As one of countries starting with C, Cape Verde, also known as the Cape Verde Islands or Cabo Verde, is located off the west coast of West Africa, about 400 to 800 kilometers from the African mainland. In the past, the archipelago was known as “Ilhas de Cabo Verde” which means as much as islands of the Green Cape. Cape Verde is today a democratic republic with a separation between the legislative, executive and judiciary. This makes it one of the most democratic and politically stable countries in western Africa.
Not much is known about the early history of the Cape Verde Islands. It is believed that the Phoenicians were the first to set foot here. We come across the first real references to the archipelago just before our era with the Romans. However, it would not be until the fifteenth century before permanent settlement on the islands would occur. It was the Portuguese who, led by Henry the Navigator, rediscovered the islands for the first time in centuries. In 1462 the first settlement, today’s Cidade Velha, was founded. Not long after, the Cape Verde Islands became an important trading post for ships en route to the newly discovered America. In addition, it became one of the most important slave trading posts in Africa. From the interior of Africa the slaves were brought to Cape Verde after which they were sold and transported to plantations in America. With the abolition of the slave trade, Cape Verde had lost its main source of income and the country fell into poverty.
The Cape Verde Islands still have a fragile economy that is mainly dependent on tourism. In 1975 the country declared its independence from Portugal and entered into a relationship with Guinea-Bissau. This was lifted a few years later and Cape Verde has been an independent country ever since.
The Cape Verdeans are known for being very hospitable, the inhabitants are generally friendly and open. Unlike many other West African countries, the people of Cape Verde are not pushy or annoying. If you come across pushy or stubborn sellers, they will in most cases not be from Cape Verde.
The Dutch now know how to find their way to Cape Verde well. The combination of a short flight distance with almost guaranteed pleasant weather makes Cape Verde an ideal place to enjoy the sun, sea, beach and especially culture for a week or longer. You can mainly book a cheap Cape Verde holiday for the months of November and the beginning of the year, with the exception of the times when school holidays are going on. During the Dutch school holidays it is more difficult to find a nice holiday deal for Cape Verde.
There are really no big and well-known sights on the Cape Verde islands. The exception to this is of course Cidade Velha, which has been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List by UNESCO. Most tourists who come to the Cape Verde Islands mainly come here to enjoy the beauty that the country has to offer. The beautiful sandy beaches on Maio, Sal and Boa Vista, the special nature on Fogo and Santo Antão and the liveliness in the city of Praia are good examples of this. The Capital Praia is known for its vibrant nightlife and special architecture. The culture of Cape Verde was partly determined by the centuries-long domination of Portugal. As a result, some of the typical Portuguese elements such as the Fado can be found on the Cape Verde islands. The Fado has its own variant here called the Morna. This is a fado mixed with African influences and the Argentine Tango.
Because the majority of Cape Verdeans are Catholic, Carnival is also quite exuberant on the islands. Sometimes it is also referred to as Mardi Gras. During the carnival, colorful parades are held accompanied by exotic dances and rhythmic music.
Some of the most popular sights can be found in the seas surrounding Cape Verde. In the waters around the islands, for example, there are seventeen species of dolphins and various types of whales. During the mating season, it is even possible to see whales swimming from land. There are also different species of turtles that lay their eggs on the beaches of Maio, Sal and Boa Vista. The Cape Verde Islands are a popular place for snorkeling and diving.
Cape Verde has one entry on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This is the historic center of Cidade Velha, a place formerly known as Ribeira Grande on the island of Santiago. Cidade Velha is the oldest permanent settlement in Cape Verde. The old Portuguese city can be found about 15 kilometers away from the capital Praia. The old street pattern from the sixteenth century can still be recognized in Cidade Velha. The most beautiful sights in this town are the remains of an old cathedral, the ruins of the São Filipe fortress and a historic square with a marble column.
The climate of Cape Verde is determined by the Northeast trade winds for most of the year. This warm dry wind takes the heat and dry air from the Sahara and ensures the pleasant climate on the islands. It also ensures that there is little rainfall on the islands. The wind is strongest in the period between December and April.
However, there is still just a little too much rain in Cape Verde to classify the entire country as a desert climate. As a result, Cape Verde has a steppe climate. Although a number of the islands of Maio, Sal and Boa Vista do qualify for the desert climate.
The precipitation is very irregular in Cape Verde. If it rains there, it will almost always be in the months of July to November, but it can also happen that it does not rain for several years. This in turn causes food shortages and famine in Cape Verde.
Fogo and Santo Antão are the islands with the highest chance of precipitation.
The temperature on the Cape Verde islands is on average between 22 and 27 degrees Celsius all year round. Real outliers in temperature do not or hardly occur on most islands. However, on the mountainous islands the mercury can drop to about ten degrees above freezing and the maximum temperature on the sand islands is about 40 degrees Celsius.
In recent years Cape Verde has become one of the most popular winter sun destinations. This is mainly due to the excellent climate, but also to the relatively short flight time.
Cape Verde consists of nine large islands and a number of small ones. These nine islands can be divided into two groups; the Windward and Leeward Islands. The Windward Islands include Santo Antão, São Vicente, São Nicolau, Santa Luzia, Sal, Boa Vista, Branco, and Raso. The islands of Brava, Fogo, São Tiago, Maio, Rei and Rombo belong to the Leeward Islands.
The largest city in Cape Verde is the capital Praia. Other large and well-known places on the archipelago are Santa Maria, Sal Rei, Mindelo, Ribeira Grande, São Filipe, Porto Novo, Ribeira Brava, Espargos, Cidade Velha and Vila do Maio.
The highest point of Cape Verde can be found on the island of Fogo. Mount Pico de Fogo rises 2,829 meters above sea level. Also on the island of Santo Antõa there are peaks that rise above 2,000 meters. These are also the islands where the most vegetation can be found. On average, this is where the most precipitation falls, making agriculture possible. The islands of Maio, Sal and Boa Vista are known to be very dry and consist for the most part of sandy plains and salt.
Because there is little rainfall in Cape Verde during the year, there are virtually no permanent rivers in the country. However, some temporary rivers are formed during the rainy season.
The travel advice for Cape Verde is; no particular security risks. There are some security risks, but these are mainly related to crime in the larger cities of Cape Verde. This is no worse or more than in other major cities in the world. So be on your guard, don’t wear eye-catching jewelry and don’t flaunt expensive equipment.
Natural disasters occur with some regularity in Cape Verde. Think of volcanic eruptions and hurricanes. The island of Fogo consists of a naturally still active volcano. It is rare that a hurricane actually makes landfall in Cape Verde. The last one raged over the country in 2014, but it was already 122 years ago that a hurricane was seen in Cape Verde.
The roads in Cape Verde are generally moderate to bad, so driving yourself is not recommended. If you still want to rent a car, then you would do well to rent a 4×4.
To enter Cape Verde, all you need is a Dutch passport that is valid for at least another six months and you must be in possession of a visa. In many cases, this visa is arranged by the travel organization. However, if you are going to Cape Verde on your own, you can apply for a visa at the embassy in Belgium or the consulate in Rotterdam. In exceptional cases it is also possible to apply for a visa at the airport in Cape Verde. However, this visa is only valid for two weeks and is a lot more expensive than a normal visa.
|Phone (country code)||236|
|Language(s) (colloquial)||Portuguese is the official language of the country, but most residents speak Crioulo among themselves. In the more touristy places you can also speak French and English.|
|Time difference summer||in Cape Verde it is 3 hours earlier than in the Netherlands|
|Time difference winter||in Cape Verde it is 2 hours earlier than in the Netherlands|
|Daylight Saving Time Control||no|