Terrain shapes and bedrock
According to COUNTRYAAH, the islands in the isolated archipelago rise from the Cape Verde Plateau and have been formed by lifting the oceanic crust in combination with volcanic eruptions. The only now active volcano is Pico do Cano on the island of Fogo, which reaches 2 829 m above sea level. and forms a large ash and lava cone inside a caldera. The last outbreak was in 1951, when lava flowed out of a number of laterocars; earlier outbreaks took place in 1799 and 1783.
In the northern group of six larger islands, Barlavento, “the islands above the wind”, are the western high and have an uneven topography, while the two easternmost islands, Sal and Boa Vista, are flat and low.
In the southern archipelago, Sotavento, “the islands under the wind”, is also the easternmost island, Maio, low and even, while São Tiago with the peak Pico da Antonia reaches 1,392 and Brava 1,100 m above sea level.
All the islands have been greatly eroded, especially by the windblown dust, which has given them a toned appearance. The soil cover on the islands mainly consists of rock soil and other incompletely transformed soils.
According to BRIDGAT, the surrounding sea gives Cape Verde a climate of even and moderate heat. The Northeast Passage is completely predominant and often brings in desert dust from Africa at the beginning of the year, so that the sunlight is obscured. February is the coolest month with an average temperature of 22 °C, while September is the warmest with 27 °C. During August – October, an average of 20 mm of rain falls, otherwise drought prevails. Bergen receives some more rainfall, e.g. Praia on São Tiago which gets 240 mm/year.
Plant-and animal life
The higher islands that get enough rain have a vegetation of grass and shrubs (and some pine plantations), otherwise the desert or semi-desert prevails. There are about 300 species of vascular plants, of which some 90 are endemic.
The only native terrestrial vertebrate animals are a long-eared bat, several species of lizards and an African turtle (Peluʹsios suʹbniger). There are also wild goats and rodents introduced. About 110 species of birds have been observed, of which 38 are nesting. Two species of seals are endemic.
Cape Verde had no national parks or major nature reserves in 2011.