Geography of Cape Verde

The location of Cape Verde.
Map of the Cape Verde Islands.
Mount Fogo, the highest point in Cabo Verde.
Cabo Verde satellite image.
Ribeira Torre on Santo Antão Island, Cape Verde.
Satellite image of Fogo.

Cape Verde (formally, the Republic of Cabo Verde) is a group of arid Atlantic islands which are home to a number of birds and reptiles and constitute a unique ecoregion in the World Wildlife Fund classification.

Location and description

The Cape Verde Islands are located in the mid-Atlantic Ocean some 570 km (354 mi) off the west coast of the continent of Africa. The landscape varies from dry plains to high active volcanoes with cliffs rising steeply from the ocean. The climate is arid.

The archipelago consists of ten (10) islands and five (5) islets, divided into the windward (Barlavento) and leeward (Sotavento) groups. The six (6) islands in the Barlavento group are Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Luzia, São Nicolau, Sal, and Boa Vista. The islands in the Sotavento group are Maio, Santiago, Fogo, and Brava. All but Santa Luzia are inhabited.

Three islands – Sal, Boa Vista, and Maio – generally are level and lack natural water supplies. Mountains higher than 1,280 metres (4,199 ft) are found on Santiago, Fogo, Santo Antão, and São Nicolau.

Sand carried by high winds has caused erosion on all islands, especially the windward ones. Sheer, jagged cliffs rise from the sea on several of the mountainous islands. The lack of natural vegetation in the uplands and coast also contributes to soil erosion. Only the interior valleys support natural vegetation.