NEWS

Living with volcanoes

The rugged volcanic islands of Cape Verde, off the West African coast, are much more than the glorious beaches enjoyed by tourists. Each island has its own unique character, as Martin Plaut recently discovered.

Terraced landscape in Sao Antao, Cape Verde.Image copyright
Martin Plaut

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Cape Verde has a unique landscape marked by high mountains and deep valleys – the legacy of intense volcanic activity. As a result, arable land is at a premium.

A volcano in Sao Vicente.Image copyright
Martin Plaut

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Most volcanoes such as the one in Sao Vicente are extinct, but in the nearby island of Fogo, a rare volcanic eruption occurred in 2014, forcing hundreds to flee their homes. Today, more people of Cape Verdean origin live abroad than in the country.

Women selling vegetables on a marketplace in Praia, the largest city in Cape VerdeImage copyright
Martin Plaut

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While there is not much farmland, the rich volcanic soil produces abundant fruit and vegetables for the bustling markets. However rains are scarce and water must be carefully used to ensure a harvest.

Young Cape Verdians standing by fishing boatsImage copyright
Martin Plaut

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The seas around Cape Verde have abundant fish stocks, but fishermen face pressure from Chinese and European trawlers who they accuse of causing their catches to dwindle.

A man mends a boat on the island of Santo Antao.Image copyright
Martin Plaut

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Foreign trawlers are not the only headache for fishermen. The rocky coastline of Santo Antao, with its giant waves, can be extremely dangerous.

Man Carrying fodder on the Island of Santo Antao, Cape Verde.Image copyright
Martin Plaut

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Residents who are not into fishing or farming have taken up cattle-raising and it is back-breaking work to carry fodder for livestock up the steep slopes on the islands.

A boy running past a school in Sao Antao, Cape VerdeImage copyright
Martin Plaut

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The government has invested heavily in education since independence in 1975 as a way of improving life in the country. Today, with schools even in remote villages, Cape Verde is over 70% literate.

Soldier standing guard outside the main army garrison in Praia.Image copyright
Martin Plaut

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Almost as important as attending schools, Cape Verdeans are liable for military service when they reach 18. The country recalls with pride the part it played alongside Guinea Bissau in the struggle against Portuguese colonial rule.

Tiles at municipal market, Mindelo, island of Sao Vicente.

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The country’s sense of history goes beyond its struggle for independence – this decorative panel of tiles in Mindelo commemorates the days when Cape Verde was a coaling station, supplying Britain’s navy.

Youngsters playing on a beach in Cape Verde.Image copyright
Martin Plaut

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Cape Verdeans may have it tough earning a living, but they have almost constant sunshine and a pleasant climate which makes their islands a Mecca for tourists and locals to enjoy.

Cape Verde's Presidential palace in Praia, island of Santiago.Image copyright
Martin Plaut

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In addition to having a pleasant climate, the country is a functional democracy, where access to the presidential palace is governed by regular elections.

Photographs by Martin Plaut

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-39185779

jaapschaap

March 17th, 2017

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