The Cape Verde islands is a beautiful archipelago located in the Atlantic Ocean, close to the coast of Senegal. The country consists out of 10 islands, of which 9 are habited. The islands are very different from eachother, which is exactly what makes Cape Verde an interesting travel destination. These differences can be found in size, population, landscape and local culture.
In this article we're taking a closer look at the population of the islands.
The two largest islands
Cape Verde's largest islands are Santiago and Santo Antão. Santiago is home to more than half of the country's population (550.000), and the island of capital city Praia. The capital has grown to a city of 160.000 people, twice as much as the second biggest city of Cape Verde, Mindelo. The third biggest city of Cape Verde is also located on the island of Santiago.
Assomada, located on the islands's beautiful interior, has a population of around 50.000 people today. Part of Santiago's population is made up out of people from the other islands in the south. Neighbor Maio has a current population of just around 7000 people, partially due to people moving to the big cities of Santiago in search of opportunities.
Where Santiago's population keeps on expanding, that of Santo Antão seems to be diminishing. Santo Antão and small neighbor São Vicente are seperated by a canal, which can be crossed within an hour by ferry. Although Santo Antão is a much larger island, São Vicente has a population that is twice as big.
Santo Antão's diminishing population is about 40.000. São Vicente's 80.000 population is historically mostly made out of people from both Santo Antão and São Nicolau. Mindelo's Porto Grande harbour was the reason for the island's growing population many years ago. Up until this point the island of São Vicente was the last island of Cape Verde to be permanently populated.
The islands of Sal and Boa Vista have changed a lot in recent years. Their importance in Cape Verde's tourism sector has caused people to move there in search of work. This has led to both islands seeing a fast increase of its population, which in turn leads to issues on the housing market.
Cape Verde is a small country with limited resources. The country has had very though times throughout its history, with periods of severe drought. Large groups of people saw immigration as a way to built a better life elsewhere, while dreaming of returning home one day.
The United States has a large Cape Verdean community, estimated to be around the same size of the entire population of Cape Verde today. Immigration to the US started as early as the beginning of the 1900's, when people from Brava and Fogo would work for companies passing through these islands while on the hunt for whales.
There are also large Cape Verdean communities in countries such as Senegal, Portugal and The Netherlands. The city of Rotterdam is home to 30.000 Cape Verdeans, something that is tied to the city having one of the most important ports in the world. São Tome & Principe also has a Cape Verdean population.
The reason here was the farms owned by Portugese colonizers where Cape Verdeans would find very low paying work in difficult living conditions. In times of drought and poverty people from different islands saw it as the only way out. Many of them still live on these farms to this day.
This diaspora has always played an important part in the development of the country. As soon as possible Cape Verdeans around the world would send money back home to family. People also invested heavily in different sectors, such as construction.
The Cape Verdean population outside of Cape Verde is a few time larger than within the country borders. In different countries Cape Verdeans have earned a reputation for being honest, hardworking people. But its population also moves internally seeking jobopportunities. This has seen cities such as Praia and Mindelo growing faster than ever, while islands such as Santo Antão and Maio face a declining population.
Hi, I'm Freddy, the creator of the MindeloCaboVerde.com blog. Thank you so much for reading! Please feel free to message me if you have any questions.