The Republic of Cape Verde

The Republic of Cape Verde

Our What's in a name? series takes us the the Republic of Cape Verde.

The interesting fact in the name of this country is that it is named after a geographic feature that is not located in that country. Here is why.

When Portuguese sailors started to venture further and further South along the African coast, at the end of the medieval era, they noticed that after the rugged landscapes of the Saharan desert coast, they reached greener lands. The most prominent feature they encountered then was a massive promontory, which they named "o cabo verde", the green cape.

What is now known in English as Cape Verde is in fact the westernmost tip of Africa. In the 1450s, Portuguese sailors discovered a few volcanic islands about 300 nautical miles from the Cape, which they named Cape Verde Islands. As the scramble for Africa took place, the region of the Cape came under French influence as the Colony of Senegal. The Portuguese who had settled the islands maintained their administration until 1975, when they became independent as the Republic of Cape Verde, thus referencing the continental feature closest to the group.

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