Cape Verde Map
Cabo Verde History
Cabo Verde (formerly Cape Verde) was uninhabited when the first Europeans arrived on its shores. The biggest island of Santiago was discovered by Italian and Portuguese navigators in 1456. But the first permanent settlers arrived in 1462, when Portugal founded a town called the Ribeira Grande, which is known today as Cidade Velha, located on the southernmost part of the island. The Portuguese eventually named the entire islands “Cabo Verde,” after the nearest Senegal coastline town called Cap Vert.
During the 16th century, the islands became an important transatlantic stop in the growing slave trade in the New World. Because of this, Cabo Verde experienced an era of prosperity. The capital city, which is Praia, was established in 1770.
When slavery dwindled, Cabo Verde went through a time of crisis and its prosperity vanished. However, its strategic location off the coast of West Africa in the Atlantic meant that it was in a good position to serve as an ideal location for re-supplying ships. The city of Mindelo became an important commercial center in the 19th century due to its harbors.
In 1951, Portugal changed the country’s status from colony to an overseas province. A few years later in 1956, a group called the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cabo Verde was organized by local Amilcar Cabral, and demanded economic, social, and political conditions improvements.
The independence movement and the subsequent conflicts resulted to Cabo Verde’s independence from Portugal on July 5, 1975.
Cabo Verde is located in the central Atlantic Ocean. Found 570 km off the coast of Western Africa, Cabo Verde is a group of 10 volcanic islands and 8 islets. The islands are grouped into two divisions: the Barlavento Islands and the Sotavento Islands, with the largest being Santiago.
Cabo Verde is a semi-presidential representative democratic republic. Ranked as #26 in the Democracy Index 2012, Cabo Verde is one of the most democratic nations in the world.
The President is elected into office by a popular vote, where he serves a 5-year term, and holds the position of Head of State. Nominated by the National Assembly, the Prime Minister is then appointed by the President. The Prime Minister is Head of Government, and takes on the responsibility of proposing other ministers and secretaries of the state.
The Judicial branch is delegated to the regional courts and the Supreme Court of Justice.
In 2013, a recorded 500,000 tourists visited the islands. Most of the tourists go to Cabo Verde for the beaches, the diving, hiking, and its vast range of water activities.
Santo Antao is the most popular tourist destination, which is located on the westernmost part of the islands. It’s a favorite among tourists because of the Cova – a valley found in the crater of an extinct volcano; the lighthouse called Farol de Boi built in 1886 but is now abandoned; and the charming towns with small shops and cafes.
Mindelo is the most preferred island for tourists who want to enjoy a bustling nightlife. It has a large number of bars and clubs, but by day, it’s the cultural center of the islands. Cobble-stone streets and candy-colored colonial buildings bring an old town vibe to the island.
Boa Vista is found on the easternmost part of Cabo Verde. A home of the country’s top resorts, it is most famous for the migratory marine turtles that lay eggs on its beaches.
Maio, found south to Boa Vista, offers a number of secluded beaches for tourists who are looking for tranquility and privacy in their vacation.
And lastly, the island of Santiago, which is the biggest of all the 10 islands. The capital is found in this island, which is home to more than half of the country’s population. On the southern part of Santiago is the Cidade Velha, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the oldest settlement in the country. It is the center of the Creole culture, and boasts of being a historic and charming town with its royal fortress, two towering churches, and a town square built in the 16th century.
The education system in Cabo Verde is patterned from the system of Portugal. However, changes eventually developed over the years, with the local universities adopting the American education system offering 4-year Bachelor degrees over the 5-year programs of the Portuguese.
Cabo Verde has the 2nd best educational system in Africa, only coming next to South Africa. Primary education is free and mandatory. In 2011, enrollment in this school level was at 85%. About 25% of all Cabo Verde citizens have college degrees.
- The official language of Cabo Verde is Portuguese.
- The standard of living in the country is higher than most African nations.
- 71% of the population are Creole, 28% African, and 1% European.
- The Cabo Verde culture can be characterized as lively but relaxed, due to the unique infusion of Portuguese and African cultures.