Culture of Cape Verde

Cape Verde has a rich history and has its own specific culture. The former Portuguese colony is a mix of different ethnical groups and their culture. You'll find aspects from the Portuguese, African, Carribean and Brazilian culture. Cape Verdeans decend from Portuguese, African and other ancestors. They are genetically seen the most varied nation worldwide. The mix made a special culture, and even though the country is small, it has a large influence on the music industry with many great artists and worldwide known dances. 

Music & dance 

Cape Verde is worldwide known for some great, famous artists such as Cesária Évora, Mayra Andrade, Cordas do Sol, Lura, Sarah Tavares and Nelson Freitas. The current music styles are based on morna, funana and batugue. Morna is one of the most famous styles. You could say it's a variation of the Portuguese fado, with music sung from the heart. Thanks to the worldstar Cesária Evora with her hit 'Sodade' almost everyone has heard a morna song. The saying that the Cape Verdean islands have more artists per square meter than any other country shows us the musical strength of the country. If you walk past a local bar with some live music, it's always worth stopping for a drink to experience the local music and feeling.  


You won't have to search too hard to experience the music, you'll hear it almost everywhere you go. Every occasion will go along with music and its emotions and are often outed in the culture through singing and dancing. Cape Verde has a diversity of different dances like zouk (kizomba), funana and batuque. Kizomba and Kuduro find their origin in Angola, but were integrated in the Cape Verdean dance culture. 

Art & literature 

The different art styles got a strong influence from Africa and different European countries. The Cape Verdean painting is very popular and are made quite often with pottery and sculptures. The literature belongs to one of the strongest of all Portuguese speaking countries. Eugénio Tavares is one of the best known poets of the country. His works and thoughts go along with the emotions of morna.

Festivals & carnival 

Not only is the country known for its music and dance, the culture has got a lot of local festivities as well. Cape Verdean people love a good party of which the most important one of the year; carnival. The most beautiful carnival is in Mindelo on São Vicente island. The whole town is turned upside down and the atmosphere reminds us of the carnival in Brazil. The prettiest parade floats drive through the centre with a lot of dressed up people dancing on top of them. The event is built around colour, music and dance and is increasing in size every year. 

We can tell that the Cape Verdeans love music and dance by the big amount of festivals, concerts and local festivities. They have jazz, pop and traditional music festivals all over the islands every year. 


Like the people, the food & drinks are a mix of many influences, with most of the products coming from their own land and the ocean. Cape Verdeans love to eat warm meals, also in the morning. The most typical dish is called 'Cachupa' and consists of different types of beans and corn cooked together with meat or fish in a big pan. For dinner people eat cachupa Guisado, which looks like a thick soup. The leftovers are fried up in the pan for breakfast and usually served with an egg to have a strong start of the day. 

Grogue and Ponche are the local rums made of sugar cane. The sugar cane is processsed in a press called a trapiche. The special taste in the sugar cane comes from the volcanic soils it grows on. Most grogue factories are on Santo Antão and Santiago. Grogue is the pure rum and to make ponch they add lime, sugar and honey. Another known drink is Caïpirinha, a cocktail that has its origin in Brazil where they make it with cachaça. The Cape Verdian variant is made with grogue, lots of lime and sugar. 


The soil on Fogo island is quite fertile because of its volcanic origine. Coffee and grapes are planted on the volcano slopes. Wines and coffee from Fogo are served a lot on the other islands as well. Coffee is always a nice souvenir to bring back home.