Of volcanic origin, Cape Verde is characterised by a lack of vegetation, which has contributed for the continuing erosion of the soil, thus influencing the physical aspect of the islands.
The Archipelago is characterised by mountainous landscapes except for the islands of Sal, Maio and Boavista that are flat with long sand beaches. As far as the hydrological basin is concerned, there is no expression.
The trade winds blowing from the African Continent that reach the country divide the islands into two groups: Barlavento, consisting of the islands of Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Luzia, São Nicolau, Sal and Boavista, and Sotavento, located a bit to the South, consisting of the islands of Maio, Santiago, Fogo and Brava.
Some altitudes in Cape Verde are well over one thousand metres, and the tip of the Volcano in the island of Fogo measures 2.829 metres.
The maritime fauna is abundant, the sea temperatures oscillate between 21º and 25º, the purity and the underwater coral platforms are valuable resources. There various kinds of permanent species of fish as well as migratory species like tuna fish (which is one of the main exported products of the sea, either fresh or canned).
Different species of marine turtles choose the most desert beaches of the Archipelago for laying their eggs and in fact one can find their habitat is in some beaches in the islands of Sal and Boavista. There are projects aimed at their protection because they are considered to be an endangered species.
A great variety of shellfish, crabs and lobster and rock barnacle is available and very much appreciated by tourists, mainly the Europeans. Shellfish with magnificent shells and coral are the delight of any collector.
Nevertheless, due to the Northeast winds that blow up to the month of July, Cape Verde benefits from better and milder climate conditions than its neighbour countries located on the same latitude.
According to data provided by the INE (National Institute of Statistics) that resulted from the last survey carried on in the year 2007, the local resident population is approximately 494.105 inhabitants. It is a young population, 42% of which is aged less than 14 years old, being 17,3 years old the general average age of the population. The density of population is of 109 inhabitants for kilometre square, and 53 Capeverdeans out of 100 live in the urban areas.
As far as education is concerned, there are a much higher number of people attending schools in the urban area, which is approximately 95%. The enrolment rate in the Primary School (6 to 14 years of age) is of 88%, and in the Secondary School (12 to 17 years of age) is around 78%. The illiteracy rate fell from 37% in 1990 to 25% in 2000.
As for health, Cape Verde has good sanitary standards, with no contagious or endemic tropical diseases and no need of vaccination before entering the country.