The former Portuguese colony of the Republic of Cape Verde is an island country 570 kilometers off the West African coast. In 1456 when the Portuguese first landed in the Cape Verde islands, they described them as being uninhabited. The official language is Portuguese and the country now supports a population of about 500,600. Independence was attained for Cape Verde in 1975 but reports show that about 38% of the population resides in rural areas with 10.6% existing below the poverty level. Since 2007, it has been classified as a developing nation. Religious preferences of the population are primarily Christian with about 10% Protestant and half of those, members of the Church of Nazarene. There are various traditions and festivals, among the most common being Christmas, Saint John and the carnival.