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Cultural Norms and Rules in Cabo Verde


Traveling to a new country is an exciting adventure, but it’s important to respect the rules and cultural norms of the place you’re visiting. Not only does this demonstrate a level of respect for the local community, but it also helps you avoid any legal trouble or cultural misunderstandings. In this article, we will explore the rules and cultural norms of Cabo Verde, a beautiful archipelago off the northwest coast of Africa. By being aware of these key elements, you can ensure a smoother and more enjoyable trip to this stunning destination.

Key Elements

Dress Code

Cabo Verde is a conservative country, especially in rural areas, so it’s important to dress modestly. Revealing clothing, such as short skirts, tank tops, or swimwear, should be reserved for the beaches and swimming pools. When visiting towns and villages, it’s best to wear lightweight, breathable clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. This shows respect for the local culture and helps you blend in.

Greetings and Etiquette

Cabo Verdeans are friendly and hospitable, and greetings play an important role in their culture. When meeting someone for the first time, it is customary to shake hands and maintain eye contact. Remember to greet people with a smile and a warm “Bon dia” (Good morning), “Boa tardi” (Good afternoon), or “Boa noite” (Good evening), depending on the time of day. It is also polite to exchange pleasantries and inquire about the other person’s well-being before diving into any business matters.

Respect for Elders

Respect for elders is deeply ingrained in Cabo Verdean culture. It is customary to show deference and treat older individuals with the utmost respect. When addressing an older person, use “Senhor” for men and “Senhora” for women, followed by their last name. If you are unsure of someone’s age, it is best to err on the side of caution and address them formally.

Public Etiquette

Cabo Verdeans value politeness and consideration for others in public spaces. It is customary to give up your seat to elderly, pregnant, or disabled individuals when using public transportation. Avoid loud or disruptive behavior and try to keep noise levels to a minimum, especially in more residential areas. Additionally, smoking is prohibited in most indoor public spaces, so it is important to be mindful of designated smoking areas.


Tipping is not mandatory in Cabo Verde, but it is appreciated for exceptional service. If you feel that you have received excellent service at a restaurant or from a taxi driver, a small tip of about 5-10% of the total bill is a nice gesture. However, it’s important to note that some higher-end establishments may include a service charge in the bill, so it’s worth checking before leaving an additional tip.

Environmental Conservation

Cabo Verde is renowned for its natural beauty, and the protection of the environment is a priority for both locals and visitors. It is important to follow the principles of ecotourism and practice responsible travel. This includes not leaving any trash behind, avoiding activities that harm the local flora and fauna, and respecting protected areas and wildlife. By being mindful of the environment, you can help preserve the natural wonders of Cabo Verde for future generations to enjoy.

Tips for Traveling

  1. Research and Familiarize Yourself: Before your trip, take the time to research Cabo Verde’s culture, customs, and laws. Understanding the country’s history and traditions will help you show respect and appreciation during your visit. Familiarize yourself with the local language, Portuguese, as it will be helpful for basic communication.

  2. Follow Local Laws: It is essential to respect the laws of the land when traveling to Cabo Verde. Be aware of any specific regulations, such as restrictions on photography in certain areas or the consumption of drugs. Ignorance of the law is not a valid excuse, so familiarize yourself with the legal requirements to avoid any legal trouble.

  3. Learn Basic Phrases: While many Cabo Verdeans can speak English in more touristy areas, knowing a few basic phrases in Portuguese can go a long way in terms of cultural understanding and building connections. Simple greetings, “please,” “thank you,” and “goodbye” will be appreciated by the locals and can help you navigate everyday interactions.

  4. Respect Religious Sites and Customs: Cabo Verde is predominantly Catholic, and religious sites hold significant importance to the local population. When visiting churches or other religious sites, dress modestly and behave respectfully. Avoid taking pictures unless it is explicitly allowed, and never disturb ongoing religious ceremonies or services.

  5. Seek Permission: When taking photographs of individuals, particularly locals, it is courteous to ask for permission first. Not everyone may feel comfortable being photographed, and some cultures have specific beliefs regarding photography. Being considerate and asking for consent shows respect for the local people and their personal boundaries.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided in this article is for informational purposes only. It is always best to consult official sources and seek professional advice regarding specific laws, regulations, and cultural norms when traveling to Cabo Verde.