Tourism in Cape Verde, a group of islands off the coast of Senegal, started in the 1970s on the island Sal and increased slowly in the 1980s and 1990s. Tourism contributed $41 million to the country's economy in the year 2000. The hotel industry contributed 2. 0% to GDP in 1997, which increased to 6. 8% in 2001. The number of tourists increased from approximately 45, 000 in 1997 to more than 115, 000 in 2001 and to more than 382. 831 thousands in 2010 according to the official Cape Verdean statistics . Most of these tourists were from the United Kingdom (26. 1%), Germany (15. 8%), Portugal (12. 8%), and about 11. 9% of the tourists came from Italy. The vast majority of tourists visit the comparatively flat and scarcely populated islands Sal, Maio and Boa Vista with their white sandy beaches. The islands of Cape Verde have a pleasant climate during most of the year with 350 days of sunshine, and some of them offer an impressive mountain scenery as well. Diving, windsurfing, sailing and trekking are available to tourists. Some ecotourism is developing on the island of Fogo around the volcano Pico do Fogo. For tourists interested in cultural topics, the town of Cidade Velha on the Island of Santiago which was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1997, is worth a visit, but cultural tourism has not been particularly promoted up to now.
Cape Verde experiences warm temperatures year-round. However, there is a rainy season from August to October when rainfall is unpredictable. The coolest months are December to March. The best time to visit Cape Verde is from February to June, when the days are long and sunny.
The official language of the islands is Portuguese, which is used in newspapers and anything that is written, however Creole is more used as the spoken language. Creole is based on African languages but with additions from several European languages. Even this can differ from island to island.
Cape Verdean food is an enticing mixture of Creole, Portuguese and African flavours. The islands have a wealth of seafood which is often cooked straight from the sea. The influx of tourists is causing an increasing number of quality restaurants to open up.
• Canja (a thick chicken soup with rice).
• Catchupa (a slow boiled stew of corn, beans, vegetables and marinated tuna).
• Fruits include goiabas, zimbrão, tambarinas, marmelos, azedinhas, tamaras and cocos.
• Aguardiente (sugar cane rum).
• A San Antao liqueur made from coffee, cinnamon, fig leaf, peppermint, orange or lime.
• Manecome (local wine from Fogo).
The Republic of Cape Verde is an island country, spanning an archipelago of 10 islands located in the central Atlantic Ocean, 570 kilometres off the coast of Western Africa. The islands, covering a combined area of slightly over, are of volcanic origin and while three of them (Sal, Boa Vista and Maio) are fairly flat, sandy and dry, the remaining ones are generally rockier and have more vegetation. However, because of the infrequent occurrence of rainfall the overall landscape is not particularly green, despite what the country's name suggests (verde is Portuguese for "green"). The name of the country stems instead from the nearby Cap Vert, on the Senegalese coast, Lobban,. which in its turn was originally named "Cabo Verde" when it was sighted by Portuguese explorers in 1444, a few years before the islands were discovered.
The previously uninhabited islands were discovered and colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th Century, and became an important location in the Atlantic slave trade due to their geographically advantageous position. The islands' prosperity often attracted pirates including Sir Francis Drake, a corsair under the British crown, who twice sacked the (then) capital Ribeira Grande, in the 1580s. The islands were also visited by Charles Darwin's expedition in 1832. The decline in the slave trade in the 19th century resulted in an economic crisis. With few natural resources and without strong sustainable investment from the Portuguese, the people grew increasingly discontent with the colonial masters, who nevertheless refused to provide the local authorities with more autonomy. This discontent festered and culminated in 1975, when a movement led by Amílcar Cabral achieved independence for the archipelago.
The country has an estimated population (most of it of creole ethnicity) of about 500, 000, with its capital city Praia accounting for a quarter of its citizens. Nearly 38% of the population lives in rural areas according to the 2010 Cape Verdean census; about 20% lives below the poverty threshold, and the literacy rate is around 85%. Politically, the country is a very stable democracy, with notable economic growth and improvements of living conditions despite its lack of natural resources, and has garnered international recognition by other countries and international organizations, which often provide development aid. Since 2007, Cape Verde has been classified as a developing nation.
Tough economic times during the last decades of its colonization and the first years of Cape Verde's independence led many to migrate to Europe, the Americas and other African countries. This migration was so significant that the number of Cape Verdeans and their descendants living abroad currently exceeds the population of Cape Verde itself. Historically, the influx of remittances from these immigrant communities to their families has provided a substantial contribution to help strengthen the country's economy. Currently, the Cape Verdean economy is mostly service-oriented with a growing focus on tourism and foreign investment, which benefits from the islands' warm climate throughout the year, diverse landscape, welcoming people and cultural richness, especially in music.
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