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Cape Verde - Enviornment

Cape Verde Environment

The Cape Verde islands are in the Atlantic Ocean, 620km (385mi) west of West Africa's coast at Mauritania. There are 10 major islands (9 of them inhabited) and 5 islets, all of volcanic origin and grouped into the Barlavento (Windward) group (Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Luzia, Ilheu Branco, Ilheu Raso, São Nicolau, Sal and Boa Vista) to the north and the Sotavento (Leeward) group (Maio, São Tiago, Fogo and Brava) to the south.

The interior of the main island, São Tiago, is mountainous, and Fogo has the islands' highest peak, Mt Fogo (2840m/9320ft). Fogo was rocked by a volcanic eruption in 1995; there have been seven such eruptions since 1760. Many of the islands are arid and hilly, and cultivation of the hillsides has caused widespread soil erosion. Santo Antão has the highest rainfall and tends to be much greener than the other islands.

Common plants in the islands include rhododendrons, the fire tree, dragon tree, marmulano, corn plant and the Florida Beauty dracaena.

Among the islands' most colourful fauna are its coral and fish, especially in the waters around Sal, where you'll see parrot fish, barracuda and moray eels. You might also spot blue and humpback whales, the narrow-snouted dolphin, harbour porpoise and loggerhead, green and hawksbill turtles. The Raza Island lark, Cape Verde petrel, brown booby, frigatebird, tropicbird and Cape Verde warbler are among the birds winging around the archipelago. Creepy crawlies include the Cape Verde skink and the giant Cape Verde gecko.

Cape Verde has the coolest temperatures of any country in West Africa. Daily highs range from 20°C (68°F) to around 29°C (84°F) from August to October, when there can also be rainstorms. Due to ocean currents, the sea is also considerably chillier than along the West African coast.

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