Cape Verde, also known as Cabo Verde, is an island country located in the Atlantic Ocean, 570km west of the Cape Verde Peninsula off the coast of Northwest Africa. Here are 10 interesting facts about Cape Verde.
1. The country spans an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean and forms part of the Macaronesia ecoregion, along with the Azores, Canary Islands, Madeira, and the Savage Isles.
2. The archipelago was uninhabited until the 15th century when Portuguese explorers colonized the islands, establishing the first European settlement in the tropics. The location of the islands was strategic for the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and merchants, privateers and pirates flocked to the archipelago in the 16th and 17th centuries. The slave trade made the islands prosperous, and the end of the slave trade led to a decline in economic prosperity.
3. Cape Verde gained independence from Portugal in 1975.
4. Cape Verde's economy mainly hinges upon the service industry due to a lack of natural resources. Commerce, transport, and public services accounting for more than 70% of GDP.
5. Only five of the ten main islands support agriculture and approximately only 10-11% of the land is suitable for agriculture. Over 90% of all food eaten in Cape Verde is imported. Corn is the staple food the country and Cachupa—a stew principally made of mashed corn, manioc, sweet potatoes, onions, green bananas, squash, and yams—is the national dish.
6. The people of Cape Verde are a mixture of the descendants of European settlers and African slaves who were brought to the islands to work on Portuguese plantations. Due to this history, most Cape Verdeans are mixed race, also called mestiços in Portuguese or creole.
7. Cape Verde is a lusophone country. The official language of the country is Portuguese.
8. Sugar cane liquor is a popular drink in Cape Verde. Traditionally known as Grog or Grogue, it is recognized as the national liquor of the country and is manufactured on the island by farmers.
9. Charles Darwin and Christopher Colombus visited the archipelago on their travels.
10. In 2013, the population of Cape Verde was 512,096, with 236,000 of these people living on the main island, Santiago. Praia, the capital city, is found on Santiago island.