Cape Verde or CV (Portuguese: Cabo Verde, Kriolu: Kabu Verdi) is a country off the coast of West Africa. It is located in a cluster of islands of the Atlantic Ocean, 570 km (350 mi) off the western coast of Senegal.
Cape Verde is formed by 10 main islands and about 8 islets. The main islands are (clockwise from northwest):
With the cultural capital of Mindelo.
Santa Luzia is uninhabited but can be visited as a day trip from São Vicente.
Has great beaches, water sports and resorts aplenty. But little else.
Even nicer beaches.
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.
A spectacular volcano island which last erupted in 2014. Farmers are still growing vines for wine in the crater and growing coffee on its slopes.
A small, very hilly island accessible by ferry from Fogo a few times a week and is a great place to get away from it all. Faja de Agua is a dramatic remote bay and village from which the American Whaling ships collected supplies and crew with many from Brava now settled in Boston, USA.
There are 24 cities in Cape Verde.
- 1 Praia – the capital, on Santiago Island
- 2 Mindelo – port city on São Vicente, probably the country's liveliest
- 3 Cidade Velha (Ribeira Grande) – A historic town on Santiago
- 4 Espargos is the capital of Sal where the airport is and Santa Maria is the main tourist area at the south of the island
- 5 Assomada is the seat of municipality of Santa Catarina on Santiago
- 6 Santa Maria - former administrative capital and the most populous city on Sal
- 7 São Filipe capital of island Fogo
- 1 Brava , the smallest island, is a botanist's paradise, home to many unique flora that live in its misty forests
- 2 Pico de Fogo - an active volcano on Fogo that has created a unique landscape best explored on foot or horseback
|Cape Verdean escudo (CVE)
|555.9 thousand (2020)
|220 volt / 50 hertz (Europlug, Schuko)
|Cape Verde Time, UTC−01:00, Atlantic/Cape_Verde
|+238-130 (emergency medical services), 131 (fire department), 132 (police)
|edit on Wikidata
Cape Verde (population 550,000 in 2019) is 500 km from the west coast of Africa. The previously uninhabited islands were discovered and colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th century; they subsequently became a trading centre 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 ancestors.
The government declared in 2013 that the country's official name would not be translated into foreign languages and the country is now the Republic of Cabo Verde or simply Cabo Verde, although only time will tell if this change will enter common usage.
Cape Verde’s climate is temperate, with a warm, dry summer. Precipitation is meagre and falls between June and February, peaking in September.
Some islands see almost no rain: these are Sal, Boavista and Maio. The islands with most rainfall are Santiago, Fogo and Santo Antao.
The national holiday is 5 July, Independence Day.
The official language is Portuguese, used in all official publications and announcements as well as in business, media and schools, but the local language is Cape Verdean Creole (Kriolu kabuverdianu), a Portuguese-based creole language with 90-95% of the words from Portuguese and the rest mainly from West African languages. It is divided into 9 dialects spoken on various parts of the country. Even though Kriolu is comprehensible to a skilled Portuguese-speaker, almost all people can also speak Portuguese as a second language. A considerable number of Cape Verdeans also speak English; basically, Kriolu is your first option, Portuguese second, English third.
It is a good idea to know some Kriolu or at least Portuguese, since even though young urban people are often quite proficient in English, this does not apply to old and rural people, and even those who can speak English will highly appreciate any attempt you do to speak Kriolu or Portuguese.
Citizens of Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Hong Kong, Liberia, Macau, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Timor-Leste and Togo do not require a visa to enter Cape Verde.
European Union citizens are also visa exempt, but have to pay an entry fee of approximately €30. Pre-registration is possible at the EASE website of the Cabo Verde government for a faster entry through automated passport control (at least in the Nelson Mandela airport in Praia of Santiago as of July 2022).
Everybody else may obtain a visa on arrival at a cost of around €30. The waiting queues for this option may be longer than for pre-registered visitors.
Cape Verde has four international airports:
- Amílcar Cabral International Airport on Sal Island (IATA SID).
- Nelson Mandela International Airport in Praia on Santiago (Cape Verde) (IATA RAI).
- Aristides Pereira International Airport on Boa Vista (Cape Verde) (IATA BVC)
- Cesária Évora Airport on São Vicente (IATA VXE)
These airports provide 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.
Cape Verde is serviced through two types of flight connections: scheduled flights and charter flights (mostly reserved for all-inclusive vacations to the islands of Sal and Boa Vista (Cape Verde). There are regular flights from Amsterdam Schiphol, Lisbon (daily), Madrid Barajas, Milan, Munich Airport, and Oporto.
Some specific connections to Cabo Verde are:
- Cabo Verde Airlines. fly from Lisbon
- TAP Portugal. fly from Lisbon
- Royal Air Maroc. Fly from Casablanca
- Thomson Holidays. You can fly direct to Santa Maria on Sal from London Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester Airport on Astraeus and also with Thomson Holidays from Birmingham, Manchester and Gatwick.
From the Americas
There are regular weekly flights from Fortaleza (Brazil).
West Africa is also served.
There are only infrequent, expensive connections to the mainland by ship. On the other hand the islands are commonly visited by yachts crossing the Atlantic (see Hitchhiking boats).
Most road and sidewalk surfaces in Cabo Verde are made of large, rough, irregular, uneven and sharp cobblestones, which are often spaced wide apart and may protrude several centimetres from the ground. These surfaces are generally unsuitable for wheeled luggage, baby strollers, folding bicycles or anything with wheels smaller than those of a car or standard bicycle.
Transportation between islands is possible by plane and ferry. Plane tickets are more expensive than ferry tickets. If funds are not a constraint, Cabo Verdeans seem to prefer flights due to better reliability, shorter duration and lack of sea-sickness.
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.
As of July 2022, the COVID information website of the government claims that it is still required to pre-fill a health registration form to travel to Cabo Verde and from island to island. In practice, it seems that only vaccination certificates (triple dose required) or negative COVID test is required and checked.
As of July 2022, Best Fly Cabo Verde airlines has regular flights between the majority of the islands. Booking is possible through the website or local tourist agencies. Payments can be made via Credit Card when selecting the vinti4 payment options.
Tickets may be sold out days or weeks ahead - especially if there are more potential passengers when the ferry service is interrupted. Consider booking early, especially for critical connections. In case of emergency, some spaces of no-show passengers may be available. Go to the airport in the morning to be put on the waiting list to have the chance to gain such a space.
If you can afford to wait until you arrive, domestic tickets are cheaper if purchased in Cape Verde.
There are ferry services between the islands. As of July 2022, all ferries are operated by CV Interilhas. Schedules and ticket booking possibilities are available on the website. According to Cabo Verdean locals, ferries seem to have reliability issues so it is advisable to check the website before departure and to have a backup plan. For the journey, the sea conditions may cause sea sickness so it is advisable to take the same precautions as on any ferry journey.
Nice, new taxis are available in the major cities and are not metered.
Shared transportation called Aluguers are available on each island. These are usually either Toyota Hilux open-back pickup trucks with bench seats and sunroof or 15-passenger Toyota Hiace vans. Aluguer rates are fixed. The rates are displayed in a few, but not all alugers. Short distances may be as inexpensive as 50 (escudos) while longer distances may cost as much as 600. Aluguers depart from central stations in larger cities and run along major roads. They stop for passengers along the road. A request to disembark is made by telling "Para!" to the conductor.
Cape Verde's road network is underdeveloped in places, and roads are often unpaved, especially on the smaller islands. The main roads are asphalted. Road lighting is poor, so particular care must be taken when driving in the dark. The local traffic culture is unruly by western standards. Traffic speeds can be high. Drunk driving is common.
- Cidade Velha, whose name translates to "Old City" was the first European city in the tropics and an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- The Cova Valley on Santo Antão - located in a crater of an extinct volcano.
- The town hall, cathedral and Palace of Justice in the capital Praia.
- Fogo, an island of volcanoes, one of which erupted in 1995 and 2014/2015.
The possibility on what to do differ strongly by the size and type of island (see pages for individual islands). Some activities available on particular islands include:
- Game fishing
- Kite surfing & wind surfing
- Jetskiing and other water sports
- Canyoning in Santo Antao
Exchange rates for Cape Verdean escudos
As of January 2024:
Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from XE.com
The official currency of Cape Verde is the escudo, denoted by the symbol "" (a cifrão, a symbol similar to the dollar sign, but with two vertical strokes instead of one) after the amount. Its ISO code is CVE. The currency is fixed against the euro at 110 per euro.
Coins in Cape Verde are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 250 escudos. Banknotes in Cape Verde are issued in denominations of 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 5,000 escudos.
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.
Since most goods are imported, the cost of living is moderate to high. On the island resorts of Boa Vista and Sal, the cost of living oftentimes can be compared to their Caribbean counterparts. The island of Santiago is reasonably the least expensive.
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.
Tap water may be contaminated due to incorrect storage (e.g. in containers on the roofs of buildings). Take the same precautions as in other regions with varying water quality. In case of doubt, bottled water is available in stores between $70 for a 1.5 l bottle to $400 for 10l Canisters.
Imported juices and soft drinks are available in these stores as well.
Local beer is a lager to drink ice cold, its name is Strela.
Red, white and rosé wines are grown and made in Fogo, e.g. under the Chã brand.
International beers and other drinks are available. These are imported from Portugal and other countries.
There are plenty of hotels and guest houses throughout the archipelago. Though the largest hotels are based on the islands of Sal (Riu Funana and Garopa hotels--1000 rooms combined), and Boa Vista (Riu Touareg--881 rooms).
There are 10 universities including institutes in the country. The largest universities are: Jean Piaget University of Cape Verde and University of Cape Verde.
The Cape Verdean economy is largely service-based, i.e., most Cape Verdeans work in industries, hospitals, transportation and tourism related activities.
Crime rates are relatively low. The emergency number is 132.
UK health authorities have classified Cape Verde as having a risk of Zika virus transmission.
The WHO declared that as of 2024, malaria has been eradicated in the entire country, with no cases reported for over three years.
In the resorts, the tap water is usually desalinated and safe to drink. In other areas, bottled water is cheap and commonly available.
People are polite and friendly: they will try to sell you something and if you refuse, they will invent stories about the hardship of their families. It is good to buy something, but important to bargain.
The telephone system is effective and improving.
The country also has one Internet service provider.
There is mobile phone coverage in all cities and most towns. As of July 2022, 4G coverage is common in some populated areas such as Santiago and Fogo. Check with your provider as to the roaming costs. Alternatively, local prepaid SIM cards branded CVMovel and Unitel T+ (Tmais) are available widespread. As of July 2022, these can be charged with around $1000 for approximately 7 GB of data, unlimited calls into the same provider network and 15 minutes of calls into the other provider. Ask the personnel to activate the SIM card for you and to activate the prepaid tariffs.