Cape Verde Islands (officially "Republic of Cabo Verde") is an island country consisting of 10 islands. The archipelago is located in central Atlantic Ocean, approx 570 km (350 ml) off the Africa's coast. They have a combined land area of 4000 km2 (1500 ml2).
- Cape Verde Islands were all uninhabited until the 15th century, when the Portuguese discovered (in 1456 AD) and colonized them. In 1462, Portuguese settlers arrived at Santiago Island and founded the Ribeira Grande settlement (now Cidade Velha) as the first permanent European town in the tropics.
- The isles were used by merchants, privateers and pirates as bases for the Atlantic slave trade in the 16th-17th centuries, . The economic decline came with the slavery's end in the 19th century. Eventually, Cape Verde recovered becoming an important re-supplying port (stopover) on Transatlantic cargo shipping routes. Because of its good harbor, in the 19th century Mindelo (on Sao Vicente Island) became the archipelago's largest commercial port.
- In 1951, Cape Verde was incorporated as an overseas territory of Portugal. It became an independent country in 1975. Country's capital city is Praia (on Santiago Island).
- A member of the African Union, today Cape Verde is one of the Africa's most developed and the world's most democratic countries (ranked 31st). The lack of natural resources makes its economy mostly service-oriented, the tourism and foreign investments being its leading businesses. The country's total population is around 512,000.
Cape Verde Islands are spatially divided into 2 groups (in brackets are the population numbers):
- Barlavento Islands - Boa Vista (9,000), Santo Antao (45,000), Sal (31,000), Sao Nicolau (13,000), Sao Vicente and Santa Luzia (total 80,000)
- Sotavento Islands - Brava (7,000), Fogo (37,000), Maio (7,000), Santiago (273,000)
- The islands Boa Vista, Maio and Sal are relatively flat and sandy (dry), while the rest are rockier and with more vegetation.
- The largest (as size and population) island is Santiago (area 991 km2 / 383 ml2, pop 273,000), on which is the capital city Praia.