Exploring Cabo Verde: Africa’s Archipelago of Diversity and Vitality

Introduction to Cabo Verde

Nestled in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Senegal, lies the enchanting archipelago of Cabo Verde. Comprising a group of islands with a total land area of 4,033 sq km, this Western African country boasts of rugged, volcanic landscapes and a coastline stretching for 965 kilometers. Despite its lack of freshwater resources, with zero sq km of area water, Cabo Verde presents a mesmerizing blend of steep, rocky terrain and a temperate climate that has shaped the life and culture of its people.

Geography and Climate

Cabo Verde’s geographical setting is marked by its steep, rugged, and volcanic characteristics. The highest elevation point on the archipelago is found at Mt. Fogo, a volcano on Fogo Island, peaking at 2,829 meters. This dramatic landscape is tempered by a climate that ranges from warm and dry summers to meager and erratic precipitation. The islands’ natural environments vary considerably, from salt flats in the east exploited for their extensive deposits to more fertile southward islands supporting larger populations.

Natural Resources and Land Use

In terms of natural resources, Cabo Verde is endowed with salt, basalt rock, limestone, kaolin, fish, clay, and gypsum. The agricultural sector, utilizing 18.60% of the land, produces bananas, corn, beans, sweet potatoes, sugarcane, coffee, peanuts, and fish. Notably, the country’s forest land covers 21% of the area, while irrigated land was estimated at 35 sq km in 2012. Despite challenges such as soil fertility degradation and vegetation damage due to agriculture and livestock grazing, these islands sustain a diverse range of agricultural products.

Population and Urbanization

As of July 2020, Cabo Verde was home to approximately 583,255 people. The distribution of this population across the nine inhabited islands is variable, influenced greatly by the islands’ climatic and environmental conditions. Praia, the capital located on Sao Tiago Island, hosts about half of the nation’s residents, serving as a vibrant hub of activity and culture. Another significant urban area includes Mindelo on the northern island of Sao Vicente. Overall, the urban population constituted 66.70% of the total in 2020, highlighting a trend towards urbanization.

Language, Culture, and Economy

The official language of Cabo Verde is Portuguese, reflecting its colonial history and cultural ties to Portugal. The Cabo Verdean economy is diversified across various sectors including food and beverages, fish processing, shoe and garment manufacturing, salt mining, and ship repair. Agricultural products form the backbone of the rural economy, while the nation’s industries cater to both local needs and export demands. Notably, Spain and Portugal emerge as primary trade partners, highlighting the islands’ integration into the global economy.

Infrastructure and Development

Developmental strides have been impressive in recent years, with an electrification rate reaching 92.6% of the total population by 2016. The GDP per capita stood at $7,000 in 2017, indicating gradual economic growth. Infrastructure developments in transport equipment, fuels, and industrial products are largely imported, with Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, and China being key import partners. Conversely, Cabo Verde exports primarily consist of fuel (re-exports), shoes, garments, fish, and hides, showcasing the diversity and potential of its economic activities.


Cabo Verde is a country of remarkable diversity, resilience, and beauty. From its volcanic peaks to its vibrant urban centers like Praia and Mindelo, the islands stand as a testament to the enduring spirit of its people. Despite facing geographical and environmental challenges, the nation has carved a niche for itself in the global arena through strategic economic activities, cultural richness, and sustainable development efforts. As the world looks closer at Africa’s potentials, Cabo Verde shines brightly as a beacon of progress and diversity.

Country data

Country Code CV
Region Africa
Surface 4033 sq km
Land Surface 4033 sq km
Water Surface 0 sq km
Agricultural Surface 18.60%
Forest Surface 21.00%
Lowest Elevation Point n/a
Highest Elevation Point Mt. Fogo (a volcano on Fogo Island) 2,829 m
GDP / capita $7,000 (2017 est.)