Fogo

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THE VOLCANO

Pico do Fogo volcano in Cape Verde

@unknown

THE VOLCANO

Pico do Fogo volcano in Cape Verde

@unknown

History

The island of Fogo was discovered in the 1460s, during the same period as the islands of Santiago and Maio. Initially known as São Filipe, it later came to be appropriately named the island of Fogo (“island of Fire”) – a rather expressive name given in honor of its imposing volcano, which is its main calling card and one of the most notable icons in all of Cabo Verde.

The island’s economy was based exclusively on the growing and harvesting of cotton, coffee and grapes, the products of which were sent to Santiago for later export and sale in Guinea and Brazil. The history of the island of Fogo prior to its emancipation is marked by contrasting periods of progress interspersed by terrible natural calamities and human horror.

In 1665, for example, the island suffered a terrible, four-day-long attack by Dutch pirates. Later, in 1719, the island’s population was hit by its first large-scale famine, followed by another in 1759. That same year saw an eruption featuring a tremendous explosion of the volcano, causing major damage on the island, especially to crops, and which caused sand and ash to rain down on nearby islands.

Currently, the island of Fogo is divided, in administrative terms, into three municipalities: São Filipe, Mosteiros and Santa Catarina, the last of which was created recently. The city of São Filipe long served as the island’s administrative center. It is a historical and well-structured city that is growing socially and economically at a relatively good pace.

Geography

Of volcanic origin and located to the west of the island of Santiago, Fogo has a total surface area of 476 km2 and boasts the highest point in all of Cabo Verde. The main peak of the volcano has an altitude of approximately 2,829 meters, with a caldera some 8 kilometers in diameter.

The walls on the western side of the caldera, known as Chã das Caldeiras, reach as high as 1,000 meters, while the main crater, on the eastern side of Chá das Caldeiras, is 500 meters wide and 180 meters deep – the fourth largest in Cabo Verde. Djarfogo, as the locals call the island, has a spontaneous, spectacular, natural, enigmatic beauty that few visitors fail to be taken in by.

The island currently has a population of nearly 40,000, while as many of its sons as daughters live abroad.

Cuisine

Traditional dishes such as djagacida (made with corn flour and beans), xerém de festa (a corn flour dish served mainly during the Bandeira festivities and at weddings, accompanied by stewed meat), cachupa, camoca (a roasted corn flour eaten for breakfast) and gufongo (a type of bread made of corn flour) are the main culinary references that merit a try by visitors.

Meals may be followed by coffee pudding or candied papaya, or by candied sweet potato or squash. Food may be enjoyed with a cold Fogo white wine, and nothing is better than a Fogo coffee, famous throughout the archipelago, to guarantee proper digestion.

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