Cape Verde

Flag of Cape Verde

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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.


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

Geographic coordinates:

16 00 N, 24 00 W


total: 4,033 sq km
land: 4,033 sq km
water: 0 sq km

Land boundaries:

0 km


965 km

Maritime claims:

measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


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


steep, rugged, rocky, volcanic

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Mt. Fogo 2,829 m (a volcano on Fogo Island)

Natural resources:

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

Land use:

arable land: 11.41%
permanent crops: 0.74%
other: 87.85% (2005)

Irrigated land:

30 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

prolonged droughts; seasonal harmattan wind produces obscuring dust; volcanically and seismically active

Environment - current issues:

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

Geography - note:

strategic location 500 km from west coast of Africa near major north-south sea routes; important communications station; important sea and air refueling site


420,979 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 37.9% (male 80,594/female 79,126)
15-64 years: 55.3% (male 113,450/female 119,423)
65 years and over: 6.7% (male 10,542/female 17,844) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 19.8 years
male: 19 years
female: 20.7 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.64% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

24.87 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

6.55 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

-11.91 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.95 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.59 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 46.52 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 51.63 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 41.26 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 70.73 years
male: 67.41 years
female: 74.15 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

3.38 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.035% (2001 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

775 (2001)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

225 (as of 2001)


noun: Cape Verdean(s)
adjective: Cape Verdean

Ethnic groups:

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


Roman Catholic (infused with indigenous beliefs); Protestant (mostly Church of the Nazarene)


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


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 76.6%
male: 85.8%
female: 69.2% (2003 est.)

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

Government type:




Administrative divisions:

17 municipalities (concelhos, singular - concelho); Boa Vista, Brava, Maio, Mosteiros, Paul, Praia, Porto Novo, Ribeira Grande, Sal, Santa Catarina, Santa Cruz, Sao Domingos, Sao Filipe, Sao Miguel, Sao Nicolau, Sao Vicente, Tarrafal


5 July 1975 (from Portugal)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 5 July (1975)


new constitution came into force 25 September 1992; underwent a major revision on 23 November 1995, substantially increasing the powers of the president; a 1999 revision created the position of national ombudsman (Provedor de Justica)

Legal system:

derived from the legal system of Portugal


18 years of age; universal

Legislative branch:

unicameral National Assembly or Assembleia Nacional (72 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 22 January 2006 (next to be held in January 2011)
election results: percent of vote by party - PAICV 52.3%, MPD 44%, UCID 2.7%; seats by party - PAICV 41, MPD 29, ADM 2

Judicial branch:

Supreme Tribunal of Justice or Supremo Tribunal de Justia

Economy - overview:

This island economy suffers from a poor natural resource base, including serious water shortages exacerbated by cycles of long-term drought. The economy is service-oriented, with commerce, transport, tourism, and public services accounting for 66% of GDP. Although nearly 70% of the population lives in rural areas, the share of agriculture in GDP in 2004 was only 12%, of which fishing accounted for 1.5%. 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 emigrants; remittances supplement GDP by more than 20%. Economic reforms are aimed at developing the private sector and attracting foreign investment to diversify the economy. Future prospects depend heavily on the maintenance of aid flows, the encouragement of tourism, remittances, and the momentum of the government's development program.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$2.99 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$1.128 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

5.5% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$6,200 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 12.1%
industry: 21.9%
services: 66% (2004 est.)

Unemployment rate:

21% (2000 est.)

Population below poverty line:

30% (2000)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

1.8% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

26.4% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $328.1 million
expenditures: $393.1 million; including capital expenditures of $NA (2005 est.)

Agriculture - products:

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


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

Electricity - production:

44.15 million kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

41.06 million kWh (2003)

Oil - consumption:

1,200 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Current account balance:

-$147.7 million (2005 est.)


$73.35 million f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

fuel, shoes, garments, fish, hides

Exports - partners:

Portugal 59%, US 17.1%, UK 11.3% (2004)


$500 million f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

foodstuffs, industrial products, transport equipment, fuels

Imports - partners:

Portugal 42.1%, US 12.4%, Netherlands 8.4%, Spain 5.3%, Italy 4.2%, Brazil 4.1% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$152.2 million (2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$325 million (2002)

Economic aid - recipient:

$136 million (1999)

Currency (code):

Cape Verdean escudo (CVE)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

73,400 (2005)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

65,800 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: effective system, extensive modernization from 1996-2000 following partial privatization in 1995
domestic: major service provider is Cabo Verde Telecom (CVT); fiber optic ring, completed in 2001, links all islands providing Internet access and ISDN services; cellular service introduced in 1998
international: country code - 238; 2 coaxial submarine cables; HF radiotelephone to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 0, FM 22 (and 12 low power repeaters), shortwave 0 (2002)

Television broadcast stations:

1 (and 7 repeaters) (2002)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

155 (2005)

Internet users:

25,000 (2005)


note: 3 airports are reported to be nonoperational (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 6
over 3,047 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 5 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2005)


total: 1,350 km
paved: 932 km
unpaved: 418 km (2000)

Merchant marine:

total: 6 ships (1000 GRT or over) 10,719 GRT/7,482 DWT
by type: cargo 2, chemical tanker 1, passenger/cargo 3
foreign-owned: 2 (Spain 1, UK 1) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Mindelo, Praia, Tarrafal

Military branches:

People's Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARP): Army, Coast Guard (includes maritime air wing)

Disputes - international:


Illicit drugs:

used as a transshipment point for illicit drugs moving from Latin America and Asia destined for Western Europe; the lack of a well-developed financial system limits the country's utility as a money-laundering center