionally makes itself felt. The heat of summer is high, the thermometer ranging from 80 to 90° Fahr. near the sea. The unhealthy season is the period during and following the rains, when vegetation springs up with surprising rapidity, and there is much stagnant water, poisoning the air on the lower grounds. Remittent fevers are then common. The people of all the islands are also subject in May to an endemic of a bilious nature called locally levadias, but the cases rarely assume a dangerous form, and recovery is usually attained in three or four days without medical aid. On some of the islands rain has occasionally not fallen for three years. The immediate consequence is a failure of the crops, and this is followed by the death of great numbers from starvation, or the epidemics which usually break out afterwards.

Table of contents


Owing largely to the widespread destruction of timber for fuel, and to the frequency of drought, the flora of the islands is poor when compared with that of the Canaries, the Azores or Madeira. It is markedly tropical in character; and although some seventy wild-flowers, grasses, ferns, &c., are peculiar to the archipelago, the majority of plants are those found on the neighbouring African littoral. Systematic afforestation has not been attempted, but the Portuguese have introduced a few trees, such as the baobab, eucalyptus and dragon-tree, besides many plants of economic value. Coffee-growing, an industry dating from 1790, is the chief resource of the people of Santo Antao, Fogo and Sao Thiago; maize, millet, sugar-cane, manioc, excellent oranges, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and, to a less extent, tobacco and cotton are produced. On most of the islands coco-nut and date palms, tamarinds and bananas may be seen; orchil is gathered; and indigo and castor-oil are produced. Of considerable importance is the physic-nut (Jatropha curcas), which is exported.


Quails are found in all the islands; rabbits in Boa Vista, Sao Thiago and Fogo; wild boars in Sao Thiago. Both black and grey rats are common. Goats, horses and asses are reared, and goatskins are exported. The neighbouring sea abounds with fish, and coral fisheries are carried on by a colony of Neapolitans in Sao Thiago. Turtles come from the African coast to lay their eggs on the sandy shores. The Ilheu Branco, or White Islet, between Sao Nicolao and Santa Luzia, is remarkable as containing a variety of puffin unknown elsewhere, and a species of large lizard (Macroscinctus coctei) which feeds on plants.


The first settlers on the islands imported negro slaves from the African coast. Slavery continued in full force until 1854, when the Portuguese government freed the public slaves, and ameliorated the conditions of private ownership. In 1857 arrangements were made for the gradual abolition of slavery, and by 1876 the last slave had been liberated. The transportation of convicts from Portugal, a much-dreaded punishment, was continued until the closing years of the 19th century. It was the coexistence of these two forms of servitude, even more than the climate, which prevented any large influx of Portuguese colonists. Hence the blacks and mulattoes far outnumber the white inhabitants. They are, as a rule, taller than the Portuguese, and are of fine physique, with regular features but woolly hair. Slavery and the enervating climate have left their mark on the habits of the people, whose indolence and fatalism are perhaps their most obvious qualities. Their language is a bastard Portuguese, known as the lingua creoula. Their religion is Roman Catholicism, combined with a number of pagan beliefs and rites, which are fostered by the curandeiros or medicine men. These superstitions tend to disappear gradually before the advance of education, which has progressed considerably since 1867, when the first school, a lyceum, was opened in Ribeira Brava, the capital of Sao Nicolao. On all the inhabited islands, except Santa Luzia, there are churches and primary schools, conducted by the government or the priests. The children of the wealthier classes are sent to Lisbon for their education.


The archipelago forms one of the foreign provinces of Portugal, and is under the command of a governorin-chief appointed by the crown. There are two principal judges, one for the windward and another for the leeward group, the former with his residence at Sao Nicolao, and the latter at Praia; and each island has a military commandant, a few soldiers, and a number of salaried officials, such as police, magistrates and custom-house directors. There is also an ecclesiastical establishment, with a bishop, dean and canons.


The principal industries, apart from agriculture, are the manufacture of sugar, spirits, salt, cottons and straw hats and fish-curing. The average yearly value of the exports is about £60,000; that of the imports (including 200,000 for coal), about £350,000. The most important of the exports are coffee, physic-nuts, millet, sugar, spirits, salt, live animals, skins and fish. This trade is principally carried on with Lisbon and the Portuguese possessions on the west coast of Africa, and with passing vessels. The imports consist principally of coal, textiles, food-stuffs, wine, metals, tobacco, machinery, pottery and vegetables. Over 3000 vessels, with a total tonnage exceeding 3,500,000, annually enter the ports of the archipelago; the majority call at Mindello, on Sao Vicente, for coal, and do not receive or discharge any large quantities of cargo.

Santo Anteio (pop. 25,000), at the extreme north-west of the archipelago, has an area of 265 sq. m. Its surface is very rugged and mountainous, abounding in volcanic craters, of which the chief is the Topoda Coroa (7300 ft.), also known as the Sugar-loaf. Mineral springs exist in many places. The island is the most picturesque, the healthiest, and, on its north-western slope, the best watered and most fertile of the archipelago. The south-eastern slope, shut out by lofty mountains from the fertilizing moisture of the trade-winds, has an entirely different appearance, black rocks, white pumice and red clay being its most characteristic features. Santo Antao produces large quantities of excellent coffee, besides sugar and fruit. It has several small ports, of which the chief are the sheltered and spacious Tarrafal Bay, on the south-west coast, and the more frequented Ponta do Sol, on the north-east, 8 m. from the capital, Ribeira Grande, a town of 4500 inhabitants. Cinchona is cultivated in the neighbourhood. In 1780 the slaves on Santo Antao were declared free, but this decree was not carried out. About the same time many white settlers, chiefly from the Canaries, entered the island, and introduced the cultivation of wheat.

Sao Vicente, or St Vincent (8000), lies near Santo Antao, on the south-east, and has an area of 75 sq. m. Its highest point is Monte Verde (2400 ft.). The whole island is as arid and sterile as the south-eastern half of Santo Antao, and for the same reason. It was practically uninhabited until 1795; in 1829 its population numbered about too. Its harbour, an extinct crater on the north coast, with an entrance eroded by the sea, affords complete shelter from every wind. An English speculator founded a coaling station here in 1851, and the town of Mindello, also known as Porto Grande or St Vincent, grew up rapidly, and became the commercial centre of the archipelago. Most of the business is in English hands, and ninetenths of the inhabitants understand English. Foodstuffs, wood and water are imported from Santo Antao, and the water is stored in a large reservoir at Mindello. Sao Vicente has a station for the submarine cable from Lisbon to Pernambuco in Brazil.

Santa Luzia, about 5 m. south-east, has an area of 18 sq. m., and forms a single estate, occupied only by the servants or the family of the proprietor. Its highest point is 885 ft. above sea-level. On the south-west it has a good harbour, visited by whaling and fishing boats. Much orchil was formerly gathered, and there is good pasturage for the numerous herds of cattle. A little to the south are the uninhabited islets of Branco and Razo.

Sao Nicolao, or Nicolau (12,000), a long, narrow, crescent-shaped island with an area of 126 sq. m., lies farther east, near the middle of the archipelago. Its climate is not very healthy. Maize, kidneybeans, manioc, sugar-cane and vines are cultivated; and in ordinary years grain is exported to the other islands. The interior is mountainous, and culminates in two peaks which can be seen for many leagues; one has the shape of a sugar-loaf, and is near the middle of the island; the other, Monte Gordo, is near the west end, and has a height of 4280 ft. All the other islands of the group can be seen from Sao Nicolao in clear weather. Vessels frequently enter PreguiCa, or Freshwater Bay, near the south-east extremity of the island, for water and fresh provisions; and the custom-house is here. The island was one of the first colonized; in 1774 its inhabitants numbered 13,500, but famine subsequently caused a great decrease. The first capital, Lapa, at the end of a promontory on the south, was abandoned during the period of Spanish ascendancy over Portugal (1580-1640) in favour of Ribeira Brava (4000), on the north coast, a town which now has a considerable trade.

Sal (750), in the north-east of the archipelago, has an area of 75 sq. m. It was originally named Lana or Lhana (" plain"), from the flatness of the greater part of its surface. It derives its modern name from a natural salt-spring, but most of the salt produced here is now obtained from artificial salt-pans. Towards the close of the 17th century it was inhabited only by a few shepherds, and by slaves employed in the salt-works. In 1705 it was entirely abandoned, owing to drought and consequent famine; and only in 1808 was the manufacture of salt resumed. A railway, the first built in Portuguese territory, was opened in 1835. The hostile Brazilian tariffs of 1889 for a time nearly destroyed the salt trade. Whales, turtles and fish are abundant, and dairy-farming is a prosperous industry. There are many small harbours, which render every part of the island easily accessible.

Boa Vista (2600), the most easterly island of the archipelago, has an area of 235 sq. m. It was named Sao Christovao by its discoverers in the 15th century. Its modern name, meaning "fair view," is singularly inappropriate, for with the exception of a few coco-nut trees there is no wood, and in the dry season the island seems nothing but an arid waste. The little vegetation that then exists is in the bottom of ravines, where corn, beans and cotton are cultivated. The springs of good water are few. The coast is indented by numerous shallow bays, the largest of which is the harbour of the capital, Porto Sal-Rei, on the western side (pop. about loon). A chain of heights, flanked by inferior ranges, traverses the middle of Boa Vista, culminating in Monte Gallego (1250 ft.), towards the east. In the north-western angle of the island there is a low tract of loose sand, which is inundated with water during the rainy season; and here are some extensive salt-pans, where the sea-water is evaporated by the heat of the sun. Salt and orchil are exported. A good deal of fish is taken on the coast and supplies the impoverished islanders with much of their food.

Maio (moo) has an area of 70 sq. m., and resembles Sal and Boa Vista in climate and configuration, although it belongs to the Sotavento group. Its best harbour is that of Nossa Senhora da Luz, on the south-west coast, and is commonly known as Porto Inglez or English Road, from the fact that it was occupied until the end of the 18th century by the British, who based their claim on the marriage-treaty between Charles II. and Catherine of Braganza (1662). The island is a barren, treeless waste, surrounded by rocks. Its inhabitants, who live chiefly by the manufacture of salt, by cattle-farming and by fishing, are compelled to import most of their provisions from Sao Thiago, with which, for purposes of local administration, Maio is included.

Sao Thiago (63,000) is the most populous and the largest of the Cape Verde Islands, having an area of 350 sq. m. It is also one of the most unhealthy, except among the mountains over 2000 ft. high. The interior is a mass of volcanic heights, formed of basalt covered with chalk and clay, and culminating in the central Pico da Antonia (45 00 ft.), a sharply pointed cone. There are numerous ravines, furrowed by perennial streams, and in these ravines are grown large quantities of coffee, oranges, sugar-cane and physic-nuts, besides a variety of tropical fruits and cereals. Spirits are distilled from sugar-cane, and coarse sugar is manufactured. The first capital of the islands was Ribeira Grande, to-day called Cidade Velha or the Old City, a picturesque town with a cathedral and ruined fort. It was built in the 15th century on the south coast, was made an episcopal see in 1532, and became capital of the archipelago in 1592. In 1712 it was sacked by a French force, but despite its poverty and unhealthy situation it continued to be the capital until 1770, when its place was taken by Praia on the south-east. Praia (often written Praya) has a fine harbour, a population of 21,000 and a considerable trade. It contains the palace of the governor-general, a small natural history museum, a meteorological observatory and an important station for the cables between South America, Europe and West Africa. It occupies a basalt plateau, overlooking the bay (Porto da Praia), and has an attractive appearance, with its numerous coco-nut trees and the peak of Antonia rising in the background above successive steps of tableland. Its unhealthiness has been mitigated by the partial drainage of a marsh lying to the east.

Fogo (17,600) is a mass of volcanic rock, almost circular in shape and measuring about 190 sq. m. In the centre a still active volcano, the Pico do Cano, rises to a height of about 10,000 ft. Its crater, which stands within an older crater, measures 3 m. in circumference and is visible at sea for nearly loo in. It emits smoke and ashes at intervals; and in 1680, 1785, 1 799, 1816, 1846, 1852 and 1857 it was in eruption. After the first and most serious of these outbreaks, the island, which had previously been called Sao Felippe, was renamed Fogo, i.e. " Fire." The ascent of the mountain was first made in 1819 by two British naval officers, named Vidal and Mudge. The island is divided, like Santo Antao, into a fertile and a sterile zone. Its northern half produces fine coffee, beans, maize and sugar-cane; the southern half is little better than a desert, with oases of cultivated land near its few springs. Sao Felippe or Nossa Senhora da Luz (3000), on the west coast, is the capital. The islanders claim to be the aristocracy of the archipelago, and trace their descent from the original Portuguese settlers. The majority, however, are negroes or mulattoes. Drought and famine, followed by severe epidemics, have been especially frequent here, notably in the years 1887-1889. Brava (9013), the most southerly of the islands, has an area of 23 so. m. Though mountainous, and in some parts sterile, it is very closely cultivated, and, unlike the other islands, is .divided into a multitude of small holdings. The desire to own land is almost universal, and as the population numbers upwards of 380 per sq. m., and the system of tenure gives rise to many disputes, the peasantry are almost incessantly engaged in litigation. The women, who are locally celebrated for their beauty, far outnumber the men, who emigrate at an early age to America. These emigrants usually return richer and better educated than the peasantry of the neighbouring islands. To the north of Biava lie a group of reefs among which two islets (Ilheus Seccos or Ilheus do Rombo) are conspicuous. These are usually known as the Ilheu de Dentro (Inner Islet) and the Ilheu de Fora (Outer Islet). The first is used as a shelter for whaling and fishing vessels, and as pasturage for cattle; the second has supplied much guano for export.


The earliest known discovery of the islands was made in 1456 by the Venetian captain Alvise Cadamosto, who had entered the service of Prince Henry the Navigator. The archipelago was granted by King Alphonso V. of Portugal to his brother, Prince Ferdinand, whose agents completed the work of discovery. Ferdinand was an absolute monarch, exercising a commercial monopoly. In 1461 he sent an expedition to recruit slaves on the coast of Guinea and thus to people the islands, which were almost certainly uninhabited at the time. On his death in 1470 his privileges reverted to the crown, and were bestowed by John II. on Prince Emanuel, by whose accession to the throne in 1495 the archipelago finally became part of the royal dominions. Its population and importance rapidly increased; its first bishop was consecrated in 1532, its first governor-general appointed about the end of the century. It was enriched by the frequent visits of Portuguese fleets, on their return to Europe laden with treasure from the East, and by the presence of immigrants from Madeira, who introduced better agricultural methods and several new industries, such as dyeing and distillation of spirits. The failure to maintain an equal rate of progress in the 18th and 19th centuries was due partly to drought, famine and disease - in particular, to the famines of 1730-1733 and 1831-1833 - and partly to gross misgovernment by the Portuguese officials.

The best general account of the islands is given in vols. xxiii. and xxvii. of the Boletim of the Lisbon Geographical Society (1905 and 1908), and in Madeira, Cabo Verde, e Guine, by J. A. Martins (Lisbon, 1891). Official statistics are published in Lisbon at irregular intervals. See also fiber die Capverden (Leipzig, 1884) and Die Vulcane der Capverden (Graz, 1882), both by C. Dolter. A useful map, entitled Ocean Atlantico Norte, Archipelago do Cabo Verde, was issued in 1900 by the Commissao de Cartographia, Lisbon.

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