|Map source: Sandgrains, a film about resource depletion in Cape Verde|
This map is more accurate than the current
Google map of the islands, which includes a major error.
One interesting connection that we often mention to EarthView participants is also relevant to the life of Pope Francis, who was elected last week to lead the Roman Catholic church. He was born as Jorge Mario Borgoglio in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1936. His father had been born in Italy, as were earlier generations on his mother's side.
How does this relate to Cape Verde? As with the new pope's family, many workers had migrated from Italy to Argentina in the early twentieth century to work in railroads, steel, and other industries. All of that migration, of course, was by ship, but by the 1930s Italy's dictator Mussolini was interested in an air connection and needed a convenient refueling stop. Cape Verde's first international airport was built by Italy on the island of Sal (meaning Salt) in 1939.
The location at Sal was chosen for several geographic reasons. First, Cape Verde is situated near the direct route from Rome to Buenos Aires (click to enlarge the map below, and you will see that Cape Verde is just to the northeast of the path). Second, the site characteristics of the island of Sal include flat topography in comparison to the other islands. Third, Cape Verde was a territory of Portugal, at that time headed by Mussolini's fellow dictator, Salazar.
|Click to enlarge. Get more flight paths from|
|The Space Shuttle never landed in Cape Verde, but the long runway at|
Sal was among its designated emergency landing strips.
Both of the routes shown on the Atlantic map above are Great Circle routes, which always represent the most direct route between two points. On a globe, such routes can be found by holding a string on both points, pulling it snug. Inside EarthView, we can represent them with our laser pointers. On most flat maps, these direct paths are represented as curves, sometimes with surprising results. Airline routes sometimes differ from great-circle paths because of prevailing winds or storms, but planning usually begins by calculating the shortest distance.