Cabo Verde Geography

What is the terrain and geography like in Cabo Verde?


A little over 500 years ago, early Portuguese explorers discovered an archipelago of ten islands just off the coast of West Africa (620 km./385 miles due west of Senegal) and about halfway between Portugal and Brazil. Because there was inadequate water, the islands had no permanent settlements at the time. The Portuguese Crown found the location strategically important, despite the water shortage, and established a colony called "Cabo Verde." The new colony acquired a population - Portuguese, other Europeans, and Africans (initially as slaves) - who soon intermarried and founded a Creole culture, with subsequent additions from the Netherlands, Morocco, and New England when Cape Verde became the refueling and crewing center for whaling vessels, as well as an entrepôt for other parts of Africa. These three elements - location (between Europe and the New World; off Africa but not part of the mainland), the lack of water, and the mix of peoples have continued to play a major role in shaping the history, prospects, and the sense of identity of Cape Verde.

The 10 islands, totaling about 4,033 sq. km., are volcanic and have limited arable land. Nine of them are inhabited. Santo Antão, São Vicente, Boa Vista, São Nicolau, and Sal, (plus the uninhabited Santa Luzia) make up the six Windward Islands, while Maio, Santiago (which contains the capital, Praia), Fogo (with a semi-active volcano), and Brava comprise the four Leeward islands. The total population, according to the 2000 census, is 434,812. Santiago Island (with the city of Praia) alone contains over half of the total population and Mindelo (the second largest city) on São Vicente accounts for an additional 15%.

Geography - note

Strategic location 500 km from the west coast of Africa near major north-south sea routes; important communications station; an important sea and air refueling site

Cabo Verde Use of Natural Resources

Geographic Location Africa
Total Area 1,557 Square Miles
4,033 Square Kilometers
Land Area 1,557 Square Miles
4,033 Square Kilometers
Irrigated Land 13 Square Miles
34 Square Kilometers
Coastline 600 Miles
965 Kilometers
Geographic Coordinates 16 00 N, 24 00 W
Terrain Steep, rugged, rocky, volcanic
Highest Point 2,829 Meters
Highest Point Location Mt. Fogo 2,829 m (a volcano on Fogo Island)
Lowest Point Location Atlantic Ocean 0 m
Natural Resources Salt, basalt rock, limestone, kaolin, fish
Time Zone UTC-1 (4 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

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