Off the western coast of Africa, almost exactly halfway between Portugal and Brazil, lies a volcanic archipelago of breathtaking natural beauty and sobering historical tragedy. The terrain ranges from barren and rocky volcanic backdrops to lush topical forests, with white and gold beaches and indigo seas. Equally varied is the cultural heritage of the islands' inhabitants, a Portuguese-African Creole with ties to the Caribbean, as much Sao Paulo and Kingston as it is Dakar and Lisbon, a fact reflected in their speech, their music, their cooking and their general outlook on life and 'morabeza', the hallmark Cape Verdean hospitality.
The 10 islands that make up the archipelago (nine of which are currently inhabited) are rather charmingly laid out in the shape of an arrow, pointing southeast towards the Senegalese coast. Sal is the main island for tourists, with the city of Santa Maria offering plenty of resorts, restaurants and fine shopping, while Sao Vicente (and in particular the city of Mindelo) is the country's cultural hub. Santiago is home to the capital, Praia, and the main port, which handles most of the commercial and passenger vessels traveling to and from the islands. Visitors would do well to explore as much of the archipelago as possible, as each island is a world unto itself, deserving of our admiration and awe.