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Cape Verde: It's People, Geography, and Culture
By Melody Lassalle

The Cape Verde Islands are officially known as Republica de Cabo Verde. The capital is Praia. The islands llie in the Atlantic Ocean, west of Senegal. Cape Verde consists of two island groups, the Barlavento and the Sotavento. The Barlavento group consists of Santo Antao, Sao Vicente, Santa Luzia, Sal, Boa Vista, and Sao Nicolau. The Sotavento group consists of Sao Tiago, Maio, Fogo, and Brava. The terrain is mostly mountainous.

The earliest habitants of Cape Verde were the Portuguese people who came in 1462. Soon after, West African slaves were brought to the islands. Slavery was abolished here in 1876. A penal colony was set up in the islands in the 1500s. Many of the convicts stayed once they completed their sentence. Portugal also sent "undesirables" such as political adversaries, criminals, etc., to the islands.

The population was estimated at 412,137 in 2003. The people of Cape Verde are referred to as Caboverdeans (aka Caboverdeanos and Cape Verdeans). They consist of 3 groups: Creole 71% (a mixture of African and European ancestry), African 28%, and European 1%. Caboverdeans are primarily Roman Catholic with some mingling with African religions. The literacy rate in the islands is one of the highest throughout Africa at 71.6% (1995).

Portuguese cultural influences have mingled with the African in Cape Verde. The primary languages of the islands are Portuguese and Crioulo (a blend of African and Portuguese languages). The food is primarily Portuguese with a unique Cape Verde flair. Some dishes from Cape Verde are: Pastel com Diablo Dentro--A deep fried dish consisting of tuna, onion, and tomatoes wrapped in a pastry made of potatoes and corn flour; Coldo de Peixe--a fish stew; and Bananas Enroladas--deep friend banana pastry.

The music of Cape Verde has a style of it's own. Many musical forms can be found here. A dance beat called Funana is quite popular. The national form is called Morna. Cesaria Evora, "The Barefoot Diva", is one of the most famous musician from the islands. She is a native of Sao Vicente, Cape Verde. She music crosses from the fado of Portugal to the choro of Brasil to the traditional music of Cape Verde.

The main agriculture products of Cape Verde are bananas, corn, beans, sweet potatoes, sugarcane, coffee, and peanuts. Fishing is the main industry for the islands, with salt mining and ship repair as the other major industries.

Copyright © 2003 Melody Lassalle

1. Embassy of Cape Verde. "Republic of Cape Verde". (Republic of Cape Verde")
2. Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, 2001. "Cape Verde". (Cape Verde)
3. World Almanac and Book of Facts, 1993. Pharos Books, 1992.
4. New American Desk Encyclopedia, Signet, 1989. "Cape Verde" (page 222).
5. "Cape Verde". Family Education Network Inc : 2000-2003. (Cape Verde)
6. Lonely Planet World Guide. "Destination Cape Verde". (Destination Cape Verde)
7. Kaliss, Jeff. "Cesaria Evora". (Cesaria Evora)

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