The Cape Verde (Cabo Verde) archipelago is located in the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 570 kilometres (350 mi) off the coast of West Africa, near Senegal, the Gambia and Mauritania, and is part of the Macaronesia ecoregion.


It lies between latitudes 14° and 18°N, and longitudes 22° and 26° W.

The country is a horseshoe-shaped cluster of ten islands (nine inhabited) and eight islets, that constitute an area of 4033 km².

 

The largest island, both in size and population, is Santiago, which hosts the nation’s capital, Praia, the principal agglomeration in the archipelago.

 

Cape Verde’s strategic location at the crossroads of mid-Atlantic air and sea lanes has been enhanced by significant improvements at Mindelo’s  harbour (Porto Grande) and at Sal’s and Praia’s international airports.
A new international airport was opened in Boa Vista in December 2007, and on the island of Sao Vicente, the newest international airport (Sao Pedro Airport) in Cape Verde, was opened in late 2009.

 

Ship repair facilities at Mindelo were opened in 1983. The major ports are Mindelo and Praia, but all other islands have smaller port facilities. In addition to the international airport on Sal, airports have been built on all of the inhabited islands. All but the airports on Brava and Santo Antao enjoy scheduled air service.

The archipelago has 3,050 km (1,895 mi) of roads, of which 1,010 km (628 mi) are paved, most using cobblestone

 

The islands are spatially divided into two groups:

The Barlavento Islands (windward islands): Santo Antao, Sao Vicente, Sao Nicolau, Sal, Boa Vista

The Sotavento Islands (leeward): Maio, Santiago, Fogo, Brava

 

CAPE VERDE'S CLIMATE is milder than that of the African mainland, because the surrounding sea moderates temperatures on the islands and cold Atlantic currents produce an arid atmosphere around the archipelago. Conversely, the islands do not receive the upwellings (cold streams) that affect the West African coast, so the air temperature is cooler than in Senegal, but the sea is warmer, because the orographic relief of some islands, such as Santiago with steep mountains, cover it with rich woods and luxuriant vegetation where the humid air condenses and soak the plants, rocks, soil, logs, moss, etc.

On the higher islands and somewhat wetter islands, exclusively in mountainous areas, like Santo Antão island, the climate is suitable for the development of dry monsoon forest, and laurel forest as this vegetation.

 

Average daily high temperatures range from 26 °C in February to 31 °C in September. Cape Verde is part of the Sahelian arid belt, with nothing like the rainfall levels of nearby West Africa. It rains irregularly between August and October, with frequent brief heavy downpours.

A desert is usually defined as terrain that receives less than 250 mm of annual rainfall. Sal's total of 145 mm confirms this classification. Most of the year's rain falls in September.Sal, Boa Vista and Maio have a flat landscape and arid climate, the remaining ones are generally rockier and have more vegetation. Because of the infrequent occurrence of rainfall the landscape is arid.

 

The archipelago can be divided into four broad ecological zones — arid, semiarid, subhumid and humid, according to altitude and average annual rainfall ranging from 200 millimetres in the arid areas of the coast to more than 1,000 millimetres in the humid mountain. Most rainfall precipitation is due to condensation of the ocean mist.In some islands, as Santiago, the wetter climate of the interior and the eastern coast contrasts with the dryer one in the south/southwest coast. Praia, on the southeast coast, is the largest city of the island and the largest city and capital of the country. Because of their proximity to the Sahara, most of the Cape Verde islands are dry, but on islands with high mountains and farther away from the coast, by orography, the humidity is much higher, providing a rainforest habitat, although much affected by the human presence.

 

Northeastern slopes of high mountains often receive a lot of rain while southwest slopes do not. These umbria areas are identified with cool and moisture. Western Hemisphere-bound hurricanes often have their early beginnings near the Cape Verde Islands. These are referred to as Cape Verde-type hurricanes. These hurricanes can become very intense as they cross warm Atlantic waters away from Cape Verde. The average hurricane season has about two Cape Verde-type hurricanes, which are usually the largest and most intense storms of the season because they often have plenty of warm open ocean over which to develop before encountering land.

The five largest Atlantic tropical cyclones on record have been Cape Verde-type hurricanes. Most of the longest-lived tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin are Cape Verde hurricanes. The islands themselves have only been struck by hurricanes twice in recorded history (since 1851): once in 1892, and again in 2015 by Hurricane Fred, the easternmost hurricane ever to form in the Atlantic.

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Blaise Menuet - Managing Director 

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