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Cape Verde Islands

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Situated in the Atlantic Ocean, 460km west of Senegal, the Cape Verde Islands are a Volcanic Archipelago made up of 10 main islands and 5 smaller ones.

The islands are divided into two groups: Windward and Leeward. The Windward group is Boavista, Sal, Santo Antao, Sao Nicolau, Sao Vicente and Santa Luzia (uninhabited) while the Leeward group consists of Fogo, Brava, Maio and Santiago.

The Cape Verde Islands are at the very northern limit of the tropical rain belt and therefore have a Dry-Tropical climate. If the rains do come (and they often don't), it is usually between August and October. Average daily maximum temperatures range from about 25ºC in January to 29ºC in August. Sea Surface Temperatures range from about 21ºC in winter to about 26ºC in the late summer.

When the Portuguese discovered the islands in the mid Fifteenth Century, the islands were uninhabited. Under Portuguese rule the islands became the centre of the slave trade in the Atlantic and the population today are the descendants of both the Portuguese Colonisers and the African Slaves that were captured. Although the official language is Portuguese, most people speak Creole - a mix of Portuguese, African Languages and even some English.

The islands are full of contrasts; flat, barren and parched islands like Sal in the east to mountainous, cloud capped islands such as Santo Antao in the west. Black sand beaches, bleached-white beaches, high cliffs and mountainous peaks and desert plains interrupted by volcanic cones.

There is plenty to see and do: Diving, Hill Walking, Fishing, Windsurfing or just relaxing on the beach. Since Tourism is a relatively recent arrival, you can still sample the real culture of the islands from the more European (Sao Vicente) to the more African (Santiago).

Satellite image courtesy of NASA.

Cape Verde Islands