Capital | Praia
Population | 429,474 (July 2009 est.)
Area | 4033 sq km
Official language | Portuguese, Crioulo
Holidays | Independence Day, 5 July (1975)
Currency | Cape Verdean escudos (CVE)
Time Zone | UTC-1
Best time to visit | August to October
Connecting with the Culture| Vanishing into the verdant valleys and forests of beautiful Santo Antao island. Gorging on Cape Verde’s delicious fresh fish or famous lobsters. Losing yourself in the colour and chaos of Mindelo’s Mardi Gras, the country’s most vibrant festival. Plunging into the wide open waters of the Atlantic and seeking out sharks, manta rays and whale. Huffing nad puffing to the top of Mount Fogo, an active volcano, still spouting its stuff. Cooing over a coladeira or two sung by a talented local singer.
Read | poet Jorge Barbosa’s Arquipelago, which is laden with melanchollic reflections on the sea and longings for liberation.
Listen | to the undisputed star of momas and coladeiras, Cesaria Evora.
Watch | O Testamento do Senhor Napumoceno (Napumoceno’s Will), a comedy about social and sexual mores among Cape Verde’s bourgeoisie.
Eat | the national dish, cachupa (a tasty stew of several kinds of beans plus corn and various kinds of meat, often sausage or bacon, or fish). Or try a tasty pastel corm diablo dentro (pastry with the devil inside)-a mix of fresh tuna, onions and tomatoes, wrapped in a pastry blended from boiled potatoes and corn flour, deep fried and served hot.
Drink | grogue (grog), the local sugar came spirit; ponch (rum, lemonade and honey), or Ceris, a decent bottled local beer.
In a word | Bom-dee-ah (`good morning’ in Crioulo, a Portuguese-based Creole)
Characteristics| Portuguese cultural legacy; volcanic islands; high literacy rate; mornas; coladeiras and funana music.
Surprises | On the islands of Cape Verde you can find lush valleys and mountains, long stretches of white sand, smoking volcanoes and dusty deserts, and pretty towns with cobbled streets. Additionally, there is Portuguese wine and local liquor, songs that are sad alongside those with a frenetic Latin beat, and exciting diving and windsurfing, hiking, and fishing. Islanders mix up African, Portugues, Mediterranean and Latin influecnes and come out with a flavor that is distinctly `Cabo’. Many indigenous inhabitants have left Cape Verde and now expats outnumber the islanders. When Charles Darwin visited the islands of Cape Verde more than 100 years ago, he noted that such `an utterly sterile land possess a grandeur which more vegetation might spoil.’