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Sao Vicente ©www.caboverde.com
Only six hours flying time from the major airports of Europe, the volcanic Cape Verde archipelago, lying in the Atlantic Ocean off the bulge of Africa, is rapidly emerging as an inspiring holiday destination for those seeking something different.
The nine inhabited islands are bursting with their own individual character and unique musical culture, besides offering plenty of opportunities for relaxation or active pursuits. The rapidly developing island of Sal is particularly popular, with long white sandy beaches luring European beach buffs and watersports enthusiasts. The main tourist town, Santa Maria, near the international airport, is earning its place on the global map as a surfing destination, and also as a major draw for windsurfers and kite surfers, with its trade winds and winter swells.
A former Portuguese colony, Cape Verde has made remarkable strides after idependence to ensure that it is one of Africa's most politically and economically stable nations. Despite a lack of natural resources Verdeans have managed to focus their economy on the service industry, particularly tourism.
Most visitors utilise the inter-island ferries or domestic airline to explore more than just one of these ruggedly beautiful islands, each of which has unique sights or experiences to offer. Sao Vicente is the cultural hub of the archipelago, and it is here that visitors will encounter the music and nightlife for which Cape Verde has become rightly famous. Fogo and Brava are littered with volcanoes, while Sal and Mayo offer pristine beaches and undulating dunes.
The country code is +238. The outgoing code is 0 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 044 for the United Kingdom). City codes are not required. The archipelago's main cities can be reached by International Direct Dialling. A GSM 900/1800 mobile network is in operation throughout the islands; coverage is good in most towns. Internet is available in the main towns and major hotels offer laptop connections.
Emergencies: 132 (police); 130 (ambulance); 131 (fire).
The official language is Portuguese and a patois known as Crioulo.
Travellers to Cape Verde are permitted the following items without incurring customs duty: 200 cigarettes, 1 litre of alcohol, a reasonable amount of perfume or eau de cologne and some gift items. The import or export of narcotics is strictly prohibited.
Electrical current is 220 volts, 50 Hz. Round two-pin attachment plugs and Schuko plugs are used.
The tropical climate of Cape Verde is tempered by trade winds, with temperatures remaining constant most of the year. Temperatures average between 78°F and 86°F (26°C - 30°C) year-round, but it can get hotter on the flatter islands or inland. The weather does vary slightly from island to island in the archipelago, depending on each island's geography and location. There is almost uninterrupted sunshine from November to May but the winds usually keep the heat bearable.
The wind can be strong in Cape Verde and although it is great for making waves for surfing, it is also important to note that visitors should pay attention to the lifeguard warnings and flags for their own safety when the surf is powerful. The rainy season is during August, September and October; the amount of rain is rather unpredictable and Cape Verde has suffered severe droughts in the past. When it does rain the showers can be dramatic and sudden. The sea temperatures are lovely and warm which adds to Cape Verde's popularity.
The best time to visit the islands is between March and June (the best waves for surfers are found from April to June).
Visitors of any nationality require a passport, valid for the period of intended stay, to enter the Cape Verde Islands. We recommend that passports be valid for six months after intended period of travel.
US citizens require a valid passport. A visa can be obtained on arrival. All documents must be valid for six months after the arrival date.
UK citizens require a valid passport. A visa can be obtained on arrival. All documents must be valid for six months after the arrival date.
Canadians require a valid passport. A visa can be obtained on arrival. All documents must be valid for six months after the arrival date.
Australians require a valid passport. A visa can be obtained on arrival. All documents must be valid for six months after the arrival date.
South Africans require a valid passport. A visa can be obtained on arrival. All documents must be valid for six months after the arrival date.
Irish nationals require a valid passport. A visa can be obtained on arrival. All documents must be valid for six months after the arrival date.
New Zealand nationals require a valid passport. A visa can be obtained on arrival. All documents must be valid for six months after the arrival date.
A yellow fever vaccination is required for those arriving from an infected area. No other vaccinations are required for travel to Cape Verde, but vaccinations are recommended for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid, and it is generally advised that all travellers be up to date on vaccinations for MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and tetanus-diphtheria. Malaria medication is recommended for travel to the island of Sao Tiago. Outbreaks of Brucellosis are occasionally reported.
Water is unsafe to drink without prior treatment, and milk is unpasteurised. Medical facilities are limited and some medicines are in short supply. Visitors should receive free hospital treatment in general hospitals on presenting their passports, but health insurance is strongly advised, with coverage for emergency repatriation. If you require prescription medication for your holiday it is ideal to bring it with you; make sure you have the necessary documents from your doctor to get the medication through customs.
Visits to Cape Verde are usually trouble free. The political situation is stable and the crime rate is low. The only danger is presented by occasional hazardous sea conditions around the islands.
Emergency Phone Number
Emergencies: 132 (police); 130 (ambulance); 131 (fire).
* For current safety alerts, please visit Foreign travel advice - GOV.UK or Travel.State.Gov
The unit of currency is the Cape Verdean Escudo (CVE), broken down into 100 centavos. As this is a local currency it cannot be obtained before arrival and cannot be reconverted outside of Cape Verde. There is a bureau de change at the airport. ATMs can be found at the airport and in Sal, Praia and Sâo Vincent. Major credit cards, particularly MasterCard and Visa are currently accepted in a few main resort hotels and restaurants. Banks will give cash on credit cards but commissions are high.
Exchange RateNot available.
Embassies of Cape Verde
Cape Verde Embassy, Washington DC, United States (also responsible for Canada): +1 202 965 6820.
Cape Verde Consulate, London, United Kingdom: +44 7876 232305.
Cape Verde Embassy, The Hague, Holland (responsible for Ireland): +31 00 355 36 51.
Foreign Embassies in Cape Verde
United States Embassy, Praia: +238 260 8900.
British Consulate, Sao Vincente: +238 232 3512.
Canadian Embassy, Dakar, Senegal (also responsible for Cape Verde): +221 33 889 4700.
South African Embassy, Dakar, Senegal (also responsible for Cape Verde): +221 33 865 1959.
Cape Verdeans are friendly and hospitable, however there are a few local customs in Cape Verde that visitors should be aware of. Eating in front of others without sharing your food is considered rude, therefore eating in public is not generally done. A handshake is generally a proper greeting, but on occasion women may kiss on the cheek. People tend to stand close together when speaking, and may touch each other platonically. Casual dress is acceptable in most situations.
Business in Cape Verde is conducted in Portuguese or English. Most of Cape Verde's business links are with Portugal. Business hours are generally 8am to 12:30pm and 2:30pm to 6pm, Monday to Friday.
At least 10 percent tip should be given if no service charge has been added to the bill, and tips should be in local currency.
Public Holidays in Cape Verde
Map of Cape Verde
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