Cape Verde Travel Information

Photo The Republic of Cape Verde consists of nine inhabited and several uninhabited volcanic islands off the West Coast of Africa. Most are rugged and mountainous; three are flat, desert islands with sand beaches. While the tourist industry is bringing ever-growing numbers of tourists, facilities on most islands remain limited. Cape Verde enjoys a stable, democratic government. Cape Verde has few natural resources and suffers from inadequate rainfall and freshwater supplies. During periods of normal rainfall, only 4 of 10 islands (Santiago, Santo Antão, Fogo, and Brava) support significant agricultural production. Mineral resources are salt, pozzolana (a volcanic rock used in cement production), and limestone. Since 1991, the government has pursued market-oriented economic policies, including an open welcome to foreign investors and a far-reaching privatization program. Although limited by scarce arable land and diminished by regular drought, agriculture remains an important economic activity. Staple crops include maize and beans; also cultivated are sweet potatoes, coconuts, potatoes, cassava, and dates. Some bananas are grown for export, and sugarcane is raised for the making of rum. Because of its mountainous terrain, only 9.7 percent of the islands' area is cultivated. Subdivision of farms from generation to generation has reduced many farms to a size smaller than needed for subsistence, and Cape Verde depends on food imports (much of it in the form of aid) to feed its people.

Cape Verde is located in the midst of rich fishing grounds, although the industry has yet to develop to its potential. Fish-processing facilities have been constructed in Mindelo, and the government has initiated programs to modernize the fishing fleet. The catch in 1997 was 10,039 metric tons; the catch is usually composed chiefly of skipjack and yellowfin tuna and wahoo, a type of large mackerel. Some lobsters are caught for export.

Cape Verde is attempting to capitalize on its strategic location at the crossroads of mid-Atlantic air and sea lanes by expanding, with the assistance of foreign aid, airports, and port facilities. Main ports are at Mindelo and Praia. The international airport at Espargos, on Sal, is a refueling stop for flights to Africa and South America. A second international airport is under construction on São Tiago. With unspoiled beaches and a sunny climate, the government has identified tourism as the primary focus of development, although the number of visitors in 1998 was only 52,000.

Important: Travel to Cape Verde may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's Cape Verde visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: Republic of Cape Verde
Capital city: Praia
Area: 4,033 sq km
Population: 523,568
Ethnic groups: Creole
Languages: Portuguese
Religions: Roman Catholic
Government: republic
Chief of State: President Jorge Carlos FONSECA
Head of Government: Prime Minister Jose Maria Pereira NEVES
GDP: 2.052 billion
GDP per captia: 3,900
Annual growth rate: 5%
Inflation: 4.5%
Agriculture: bananas, corn, beans, sweet potatoes, sugarcane, coffee, peanuts
Major industries: food and beverages, fish processing, shoes and garments, salt mining, ship repair
Natural resources: salt, basalt rock, limestone, kaolin, fish, clay, gypsum
Location: Western Africa, group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Senegal
Trade Partners - exports: Spain 64.4%, Portugal 18.5%
Trade Partners - imports: Portugal 36.8%, Netherlands 25.3%, Spain 7%, Italy 5.2%, China 5.2%