Cape Verdes Islands
The Cape Verde Islands, an archipelago found off the coast of Western Africa, are perhaps better known as the Republic of Cape Verde. There are ten major islands in the archipelago, comprising a total area of approximately four thousand square kilometers. The Cape Verde Islands take their name from Cap Vert, a peninsula along the coast of Senegal. Although the Cape Verde Islands only about three hundred miles off the coast of continental Africa, the archipelago was free from human inhabitants until European exploration about six hundred years ago. In the fifteenth century, Portuguese navigators discovered the Cape Verde Islands, which unfortunately became an important hub for the slave trade. The archipelago lost political importance during and after the nineteenth century, and eventually gained autonomy in 1975 under the leadership of Amilcar Cabral. Although the Cape Verde Islands are still a developing nation, the country’s tourism sector has become increasingly important over the past few decades. The hospitality industry has capitalized both on the region’s beautiful weather and on the impressive cultural diversity of the islands. Despite its youth, the Cape Verde Islands are a stable democratic society with a high literacy rate and a relatively low rate of national poverty.
Aside from a striking volcanic landscape and a mild temperature throughout the year, the Cape Verde Islands boast an impressive variety of local flora and fauna. Some notable local species include the Cape Verde Giant Gecko, the Cape Verde Shearwater, Alexander’s Swift, and Bourne’s Heron. The Cape Verde Islands also have a diverse human ethnography, boasting a largely creole population and a number of different resident cultures. The Cape Verde Islands have increased their GDP by about seven percent every year over the last decade, and were recently inducted as a member of the World Trade Organization. The Cape Verde Islands’ tourism industry has performed strongly for several years, attracting a total of nearly four hundred thousand visitors over the course of 2010. Tourism depends heavily on the natural beauty of the Cape Verde Islands, the picturesque beaches of the archipelago, the vibrant local culture, and the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors to the Cape Verde Islands generally access the region by boat as well as through the new Boa Vista and Sao Pedro Airports.
The Cape Verde Islands’ rich cultural tradition include unique styles of local music called morna, which is known for its haunting lyrics, coladeira, and funana. Other local traditions include walks, soccer games, and rare dance forms. Cape Verde’s youth are remarkably well educated, with a youth literacy rate approaching one hundred percent, and mandatory primary school education. Cape Verde is also well known for wavesailing, and regularly attracts internationally known windsurfers. Some well known tourist attractions in the Cape Verde Islands include Pico do Fogo, a volcanic mountain, diving spots, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Cidade Velha. The Cape Verde Islands boast sunshine more than three hundred fifty days per year, which draws tourists primarily from European nations such as the United Kingdom, Portugal, Italy, and Germany.