The Cape Verde Archipelago
The ten Cape Verde islands are all volcanic and most of them are covered with vegetation, though Maio, Boa Vista and Sal are rather flat, dry and sandy. The islands cover a total area of approximately 4,000 square kilometres. The archipelago is roughly horseshoe-shaped, the open part of this horseshoe facing west. The original Portuguese name of the Islands was Ilhas de Cabo Verde, which translates as "Islands of the Green Cape". This refers to the position of the islands near the most western tip of Africa, the Green Cape of Senegal.
The Cape Verde islands are divided into two separate groups. The southern group is referred to as the Sotavento Islands, and seen from east to west consist of the islands of Maio, Santiago, Ilha do Fogo and Ilha Brava. The northern group is called the Barlavento Islands and seen counter clockwise consist of Boa Vista, Sal, Ilha de São Nicolau, Santa Luzia, Ilha de São Vicente and Santo Antão. The small landmasses between Ilha de São Nicolau and Santa Luzia are called Ilhéu Branco and Ilhéu Raso, and are not seen as separate Islands.
The southern island of Santagio is the largest of the archipelago. It hosts the capital and largest city of Cape Verde called Praia, which has a population of almost 150,000. It is the main ferry port to the country. In total Cape Verde has 500,000 inhabitants, mostly of who are of Creole origin (mixed African and Portuguese descent). Although the official language in the country still is Portuguese, especially for educational and governmental purposes, Cape Verdean Creole is the native language of almost all Cape Verdeans. This language is based on Portuguese and is spoken worldwide by over one million people.