From The Hippo’s Ears: Cabo Verde

Facts you may not have know about Cabo Verde:

Cabo Verde, officially the Republic of Cabo Verde, is an island country spanning an archipelago of 10 volcanic islands in the central Atlantic Ocean, and forms part of the Macronesia ecoregion. In ancient times these islands were referred to as “the Islands of the Blessed” or the “Fortunate Isles”. Located 570 kilometers (350 miles) west of the Cabo Verde Peninsula off the coast of Northwest Africa, the islands cover a combined area of slightly over 4,000 square kilometers (1,500 sq miles).

Cabo Verde has a population of approximately 540,000, and is a unitary, semi-presidential republic. Cabo Verde gained independence from Portugal in 1975, and began using a multi-party system in 1990.

1.  When you first meet someone, how do you greet them?

A handshake is a very common greeting, and some people may prefer to greet by kissing on the cheek. Useful phrases include “olá” (hello). “modi bu sta?” (how are you?), and “te logu” (goodbye).

2. What languages are spoken in the country?

Cabo Verde has one official language – Portuguese.

It is the language of instruction and government, and is also used in newspapers, television, and radio. Cape Verdean Creole, a dialect continuum of Portuguese-based creole, is a recognized national language. It is used colloquially, and is the mother tongue of virtually all Cape Verdeans.

3. Do you use a twelve hour clock, or a twenty-four hour clock?

We use a 24-hour system.

4. What side of the road do people drive on? What do we need to know about driving in the country?

We drive on the right side of road.

5. How important is punctuality?

Time is flexible in Cape Verde. People don’t always arrive on time for meetings – this is part of the culture.

6. Which types of music are popular? Who are some of the most popular musicians?

Cape Verde music incorporates African, Portuguese, and Brazilian influences. Cape Verde’s quintessential national music is the morna, a melancholy and lyrical song form typically sung in Cape Verdean Creole. The most popular music genre after morna is the coladeira, followed by funaná and batuque music. Cesária Évora is a well-known Cape Verdean singer worldwide, known as the “barefoot diva”, because she liked to perform barefooted on stage. Other popular singers include Sara Tavares, Lura, and Mayra Andrade.

For a taste of Cabo Verdean music, listen to Cesária Évora’s Bia Lulucha.

7. Are there any Traditional Dances?

Two major traditional dances are the funaná (accompanied by accordion-based music), and the batuque (which is danced in a circle, and accompanied by singing only).

Watch traditional batuque dancing here.

8.  What traditional Festivals are celebrated in the country?


Taking place each February or March, this is Cabo Verde’s most famous festival. The carnival is characterized by revellers cladded in fancy dresses who throng streets creating an electrifying atmosphere with the beat of good music. There is an entertaining float procession, with incredible, flamboyant costumes against the backdrop of a clear blue sky.

The Flag Feast

This festival takes place on April 30th, on the island of Fogo. The festival starts with the ritual of women peeling and pounding maize in a pestle to the beat of the drum. The flags are important symbols and are blessed in water. Fogo males compete in horse races to have the honour of organizing next year’s event. The event combines a ceremonial mass and street party.

Sete Sóis e Sete Luas

Taking place in Ribeira Grande, on the island of Santo Antao, this festival offers superb music and culture. The name means ‘Seven Suns and Seven Moons’.

9. What are the seasons like?

Cape Verde’s climate is milder than that of the African mainland, because the surrounding sea moderates temperatures on the islands and cold Atlantic currents produce an arid atmosphere around the archipelago. Conversely, the islands do not receive the upwellings (cold streams) that affect the West African coast, so the air temperature is cooler than in Senegal, but the sea is warmer, because the orographic relief of some islands, such as Santiago with steep mountains, cover it with rich woods and luxuriant vegetation. Average daily high temperatures range from 26 °C (79 °F) in February to 31 °C (87.8 °F) in September. It rains irregularly between August and October.

10. What are some interesting facts about the President?

President Jorge Carlos Fonseca has led the country since 2011. He served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1991 to 1993. President Fonseca studied law, which he lectured at the University of Lisbon. He was also Assistant Professor and Chairman of the Board of the Institute for Law and Social Sciences in Cape Verde. The President has been married to Lígia Fonseca since 1989.

11. What are the country’s major industries?

Cape Verde’s notable economic growth and improvement in living conditions despite a lack of natural resources has garnered international recognition, with other countries and international organizations often providing development aid. The economy of Cape Verde is service-oriented, with commerce, transport, and public services accounting for more than 70% of GDP. Although nearly 35% of the population lives in rural areas, agriculture and fishing contribute only about 9% of GDP. Light manufacturing accounts for most of the remainder. Cabo Verde has cooperation with Portugal at every level of the economy, and in 2007, joined the World Trade Organization (WTO).

12. What are some of the things visitors can look forward to experiencing?

Major tourist attractions include Pico do Fogo (a stratovolcano), Buracona (a popular lagoon and cave), Monte Verde (the highest peak in Cabo Verde, with beautiful views), and Praia da Atalanta beach.

13. What is a popular local drink?

Popular drinks include Strela (a beer produced in the capital), and several varieties of wines from Chã das Caldeiras, including Santa Luzia and Brava.

14. What is a popular local dish?

The Cape Verde diet is mostly based on fish and staple foods like corn and rice. A popular dish served in Cape Verde is cachupa, a slow cooked stew of corn (hominy), beans, and fish or meat. A common appetizer is the pastel, which is a pastry shell filled with fish or meat that is then fried.

15. What do you pay, on average, for the following?

Cabo Verde’s currency is the Cabo Verdean Escudo. (1 USD = approximately 97 Cabo Verdean Escudo).

3 Course meal: 1,500 CVE
Domestic beer: 170 CVE
Cup of coffee: 130 CVE
Coca cola (330ml): 110 CVE
Milk (1l): 110 CVE
Loaf of white bread: 110 CVE
Apples (1 kg): 275 CVE
Water (1.5l): 90 CVE

16. Any general safety tips?

  • Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings.
  • Keep sight of your belongings at all times. Leave valuables in a hotel safe if possible and don’t carry large amounts of cash.
  • Avoid unlit areas after dark.
  • Petty crimes like pick-pocketing or handbag snatching can occur, including on beaches.
  • Make sure your holiday accommodation is secure. Lock all doors and windows at night and when you go out.
  • Sexual assaults are rare but they do occur. Be alert and avoid secluded stretches of the beach with limited or restricted visibility.
  • Carry valuables in your hand luggage when traveling via Boa Vista airport.
  • Make sure your car or bike is in good condition, and insured.

17. In conclusion, famous (and sometimes infamous) people from the country include:

  • Cesária Évora, a popular singer. She has appeared on local bank notes and stamps, and was awarded the Grand-Cross of the Order of Prince Henry, Portugal.
  • Lidiane Lopes, a Cape Verdean sprinter who specializes in the 100 meters and 200 meters. She is a 100 meters record holder, and competed at both the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics.
  • Ryan Mendes, a Cape Verdean football winger who plays for Sharjah in the UAE.


For information as to how Relocation Africa  can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, and Remuneration needs, email, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8]. Image sources: [1], [2],  Rainer Strehl [3].