A map of Cape Verde Cape Verde is an archipelago (island chain) of volcanic islands lying 570 kilometres (350 miles) off the West African coast. The ten islands form a crescent; the northern six are known as the Barlavento Islands, while the southern four are called the Sotavento Islands. Many of the islands are mountainous, covered by scrubland. The largest island by both land area and population is Santiago. The smallest, Santa Luzia, which lacks fresh water, is uninhabited. Flat, sandy islands such as Sal and Boa Vista have hot, dry climates, while those with high mountains are more humid—moisture from the ocean forms clouds over the islands’ peaks. Since 2013, Cape Verde has officially been known as the República de Cabo Verde, or Cabo Verde.
The Portuguese were the first people to discover and colonize the islands; they arrived in the 15th century. Today, Cape Verde is home to just over 500,000 people. Most are of mixed African and European (mainly Portuguese) descent; the rest are ethnically African. They speak a Portuguese creole language called Crioulo as well as Portuguese and are mainly Roman Catholic. About half of the entire population lives on the largest island, Santiago, where the capital, Praia, is situated.
Hurricanes often form off the coast of Cape Verde. Known as “Cape-Verdean-type hurricanes”, they sweep westwards across the Atlantic, often developing into bigger storms that pummel the Caribbean islands and the coasts of Central America.
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