Cape Verde


Cape Verde

The Republic of Cape Verde is a republic located on an archipelago in the Macaronesia ecoregion of the North Atlantic Ocean, off the western coast of Africa. The previously uninhabited islands were discovered and colonized by the Portuguese in the fifteenth century and attained independence in 1975.

Background History

The uninhabited islands were discovered and colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th century; Cape Verde subsequently became a trading center for African slaves and later an important coaling and resupply stop for whaling and transatlantic shipping. Following independence in 1975, and a tentative interest in unification with Guinea-Bissau, a one-party system was established and maintained until multi-party elections were held in 1990. Cape Verde continues to exhibit one of Africa's most stable democratic governments. Repeated droughts during the second half of the 20th century caused significant hardship and prompted heavy emigration. As a result, Cape Verde's expatriate population is greater than its domestic one. Most Cape Verdeans have both African and Portuguese antecedents.



Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Republic of Cape Verde
  • conventional short form: Cape Verde
  • local long form: Republica de Cabo Verde
  • local short form: Cabo Verde


  • name: Praia
  • geographic coordinates: 14 55 N, 23 31 W
  • time difference: UTC-1 (4 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)


  • 5 July 1975 (from Portugal)

Government Type:

  • republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Jorge Carlos Fonseca (since 9 September 2011)
  • head of government: Prime Minister Jose Maria Pereira Neves (since 1 February 2001)
  • elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 7 August 2011 with a second round runoff on 21 August 2011; prime minister nominated by the National Assembly and appointed by the president

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: unicameral National Assembly

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Supreme Tribunal of Justice; Court of Audit; Military Courts; Fiscal and Customs Courts


People & Society


  • 538,535 (global rank: 173)
  • growth rate: 1.39% (global rank: 87)


  • noun: Cape Verdean(s)
  • adjective: Cape Verdean

Major Cities:

  • Praia (capital): 132,000

Ethnic Groups:

  • Creole (mulatto) 71%, African 28%, European 1%



  • Roman Catholic 77.3%, Protestant 3.7% (includes Church of the Nazarene 1.7%, Adventist 1.5%, Universal Kingdom of God .4%, and God and Love .1%), other Christian 4.3% (includes Christian Rationalism 1.9%, Jehovah's Witness 1%, Assembly of God .9%, and New Apostolic .5%), Muslim 1.8%, other 1.3%, none 10.8%, unspecified 0.7%


  • Portuguese (official), Crioulo (a blend of Portuguese and West African words)

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 71.57 years (global rank: 145)
  • male: 69.32 years
  • female: 73.89 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 24.28 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 76)
  • male: 27.82 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 20.63 deaths/1,000 live births


  • adult prevalence rate: 0.2% (global rank: 110)
  • people living with AIDS: 800 (global rank: 152)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 84.9%
  • male: 89.7%
  • female: 80.3%



The economy is service-oriented with commerce, transport, tourism, and public services accounting for about three-fourths of GDP. Tourism is the mainstay of the economy and it is heavily dependent on conditions in the euro zone countries. This island economy suffers from a poor natural resource base, including serious water shortages exacerbated by cycles of long-term drought and poor soil for agriculture on several of the islands. Although about 40% of the population lives in rural areas, the share of food production in GDP is low. About 82% of food must be imported. The fishing potential, mostly lobster and tuna, is not fully exploited. Cape Verde annually runs a high trade deficit financed by foreign aid and remittances from its large pool of emigrants; remittances supplement GDP by more than 20%. Despite the lack of resources, sound economic management has produced steadily improving incomes. Continued economic reforms are aimed at developing the private sector and attracting foreign investment to diversify the economy and mitigate high unemployment. Future prospects depend heavily on the maintenance of aid flows, the encouragement of tourism, remittances, and the momentum of the government's development program. Cape Verde became a member of the WTO in July 2008.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $2.222 billion (global rank: 190)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $4,400 (global rank: 167)
  • real growth rate: 1.5% (global rank: 162)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 9.3%, industry: 18.8%, services: 71.9%


  • currency: Cape Verdean Escudo (CVE)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 84.18


  • unemployment rate: 21%
  • population below poverty line: 30%

Agricultural Products:

  • bananas, corn, beans, sweet potatoes, sugarcane, coffee, peanuts; fish


  • food and beverages, fish processing, shoes and garments, salt mining, ship repair

Export Commodities:

  • fuel, shoes, garments, fish, hides

Import Commodities:

  • foodstuffs, industrial products, transport equipment, fuels





  • Western Africa, group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Senegal


  • total: 4,033 sq km (global rank: 176)
  • land: 4,033 sq km
  • water: 0 sq km
  • comparative: slightly larger than Rhode Island


  • temperate; warm, dry summer; precipitation meager and erratic

Land Use:

  • arable land: 11.66%
  • permanent crops: 0.74%
  • other: 87.59%

Natural Resources:

  • salt, basalt rock, limestone, kaolin, fish, clay, gypsum

Current Environmental Issues:

  • soil erosion; deforestation due to demand for wood used as fuel; water shortages; desertification; environmental damage has threatened several species of birds and reptiles; illegal beach sand extraction; overfishing



Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: none
  • illicit drugs: used as a transshipment point for Latin American cocaine destined for Western Europe, particularly because of Lusophone links to Brazil, Portugal, and Guinea-Bissau; has taken steps to deter drug money laundering, including a 2002 anti-money laundering reform that criminalizes laundering the proceeds of narcotics trafficking and other crimes and the establishment in 2008 of a Financial Intelligence Unit

Published: Friday, February 27, 2015