Facts & figures
Full name: Republic of Cabo Verde
Population: 505,000 (UN, 2012)
Area: 4,033 sq km (1,557 sq miles)
Major languages: Portuguese, Crioulo (a mixture of archaic Portuguese and African words)
Major religions: Christianity
Life expectancy: 71 years (men), 78 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 Cape Verdean escudo = 100 centavos
Main exports: Shoes, clothes, fish, bananas, hides, pozzolana (volcanic rock, used to make cement)
GNI per capita: US $3,540 (World Bank, 2011)
Internet domain: .cv
International dialling code: +238
Jorge Carlos Fonseca won presidential elections with a decisive second-round victory in August 2011, beating the ruling party candidate.
All visitors entering Cape Verde require a visa (cost: 40 euros) and a passport that is valid for at least another 6 months after the travel date. As a European or British citizen, you can obtain a visa at the respective embassy or consulate in your country in advance or upon arrival on Sal, Boa Vista, São Vicente and Santiago international airports (the latter is only valid for four weeks). The visa allows you to stay for 90 days. You must enter the country within 180 days after the visa has been issued. Application forms can be submitted via the Internet, fax or mail and are available on the website of the Embassy of Cape Verde.
- Best period:
The weather is beautiful all year round, the temperature usually about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Cape Verde’s geographical position, at the northern limit of the tropical rain belt, leaves the country with very little rainfall. Although it’s highly unlikely, if rainfall is to occur, it’s usually between August and September. There is no “perfect” time to visit Cape Verde because the weather is fantastic throughout the year.
Cape Verde is quite safe, and crime is relatively low. When traveling by ferry, be aware of sea conditions before taking off. For further information, visit the U.S. Department of State’s travel site on Cape Verde.
Uninhabited on their discovery in 1456, the Cape Verde islands became part of the Portuguese empire in 1495. A majority of today's inhabitants are of mixed Portuguese and African ancestry. Positioned on the great trade routes between Africa, Europe, and the New World, the islands became a prosperous center for the slave trade but suffered economic decline after the slave trade was abolished in 1876. In the 20th century, Cape Verde served as a shipping port. In 1951, Cape Verde's status changed from a Portuguese colony to an overseas province, and in 1961 the inhabitants became full Portuguese citizens. An independence movement led by the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau (another former Portuguese colony) and Cape Verde (PAIGC) was founded in 1956. Following the 1974 coup in Portugal, after which Portugal began abandoning its colonial empire, the islands became independent (July 5, 1975).
On Jan. 13, 1991, the first multiparty elections since independence resulted in the ruling African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV) losing its majority to the Movement for Democracy Party (MPD). The MPD candidate, Antonio Monteiro, won the subsequent presidential election, and was easily reelected in 1996. In 2001, Pedro Pires became president.
Cape Verde is known internationally for morna, a form of folk music usually sung in the Cape Verdean Creole, accompanied by clarinet, violin, guitar and cavaquinho. The islands also boast Funaná, Coladeira, Batuque and Cabo love music.
Among the literary forms of the Cape Verde Islands, poetry plays a significant role. This may be because the censorship of the Portuguese rulers was very strict and allegoric images represented the only feasible way for expressing the true feelings of the artist. Names such as Pedro Cardoso and Eugénio Tavares, representatives of nativism, were the fathers of the literary movement on the islands. In the 1940s, the intellectual group (Capverdianidade) around Jorge Barbosa, Baltasar Lopez da Silva and Manuel Lopez with the Claridade magazine attracted attention. This can probably be called the origin of the classic Cape Verde literature. The 1950s saw the development of the Africanidade movement, which was distinguished by a much more direct political discourse that led to some of its members – including Ovídio Martins – being punished with torture as a result. Amilcar Cabral (cf. History) also supported the intellectual contents of this movement.
- Film industry:
The first known footage showing Cape Verdean Whalers dates back to 1916. Down to the Sea in Ships, a 1921 film, starring Clara Bow, shows Cape Verdean whalers at work. In 1937 some footage is known shot by a visiting American, Marty Rose. But before 1975, the year of independence no recorded cinematic history is known from Cape Verdean local filmmakers. In l986 Claire Andrade-Watkins produced The Spirit of Cape Verde, a half-hour documentary showing the Cape verdean community in the USA. The earliest mentioning of local participation in feature film production is 1987 when Antonio Faria filmed Os Flagelados do Vento Leste (1988), based on the famous novel by Manuel Lopes. The film was featured at the Figueira de Foz Internatonal Film Festival. In 1997 Ilheu de Contenda (1995) by Leao Lopes was featured at the 1997 Milan Film Festival. In 1999 the first two films from Cape Verde were released in the US, O Testamento Do Senhor Napumoceno by Francisco Manso (1997) and Fintar O Destino by Fernando Vendrell from the same year. The production of O Testamento do Senhor Napumoceno reflects the complex cultural heritage of Cape Verde. The director, Francisco Manso, is Portuguese; the script is based on a novel by Cape Verdean Germano Almeida; the actors are mostly Brazilian including Nelson Xavier, Maria Ceica, Chico Diaz and Zezé Motta. The soundtrack features Cape Verdean musicians Tito Paris and Césaria Evora. This is the first truly Pan-Lusophonic film production and the first to be commercially released in North America. The film received acclaim at the Sao Paulo film festival. In 1998 the first (and, up till now, last) Cape Verdean Film Festival was organized by Ronald Barboza in New bedford, USA.
- Famous places:
The volcanic Island of Fogo is another essential experience, climb the Volcano, sample some wine and coffee and be amazed by the incredible landscapes.
Cidade Velha on the Island of Santiago is a historical treasure and transports you back to the time of slavery and colonialism in Africa.
- Architecture history
Praia, the capital of Cape Verde, is a rapidly growing urban center. Its growth has been unimpeded by zoning laws or organization which has allowed it to spread out into nearby land in a haphazard way. Mindelo, the second largest city with a population of 47,000, is located on the northern island of São Vicente and provides a marked contrast as a clean, orderly city with a European feel. Many of the islands combine old colonial architecture with the new cinderblock structures that are sprouting up to house the burgeoning population. The traditional houses that dot the countryside are stone structures with thatched or tiled roofs.