Difference between revisions of "Cape Verde"
Revision as of 12:39, 12 February 2013
Cape Verde  (Portuguese: Cabo Verde, Kriolu: Kabu Verdi) is a country in West Africa. It comprises a group of islands of the Atlantic Ocean, west of Senegal. It is part of the region of Islands collectively known as Macaronesia.
Cape Verde (pop. 506,000) is located 500 km from the west coast of Africa. The once uninhabited islands were discovered and colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th century; they subsequently became a trading center 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 antecedents.
Cape Verde’s climate is temperate, with a warm, dry summer. Precipitation is meager and falls between the months of June to February, peaking in September.
Some islands see almost no rain, these are Sal, Boavista and Maio. The islands with most rain fall are Santiago, Fogo and Santo Antao.
The national holiday is the 5th of July, Independence Day.
Cape Verde is formed by 10 main islands and about 8 islets. The main islands are (clockwise from northwest):
If you are arriving from a country with a Cape Verde embassy, you will be required to purchase a Visa in advance. Otherwise a visa can be purchased on arrival.
The Cape Verde Bureau (Cape Verde Consul) in Liverpool, England provides travel visas for travellers from the UK and Ireland.
Cape Verde has an embassy in Lisbon, Portugal. 
Cape Verde has an embassy in Brussels, Belgium.
Cape Verde has an embassy in Geneva, Switzerland.
Cape Verde has a consulate in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Cape Verde has an embassy in Washington, D.C., USA
Cape Verde has a consulate in Moscow, Russia. 
Cape Verde has an embassy in Brasília, Brazil. 
Cape Verde has a consulate in Vienna, Austria. 
Cape Verde has international airports on the islands of Sal, Santiago, Boa Vista and São Vicente. 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.
You can fly direct to Santa Maria on Sal from London Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester on Astraeus and also with Thomson Holidays from Birmingham, Manchester and Gatwick.
From the Americas
West Africa is also serviced by the oldest functioning and leading regional airline TACV Cabo Verde Airlines.
There are only infrequent, expensive connections to the mainland.
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.
TACV Cabo Verde  airlines has regular flights between the majority of the islands.
If you can afford to wait until you arrive, domestic tickets are cheaper if purchased in Cape Verde.
If your international flights are booked with TACV, you can purchase a Cabo Verde Air Pass for flights within 21 day period. Price start at €110 for two coupons and €60 for every extra coupon.
TACV flights can be rebooked for 2,000$.
Halcyonair  have also started servicing some of the major internal routes.
There are ferry services between the islands. Depending on the distance between the islands you are going from and to, flying can be significantly shorter but also significantly more expensive.
Nice, new taxis are available in the major cities and are metered. Aluguers, which are usually either open back pickup trucks with bench seats or 15 passenger Toyota vans, tend to travel between more rural destinations, particularly on Santo Antão.
The official language is Portuguese, used in all official publications and announcements as well as in business, media and schools, but the local language is Cape Verdean Creole (Kriolu kabuverdianu), a Portuguese-based creole language with 90-95% of the words from Portuguese and the rest mainly from West African languages. It is divided into 9 dialects spoken on various parts of the country. Even though Kriolu is comprehensible to a skilled Portuguese-speaker almost all people can also speak Portuguese as a second language. French is also known by many, and some people also speak English; basically, Kriolu is your first option, Portuguese second, French third, English fourth.
It is a good idea to know some Kriolu or at least Portuguese, since even though young urban people are often quite proficient in English, this does not apply to old and rural people, and even those who can speak English will highly appreciate any attempt you do to speak Kriolu or Portuguese.
The official currency of Cape Verde is the escudo, abbreviated CVE and indicated with a cifrão (a symbol similar to the dollar sign, but with two vertical strokes instead of one) after the amount. The currency is fixed against the euro at 110$ per euro.
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.
European food is common on all the islands. Italian is especially popular on Sal. Vegetarians can ask for omelets or salads.
Local beer is a lager to drink ice cold, its name is STRELA, but you can easily find international beers and other drinks, including some from Portugal.
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).
In the last decade a number of private villa resorts have been developed across the Islands, most notably on Sal, however with the 2008 property crash now subsiding a number of new private villas, townhouses and apartments in luxury resort communities have come onto the holiday rental market with many of the new resorts now on islands other than Sal. Cape Verde Private Holiday Rental Villas
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.
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, 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. There is mobile phone coverage in all cities and most towns. Check with your provider as to the roaming costs.
The country also has one Internet service provider.