The Republic of Cape Verde (Portuguese: CaboVerde), is a republic located on an archipelago in the Micronesia ecoregion of the North Atlantic Ocean, off the western coast of Africa. The previously uninhabited islands were discovered and colonized by the Portuguese in the fifteenth century (though there may have been earlier discoveries), and attained independence in 1975.
In 1462, Portuguese settlers arrived at Santiago and founded Ribeira Grande (now Cidade Velha), the first permanent European settlement city in the tropics. They named the islands Cabo Verde (from which the English Cape Verde derives), after the nearby Cap Vert on the Senegalese coast. In the 16th century, the archipelago prospered from the transatlantic slave trade. Pirates occasionally attacked the Portuguese settlements. Sir Francis Drake sacked Ribeira Grande in 1585. After a French attack in 1712, the city declined in importance relative to Praia, which became the capital in 1770.
With the decline in the slave trade, Cape Verde's early prosperity slowly vanished. However, the islands' position astride mid-Atlantic shipping lanes made Cape Verde an ideal location for re-supplying ships. Because of its excellent harbor, Mindelo (on the island of São Vicente) became an important commercial center during the 19th century.
Portugal changed Cape Verde's status from a colony to an overseas province in 1951 in an attempt to blunt growing nationalism. Nevertheless, in 1956, Amilcar Cabral, a Cape Verdean, and a group of Cape Verdeans and Guinean organized (in Portuguese Guinea) the clandestine African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), which demanded improvement in economic, social, and political conditions in Cape Verde and Guinea and formed the basis of the two nations' independence movement. Moving its headquarters to Conakry, Guinea in 1960, the PAIGC began an armed rebellion against Portugal in 1961. Acts of sabotage eventually grew into a war in Portuguese Guinea that pitted 10,000 Soviet bloc-supported PAIGC soldiers against 35,000 Portuguese and African troops
By 1972, the PAIGC controlled much of Portuguese Guinea despite the presence of the Portuguese troops, but the organization did not attempt to disrupt Portuguese control in Cape Verde. Portuguese Guinea declared independence in 1973 and was granted de jure independence in 1974. Following the April 1974 revolution in Portugal, the PAIGC became an active political movement in Cape Verde. In December 1974, the PAIGC and Portugal signed an agreement providing for a transitional government composed of Portuguese and Cape Verdeans. On June 30, 1975, Cape Verdeans elected a National Assembly, which received the instruments of independence fromPortugal on July 5, 1975.
The Cape Verde archipelago is located approximately 375 miles (604 km) off the coast of West Africa. It is composed of ten islands (of which nine are inhabited) and eight islets. The islands have a combined size of just over 4,000 square kilometers.
The islands are divided into the Barlavento (windward) islands (Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Luzia, São Nicolau, Sal, and Boa Vista) and the Sotavento(leeward) islands (Maio, Santiago, Fogo, and Brava). These islands are divided into 22 municipalities (concelhos) and subdivided into 32 parishes (freguesias) (see Administrative divisions of Cape Verde). The largest island, both in size and population, is Santiago, where the capital of Praia is located.
Though Cape Verde's islands are all volcanic in origin, they vary widely in terrain. A still-active volcano on the island of Fogo is the highest point on the archipelago (elevation 2,829 meters). Extensive salt flats are found on Sal and Maio. On Santiago, Santo Antão, and São Nicolau, arid slopes give way in places to sugarcane fields or banana plantations spread along the base of towering mountains.
Cape Verde’s climate is milder than that of the African mainland; because the island is surrounded by the sea, temperatures are generally moderate. Average daily high temperatures range from 25 °C (75? °F) in January to 29 °C (85 °F) in September. Cape Verde is part of the Sahelian arid belt and lacks the rainfall levels of West African countries. When it does rain, most of the rainfall occurs between August and October, with several brief, heavy downpours.
Cape Verde's isolation has resulted in the islands having a large number of endemic species, many of which are endangered by human development. Endemic birds include Alexander's Swift (Apus alexandri), Raso Lark (Alauda razae), Cape Verde Warbler (Acrocephalus brevipennis), and Iago Sparrow (Passer iagoensis), and reptiles include the Cape Verde Giant Gecko (Tarentola gigas).
Around 71 percent of the population is Creole of mixed black African and Portuguese descent. The remainder of the population is mostly black Africans, with a small number of whites. The European men who colonized Cape Verde did not usually bring wives or families with them. As female African slaves were brought to the islands, inter-marriages occurred.
More than 85 percent of the population is nominally Roman Catholic, though Catholicism is often synchronized with traditional African religions. The largest Protestant denomination is the Church of the Nazarene; other groups include the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Assemblies of God, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, and various other Pentecostal and evangelical groups. There are small Baha'i communities and a small but growing Muslim community. The number of atheists is estimated at less than 1 percent of the population.
Cape Verde's official language is Portuguese. It is the language of instruction and official acts. However, the Cape Verdeans Creole is used colloquially and is the mother tongue of virtually all Cape Verdeans. Cape Verdeans Creole or Kriolu is a dialect continuum of a Portuguese-based creole, which varies from island to island.
There is a substantial body of literature in Creole, especially in the Santiago Creole and the São Vicente Creole. Creole has been gaining prestige since the nation's independence from Portugal. However, the differences between the varied forms of the language within the islands have been a major obstacle in the way of standardization of the language.
Some people have advocated the development of two standards: a North (Barlavento) standard, centered on the São Vicente Creole, and a South (Sotavento) standard, centered on the Santiago Creole. Manuel Veiga, PhD, a linguist by training, and Minister of Culture of Cape Verde, is the premier proponent of Kriolu's officialization and standardization.
Cape Verdeans diaspora
Today, more Cape Verdeans live abroad than in Cape Verde itself, with significant emigrant Cape Verdeans communities in the United States (500,000 Cape Verdeans, with a major concentration on the New England coast from Providence, R.I., to New Bedford, Mass.), Portugal (80,000) and Angola (45,000).
There is also a significant number of Cape Verdeans in São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, France, Brazil, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Cape Verdeans populations also settled in Spain, Germany, and other CPLP countries such as Guinea-Bissau.
Cape Verdeans social and cultural patterns are similar to those of rural Portugal, but some African patterns remain. Soccer games and church activities are typical sources of social interaction and entertainment. The traditional walk around the praça (town square) to meet friends is practiced regularly in Cape Verdean towns. In towns with electricity, Cape Verdeans have access to television and watch Cape Verde’s programs on two channels (Cape Verdian and Portuguese).
Cape Verdian music incorporates Portuguese, African, and Brazilian influences. Cape Verde's quintessential national music is the morna, a melancholy and lyrical song form typically sung in Cape Verdian Creole. Other popular musical genres include The islands also boast funaná and batuque music. Amongst the most world-wide known Cape verdian singers, is the singer Cesária Évora, whose songs became a hallmark of the country and its culture.
Dance forms include the soft dance morna, and its modernized version, passada, the Funaná - a sensual mixed Portuguese and African dance, the extreme sensuality of coladeira, and the Batuque dance.
Cape Verdian literature is one of the richest of Lusitanian Africa. Famous poets include Frusoni Sergio, TavaresEugénio, and B.Léza, and famous authors include Manuel Lopes, Henrique Teixeira de Sousa, and Almeida Germano.
The Cape Verdian diet is mostly based on fish and staple foods like corn and rice. Vegetables available during most of the year are potatoes, onions, tomatoes, manioc, cabbage, kale, and dried beans. Fruits like banana and papayas are available year-round, while others like mangoes and avocados are seasonal.
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