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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Cape Verde

Cape Verde - Consular Information Sheet
March 19, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Republic of Cape Verde consists of nine inhabited and several uninhabited volcanic islands off the west coast of Africa. Most are rugged and mountainous; three (Sal, Maio, and Boa Vista) are flat, desert islands with sand beaches. The capital city of Praia is located on the island of Santiago. Cape Verde International Airport is located on the island of Sal, 100 miles north of the capital. While the tourist industry is bringing ever-growing numbers of tourists, facilities on most islands remain limited. Cape Verde enjoys a stable, democratic government. The national language is Portuguese.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required. Travelers should obtain further information from the Embassy of the Republic of Cape Verde, 3415 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington D.C. 20007, telephone (202) 965-6820, or the Consulate General of Cape Verde in Boston. Overseas, inquiries should be made to the nearest Cape Verdean embassy or consulate.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: U.S. citizens should avoid crowds, political and street demonstrations, and maintain security awareness at all times.

CRIME: Petty thievery, especially in market areas, and burglary are common. Violent crime is on the rise, but it is still very low by regional standards.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The pamphlets, A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa, provide useful information on personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region in general. Both are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are limited, and some medicines are unavailable. Travelers should bring their own supplies of prescription drugs and preventive medicines. Further information on prescription drugs is found in the section on import/export restrictions.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties.

Please check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation, and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Cape Verde is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance : Poor

The Cape Verdean authority responsible for road safety is Direccao Geral dos Transportes Rodoviarios in the Ministry of Sea, Transport and Tourism. Most inter-city travel is by private automobile, taxi and vans. The van service can be hazardous due to the recklessness and excessive speed of many van drivers. Taxis at hotels offer reasonably dependable service. City buses in Praia are very old, break down frequently and are usually overcrowded. Ambulance service is available in Santiago, Sao Vicente, Sal, Fogo and Ribeira Grande on Santo Antao. There is only one ambulance on each island and limited emergency medical care. There is no organized system of roadside assistance.

Cape Verde has an extensive road system. Paved roads on most islands are narrow, winding and almost always paved with cobblestones. Cobblestone roads are extremely slippery when wet, and many are in poor repair. Roads and streets are often unlit, and driving at night can be hazardous. The Peace Corps restricts volunteers in Cape Verde from driving on the roads after dark.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Cape Verde Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Cape Verde's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone (618) 229-4801.

IMPORT AND EXPORT RESTRICTIONS: Airport police and customs officials routinely inspect incoming and outgoing luggage. Travelers in possession of prescription drugs should carry proof of their prescriptions, such as labeled containers. Police have been known to arrest foreigners carrying unlabeled pills. For a complete list of prohibited items, please contact the nearest Cape Verdean embassy or consulate.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Cape Verdean law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Cape Verde are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children, international parental child abduction, and international child support enforcement issues, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

EMBASSY LOCATION/REGISTRATION: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy at Rua Abilio M. Macedo 81, C.P. 201, Praia, telephone (238) 61-56-16 or 17, fax (238) 61-13-55, and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Cape Verde. The U.S. Embassy is located on the island of Santiago; currently the only international flights that land on this island are from Dakar, Senegal. The main international airport is on the island of Sal, a 35 minute flight from Praia.

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated April 21, 2000 to update the sections on Medical Insurance and Traffic Safety and Road Conditions.

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