The Cape Verde archipelago consists of 10 islands—ranging from flat as a pancake to steeply volcanic—that lie in the Atlantic some 570 kilometers (350 miles) west of Senegal. For a country in the middle of nowhere, it’s been a center of commerce since the 16th century. Long before the Portuguese colony gained its independence in 1975, and ever since as well, Cape Verdeans have taken their seafaring and fishing skills far and wide, most notably to Lisbon, Rotterdam and New England, all of which have populations of immigrants from the country. They have also traveled with their enormously popular music, sharing it with audiences around the world who are touched by the melancholy rhythms and thrilled by its danceable African beats. On the largest island of Santiago, which is also one of the archipelago’s least visited, Praia has not yet experienced the boom in high-rise offices that some other African capitals have. In the central area called Plateau, the colonial National Archives and the recently renovated Presidential Palace sit alongside faded Art Deco buildings. If Praia lacks a certain commercial bustle, it still has a spirited street vibe, and visitors can hear residents speak melodious Portuguese Creole and enjoy live music by dropping into bars and restaurants.