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photo by F Mira

Cape Verde (Portuguese: Cabo Verde) is a country in West Africa. It comprises a group of islands of the Atlantic Ocean, west of Senegal. It is part of the region of Islands collectively known as Macaronesia.


Cape Verde (pop. 480,000) is located 500 km from the west coast of Africa. The once uninhabited islands were discovered and colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th century; they subsequently became a trading center for African slaves and later an important coaling and re-supply stop for whaling and transatlantic shipping. Independence was achieved in 1975.

Most Cape Verdeans have both African and Portuguese antecedents.


Cape Verde’s climate is temperate, with a warm, dry summer. Precipitation is meager and very erratic.


The national holiday is the 5th of July, Independence Day.


Cape Verde’s climate is temperate, with a warm, dry summer. Precipitation is meager and very erratic.


Cape Verde is formed by 10 main islands and about 8 islets. The main islands are (clockwise from northwest):

  • Brava - A small island only accessible by boat and is a great place to get away from it all.
  • Santo Antão - Great hiking.
  • São Vicente - With the cultural capital of Mindelo.
  • Santa Luzia - Santa Luzia is uninhabited but can be visited as a day trip from São Vincente.
  • São Nicolau -
  • Sal - Has great beaches, water sports and resorts aplenty. But little else.
  • Boa Vista - Even nicer beaches.
  • Maio -
  • Santiago Island - The first island settled in Cape Verde. It holds the current capital Praia, the original capital Cidade Velha, and the bulk of the nation's population.
  • Fogo - A spectacular volcano island which erupted as recently as 1995.


  • Praia – the capital, on Santiago Island

  • Mindelo – port city on São Vicente, probably the country's liveliest

  • Cidade Velha (Ribeira Grande) – A historic town on Santiago

  • Espargos is the capital of Sal where the airport is and Santa Maria is the main tourist area at the south of the island

Other destinations

  • The Island of Fogo volcano - The country's highest point (2,829 m)

Getting there


If you are arriving from a country with a Cape Verde embassy, you will be required to purchase a Visa in advance. Otherwise a visa can be purchased on arrival.

The Cape Verde Bureau (Cape Verde Consul) in Liverpool, England provides travel visas for travellers from the UK and Ireland.

Cape Verde has an embassy in Brussels, Belgium.

Cape Verde has an embassy in Geneva, Switzerland.

Cape Verde has a consulate in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Cape Verde has an embassy in Washington, D.C., USA

Cape Verde has a consulate in Moscow, Russia.

By plane

Cape Verde has international airports on the islands of Sal, Santiago, Boa Vista. The airport on São Vicente will accept international flights in 2009. Connections to Europe, Africa and the Americas.

Not all the connections are visible to travel booking websites, it is usually worth checking with a travel agent.

From Europe

There are regular flights from Amsterdam, Lisbon (daily), Madrid, Milan, Munich and Oporto operated by TACV .

TAP Portugal fly from Lisbon.

You can fly direct to Santa Maria on Sal from London Gatwick and Manchester on Astraeus and also with Thomson Holidays.

From the Americas

There are regular flights from Boston (weekly), Fortaleza (Brazil) (weekly).

Delta Air Lines will link Atlanta and Sal directly beginning June, 2009. They also will link Sal with Monrovia, Liberia. Both flights will operate once a week, and will offer connections to all major South American, Latin American, North American, and Caribbean cities.

From Africa

Cape Verde is also serviced by Air Senegal (from Dakar).

By boat

There are only infrequent, expensive connections to the mainland.

Traveling around

Timetables in Cape Verde are not to be taken too seriously - don't be too surprised if that boat departs ahead of schedule or if that flight suddenly gets postponed until tomorrow. This is important to consider if you decide to do some island-hopping. Due to weather and other conditions flights may be delayed or canceled. Carry your toothbrush with you and build in some buffer time to your planning especially if you need to meet an international connection.

By plane

TACV Cabo Verde airlines has regular flights between the majority of the islands.

If you can afford to wait until you arrive, domestic tickets are cheaper if purchased in Cape Verde.

If your international flights are booked with TACV, you can purchase a Cabo Verde Air Pass for flights within 21 day period. Price start at €110 for two coupons and €60 for every extra coupon.

TACV flights can be rebooked for 2,000$.

Halcyonair have also started servicing some of the major internal routes.

  • TACV Cabo Verde Islands

  • TACV Air Pass

  • TACV (German Site)

  • Halcyonair

By boat

There are ferry services between the islands. Depending on the distance between the islands you are going from and to, flying can be significantly shorter but also significantly more expensive.

By taxi

Nice, new taxis are available in the major cities and are metered. Aluguers, which are usually either open back pickup trucks with bench seats or 15 passenger Toyota vans, tend to travel between more rural destinations, particularly on Santa Antão.

Things to do

  • Game fishing


Cape Verde has fantastic fresh seafood. Tuna is common, as is Wahoo - a white fleshed fish with similar texture.

  • Lagostada – a lobster dish

  • Cachupa - the national dish made with maize and potato. Fish or chicken commonly added for flavor.

  • Tosta mista - common toasted ham and cheese sandwich.

European food is common on all the islands. Italian is especially popular on Sal. Vegetarians can ask for omelets or salads.



The official currency of Cape Verde is the escudo, abbreviated CVE and indicated with a dollar symbol after the amount. The currency is fixed against the euro at 110$ per euro.

In the resort islands of Sal and Boa Vista, euros are commonly accepted, although you might receive change in escudos.

Money can be changed from all major currencies at the international airports at Sal and Praia. Bank branches at larger towns will also change money. Larger towns also have ATMs that will take Visa, MasterCard and Maestro.

High end hotels will accept credit cards. Other hotels will expect cash although many mid-range ones will accept euros at a reasonably exchange rate (slightly worse than the banks). For everything else, expect to pay in escudos.


The official language is Portuguese. Crioulo (a blend of Portuguese and West African words) is widely spoken. English is well understood by some, although French is the main third-language.

If you don't speak Portuguese or French, you will want to bring a Portuguese phrasebook.

Stay healthy

In the resorts, the tap water is usually desalinated and safe to drink. In other areas, bottled water is cheap and commonly available.


Crime rates are relatively low. The emergency number is 132.


The telephone system is effective and improving. There is mobile phone coverage in all cities and most towns. Check with your provider as to the roaming costs.

The country also has one Internet service provider.

Contact & location

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The photos displayed on this page are the property of one of the following authors:

F Mira, bigmikesndtech

Some photos courtesy of: . The photos provided by Flickr are under the copyright of their owners.

This travel guide also includes text from Wikitravel articles, all available at WikitravelView full credits

Stefan ErtmannPeter Fitzgerald, Jason Haines, Jani Patokallio, David, Jacquie Cozens, Stephen Atkins, Ryan Holliday, Todd VerBeek, Ricardo and Yann Forget, ChubbyWimbus, Tvoz, Tatatabot, Inas, Yzerfontein, Texugo, Episteme, Jake73, InterLangBot and CIAWorldFactbook2002

This travel guide also includes text from Wikipedia articles, all available at WikipediaView full credits

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Portuguese, Crioulo - Cape Verdean escudo (CVE)
Area4,033 sq km
Electricity220V/50Hz (European plug)
Population420,979 (July 2006 est.)
ReligionRoman Catholic (infused with indigenous beliefs); Protestant (mostly Church of the Nazarene)
TimezoneUTC -1