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Cape Verde



Republic of Cape Verde

República de Cabo Verde


FLAG: The flag consists of two white horizontal stripes above and below a red horizontal stripe in the lower half of a blue field. A circle of ten gold stars (representing major islands) is centered around the red stripe on the hoist side.

ANTHEM: É Patria Amada (This Is Our Beloved Country).

MONETARY UNIT: The Cape Verde escudo (cve) is a paper currency of 100 centavos. There are coins of 20 and 50 centavos and 1, 2½, 10, 20, and 50 Cape Verde escudos, and notes of 100, 500, and 1,000 Cape Verde escudos. cve1 = $0.01238 (or $1 = cve80.78) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is used.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; National Heroes' Day, 20 January; Women's Day, 8 March; Labor Day, 1 May; Children's Day, 1 June; Independence Day, 5 July; Assumption, 15 August; Day of the Nation, 12 September; All Saints' Day, 1 November; Immaculate Conception, 8 December; Christmas Day, 25 December.

TIME: 10 am = noon GMT.


Cape Verde, containing an area of 4,033 sq km (1,557 sq mi), is situated in the Atlantic Ocean about 595 km (370 mi) west of Dakar, Senegal. Comparatively, the area occupied by Cape Verde is slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island. Extending 332 km (206 mi) senw and 299 km (186 mi) nesw, it consists of 10 islands and five islets, divided into a northern windward group (Barlavento)Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Luzia (uninhabited), São Nicolau, Sal, Boa Vista, and two isletsand a southern leeward group (Sotavento)Brava, Fogo, São Tiago, Maio, and three islets. The total coastline is 965 km (600 mi).

Cape Verde's capital city, Praia, is located on the southeastern coast of São Tiago Island.


The island chain is of volcanic origin. Fogo has the only active volcano, Pico do Cano (Mount Fogo), which reaches 2,829 m (9,281 ft) above sea level, the highest point in the nation. Peaks on Santo Antão and São Tiago reach 1,979 m (6,493 ft) and 1,392 m (4,567 ft), respectively. All but three of the islands are quite mountainous, with prominent cliffs and deep ravines. High ground and southwestern slopes support lush vegetation because of moisture condensation. Only four islands have year-round running streams. Mindelo on São Vicente is the principal port, but there are several other fine harbors.


A cold Atlantic current produces an arid atmosphere around the archipelago. There are two seasons: DecemberJune is cool and dry, with temperatures at sea level averaging 21°c (70°f); JulyNovember is warmer, with temperatures averaging 27°c (81°f). Although some rain comes during the latter season, rainfall is sparse overall. Accumulations are generally around 13 cm (5 in) annually in the northern islands and 30 cm (12 in) in the south. The archipelago is subject to cyclical droughts; a devastating drought began in 1968 and was broken only briefly in 1975, 1978, 1984, and 1986.


There are trees typical of both temperate and tropical climates, depending on elevation. The only native mammal is the long-eared bat.


Much of the land used for raising crops or livestock is too arid or steep for these purposes, resulting in soil erosion. Drought contributes to Cape Verde's land problems along with cyclones, volcanic activity, and insect infestation. The intense demand for wood as fuel has led to the virtual elimination of native vegetation. By 1978, nearly all indigenous plants in farmed areas and within a half-day's walk of small villages had been removed. The land and water supply is adversely affected by insecticides, pesticides, and fertilization. In 2000, about 74% of the population had access to safe drinking water. A resource still almost untapped is an estimated 8090 million cu m of underground water, but the investment required to exploit it would be very large in relation to Cape Verde's resources.

According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the number of threatened species included 3 types of mammals, 4 species of birds, 14 species of fish, and 2 species of plants. Endangered species in Cape Verde included the Mediterranean monk seal, the northern bald ibis, the green sea turtle, and the hawksbill turtle.


The population of Cape Verde in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 476,000, which placed it at number 161 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 6% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 42% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 92 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population growth rate for 20052010 was expected to be 2.3%, a rate the government viewed as too high. The government is focusing its concerns on adolescent fertility, since much of the country's reproductive health services are provided through foreign aid, which was declining significantly as of 2006. The projected population for the year 2025 was 692,000. The population density was 118 per sq km (306 per sq mi).

The UN estimated that 53% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 3.16%. The capital city, Praia, had a population of 107,000 in that year. Mindelo, on São Vicente, had the second-largest population after Praia.


Economic development has not kept pace with rapid population growth. This factor, in combination with the prolonged drought, has produced a sizable outflow of emigrants. By the early 1990s there were some 600,000 Cape Verdean emigrants in the United States, Europe, Latin America, and other African countries. Some 325,000 were in the United States alonemostly in New England. Remittances to Cape Verde from emigrants enabled many of those who remained in the islands to survive the drought. In 1998, Cape Verde received some 2,000 refugees from Guinea-Bissau when violence erupted there. Of these, about 1,500 left for other countries. At the end of 1998, some 500 refugees remained at two refugee centers, Trinidad and San Jorginho. Between May and August 1999, 500 refugees returned to Guinea Bissau. In 2002 Cape Verdean remittances were an estimated $72 million, or about 13% of GDP. In 2005, the estimated net migration rate for Cape Verde was -11.99 migrants per 1,000 population.


About 71% of the inhabitants of Cape Verde are Creole, descendants of Portuguese colonists and their African slaves, who came, most often, from what is today Guinea-Bissau. Another 28% of the inhabitants are entirely African. There is a small minority (12%) of Europeans on the islands.


Portuguese is the official language, but Crioulo, an archaic Portuguese dialect with a pronunciation that reveals African influences, is the spoken language of Cape Verde.


About 85% of the population of Cape Verde are nominally Roman Catholic. Protestant churches account for a small percentage with the largest denomination being the Church of the Nazarene. Other denominations include the Seventh-Day Adventists, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Assemblies of God, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, and various Pentecostal and evangelical groups. There are also small groups of Muslims and Baha'is. Several African traditional religions are practiced, especially on São Tiago, with some traditional elements infused in other religions. Though there is no state religion, the Catholic Church seems to enjoy a somewhat privileged status, including officially observed religious holidays. The constitutional right of freedom of religion is generally respected in practice. All associations, religious and secular, must register with the Ministry of Justice in accordance with the Law of Associations.


There are about 1,350 km (840 mi) of roadway on the islands, of which some 1,053 km (655 mi) were paved in 2002. In 1997, Cape Verde had 30 vehicles per 1,000 population. Commercial transportation is largely by coastal craft and domestic airlines. The ports of Mindelo on São Vicente and Porto Novo on Santo Antão are important as international fueling stops. The state-owned Companhia Nacional de Navigacao runs an interisland ferry service. As of 2005, the merchant fleet of Cape Verde consisted of five ships of 1,000 GRT or over, totaling 5,395 GRT. In November 1990, the IBRD announced the complete rehabilitation of two deepwater berths at Praia Port, which can now provide modern cargo handling techniques.

In 1975, the international airport on Sal was renamed the Amilcar Cabral International Airport, in honor of the former nationalist leader of the African Party for the Independence of GuineaBissau and Cape Verde. It is an important refueling point on many African flights with the second longest runway in Africa. In 2001, 242,800 passengers embarked or disembarked at Amilcar Cabral. There are smaller airports on seven islands. In 2004 there were seven airports, with three reported to be nonoperational. In 2005, six of them had paved runways. A new airport is under construction in Praia and will accommodate mid-sized jet aircraft. The national airline is Air Transport of Cape Verde, which began service to Lisbon in 1985 and Boston in 1987.


Parts of the Cape Verde Islands were probably discovered in about 1455 by António da Noli, a Genoese, who was in service to Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal (Henrique o Navegador); the islands showed no signs of any previous human settlement, although new excavations in Sal Island might suggest earlier visitors. In 1462, São Tiago was the first island to receive permanent settlers. Plantation agriculture was established by the Portuguese community and worked by African slaves, who were brought in from the nearby Upper Guinea coast. There was a population of slaves, and free Africans and a population of Crioulos on the islands from this early period, and they retain strong, but complex cultural ties with the African mainland.

The islands produced trade goods; especially important were cattle, cotton cloths (panos ) made by slave women, and rum (grog ). These goods were used to purchase slaves and consumer items from slavers trading in the African interior as well as engage in the slave trade to the New World. The economy of the islands suffered from colonial restrictions on the production of potentially competitive export commodities, as well as from cyclical drought. Between 1747 and 1960, an estimated 250,000 Cape Verdeans died of famine.

The phase out of the Atlantic slave trade and the abolition of slavery in the Portuguese Empire, coupled with an 1886 law providing for the settlement of former Cape Verde slaves on open lands, brought the end of Cape Verde's importance as a slave-trading center. The islands' historical role as a port of call (prior to the building of the Suez Canal) became important again in the mid-20th century, when they were used by Portuguese troops as a transit area for their African counter-insurgency campaigns. For five centuries, the Portuguese were strong enough to keep the archipelago as a colony until the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo VerdePAIGC) took power on 5 July 1975. This Cape Verdean-led movement was engaged in 11 years of armed struggle in Guinea-Bissau (1963-1974) until this precipitated a military coup in Portugal in April 1974. In turn this resulted in Portuguese decolonization in Africa, and an independence agreement was signed between Portuguese and PAIGC representatives on 30 December 1974, leading to the establishment of the two linked, but independent republics: the Republic of Guinea-Bissau on 24 September 1974 and the Republic of Cape Verde on 5 July 1975.

Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissauwhere Luís de Almeida Cabral, a Cape Verdean, was presidentwere politically unified until a military coup in Guinea-Bissau toppled Cabral in November 1980. The Cape Verde wing of PAIGC subsequently broke its links with the mainland and temporarily abandoned the goal of unification and became known as the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV), dropping the G representing Guiné (the Portuguese designation for Guinea-Bissau). Diplomatic relations with Guinea-Bissau, severed at the time of the coup, were resumed in June 1982.

After 15 years of single-party rule by the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV), dissidents agitated to legalize an opposition party in 1990. A hastily assembled opposition coalition, the Movement for Democracy (MPD), won the 13 January 1991 parliamentary elections with 68% of the votes and 56 out of 79 seats in the National Assembly. In February, an independent candidate, António Mascarenhas Monteiro, defeated the incumbent, Aristides Pereira, for the presidency with 72.6% of the vote. The governmental transition went smoothly and without violence. President Mascarenhas cooperated with the prime minister, Dr. Carlos Wahnon de Carvalho Veiga, and his party (MPD), who formed the government.

In 1992, the new constitution came into force, and the government began to privatize state-run industries. In 1994, during an MPD party conference, two leading politicians split with the party and formed the Party for Democratic Convergence (PCD). Legislative elections were again held in 1995, with the MPD winning 50 of the 72 seats (the assembly had been shrunk since the 1991 balloting). The PAICV won 21 seats and the PCD won one seat. On 18 February 1996, Monteiro was reelected to the presidency, and Veiga retained his post as prime minister.

On 11 and 25 February 2001, Pedro Pires (PAICV) was very narrowly elected president, and inaugurated on 22 March 2001. On 8 December 2005, president of the Parliament Aristides Raimundo Lima became acting president per a constitutional requirement that Pedro Pires suspend his duties of office while he ran in the 2006 election; Pires won reelection in February 2006. In 2001, Pires was elected president with 49.43% of the vote to 49.42% of the vote for Carlos Veiga of the MPD; by 2006, support for Pires had increased, to 51.2% to 48.8% for Veiga. The next presidential election was scheduled for February 2011. José Maria Pereira Neves has been prime minister since 1 February 2001; in January 2006 elections, PAICV won 52.3% and 41 seats to MPD's 44% and 29 seats. The next parliamentary election was scheduled for January 2011 with the main contenders again being the PAICV and the MPD.


According to the 1980 constitutionthe nation's firstthe Republic of Cape Verde was a one-party state, under the guidance of the PAIGC; this party was replaced by the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (Partido Africano da Indepêndencia do Cabo VerdePAICV) in January 1981, after the coup in Guinea-Bissau. The secretary-general of the PAICV and president of the republic, Aristides Maria Pereira, was elected to national office by the People's Assembly, the national legislative body. He was elected to a second five-year term in January 1986. He was replaced in a popular election on 17 February 1991, by President Monteiro.

The prime minister, who heads the government, is nominated by the Assembly, and appointed by the president. The Council of Ministers is appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister. Presently, the unicameral National Assembly or Assembleia Nacional consists of 72 seats with members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms.

The constitution was amended on 28 September 1990 to legalize opposition parties and revised again in 1992. It underwent a major revision on 23 November 1995, substantially increasing the powers of the president, and a further revision in 1999, to create the position of national ombudsman (Provedor de Justiça). It guarantees human rights and includes the principle of the separation of powers, a market-based economy, and individual rights and liberties. Multiparty democracy has peacefully prevailed ever since.


The African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (Partido Africano da Independência do Cabo VerdePAICV) was the sole legal political party from 1975 until 1990. On 28 September 1990, the constitution was amended to legalize opposition parties. In the parliamentary elections held 13 January 1991, the PAICV was defeated by the Movement for Democracy (MPD), which garnered 68% of the vote. Through the 1990s and into the early 21st century, PAICV was the opposition in the National Assembly. In 1993 and 1994, divisions within the MPD led to the resignation of key members and the emergence of a new party, the Party for Democratic Convergence (PCD). In the 1995 legislative elections, the MPD won 50 seats; the PAICV, 21; and the PCD, 1. Assembly elections were held 22 January 2006 with the PAICV strengthening its position, obtaining 52.3%, the MPD 44%, and the Democratic and Independent Cape Verdean Union (União Caboverdeano Independênte e DemocráticaUCID), 2.7%. The number of seats held by party was PAICV 49, MPD 29, and other 2. The next parliamentary election was scheduled for January 2011.


The islands are divided into 17 districts (conçelhos ) and 31 freguesias, which are subdivisions of conçelhos. The conçelhos are: São Nicolau, Sal, Boa Vista, Maio, Brava, São Vicente, Praia, Tarrafal, Santa Cruz, Santa Catarina, Ribeira Grande, Porto Novo, Paúl, Calheta, Mosteiros, São Domingos, and São Filipe. There are local elections for the officials of these administrative units.


In the colonial period, Cape Verde was subject to the Portuguese civil and criminal codes. Most provisions of these codes remain in effect. A Supreme Tribunal of Justice hears appeals from subregional and regional tribunals. Informal popular tribunals serve as courts of the first instance for minor disputes.

The 1992 constitution provides for a judiciary independent from the executive branch. The Supreme Tribunal (Court) of Justice has a minimum of five members, one appointed by the president, one appointed by the National Assembly, and three appointed by the Supreme Council of Magistrates. The Ministry of Justice and Labor appoints local judges.

Criminal defendants are presumed innocent and have the right to counsel, to public, nonjury trial, and to appeal.


Active armed forces personnel numbered 1,200 in 2005. Of these, 1,000 were in the Army which consisted of two battalions. The Coast Guard, which numbered an estimated 100 personnel, had two patrol boats. The Air Force had up to 100 personnel, but had no combat aircraft. The military budget totaled $6.8 million in 2005.


On 16 September 1975, the Republic of Cape Verde was admitted to the United Nations. It belongs to the ECA and several nonregional specialized agencies. It is also a member of the African Development Bank, the ACP Group, ECOWAS, G-77, the African Union, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). Cape Verde is an observer in the WTO and part of the Nonaligned Movement. In environmental cooperation, Cape Verde is part of the Basel Convention, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the London Convention, the Montréal Protocol, and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change, and Desertification.


Commerce, transport, and public services accounted for 72% of GDP in 2001. Tourism was regarded as one of the most important growth sectors for the islands, along with transportation infrastructure. Construction was also thriving in the early 2000s. Only 11% of the GDP was accounted for by agriculture and fishing in 2001, which supplies the country's export market. Tuna and lobster are the main fishing products. Bananas, maize, and beans are key crops, with cassava, sweet potatoes, coconuts, dates, and sugar cane also produced on small, low-technology farms for domestic consumption. Cape Verde is drought-prone, and less than 10% of food requirements are met by local producers. Salt, pozzolana (a volcanic rock used in cement production), and limestone are mineral resources.

Remittances from Cape Verdeans living abroad supplemented GDP by more than 20% in 2002. The government established tax incentives to attract emigrants' investment in Cape Verdean enterprises. Total debt in 2001 amounted to almost half of the country's annual GDP. Cape Verde runs a high trade deficit.

Perhaps Cape Verde's most important asset is its strategic economic location. It is an important refueling location for international air (Amilcar Cabral International Airport on the island of Sal) and ocean traffic (at the port of Porto Grande, at Mindelo on São Vicente Island). In 1997, a four-year World Bank-sponsored project designed to upgrade the port facilities at Porto Grande was completed. Two new ports were also built on the islands of Maio and Boa Vista.

The government aimed to develop the private sector, liberalize trade, and attract foreign investment in 2003. Political stability and transparency have helped Cape Verde's economic development. The World Bank in 2002 funded a study of the potential of Cape Verde's light industrial manufacturing sector.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Cape Verde's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $3.0 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $6,200. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 5.5%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 1.8%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 12.1% of GDP, industry 21.9%, and services 66%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $92 million or about $196 per capita and accounted for approximately 11.5% of GDP.

It was estimated that in 2000 about 30% of the population had incomes below the poverty line.


The unemployment rate stood at an estimated 21% in 2001. There is no data on the size of Cape Verde's labor force or its occupational breakdown.

All workers are free to form and join unions of their choosing without interference from the government. About 22% of the country's workforce was unionized. The government generally respects the worker's right to strike, but this right has been limited at times by the government if an emergency situation or essential services might be affected.

The law sets the minimum work age at 16, but child labor is a problem. Minors under the minimum age cannot work at night, over seven hours per day, or in places that produce toxic products. However, enforcement by the government is rare.

Although there is no established minimum wage for the private sector, most private employers pay their workers what an entry-level government official would make, approximately $146 per month in 2005. However this is inadequate to support a family and most workers rely upon extended family help or second jobs. The legal workweek is limited to 44 hours for adults, with 12 consecutive hours per week for rest and premium rates of pay for overtime. Larger employers generally respect this restriction, but agricultural and domestic laborers work longer hours.


The most widespread agricultural activity of the islands is gardening for domestic consumption. Garden crops include corn, cassava, sweet potatoes, and bananas. Only about 11.2% of the land area is suitable for crop production. Frequent droughts often exacerbate an ongoing water shortage. Agriculture employed about 21% of the active population and contributed 15% to GDP in 2003. Estimated 2004 production figures were sugarcane, 14,000 tons; corn, 14,000 tons; bananas, 6,000 tons; coconuts, 5,000 tons; mangoes, 4,500 tons; cassava, 3,000 tons; and potatoes, 3,500 tons. Only the islands of São Tiago, São Vicente, São Nicolau, and Santo Antão have conditions suitable for raising cash crops. Bananas, the only agricultural export, are grown on irrigated land. Sugarcane, another cash crop, is used on the islands to produce rum.

Agriculture has been the focus of development aid programs since the 1960s, but progress has been frustrated by drought, locusts, overgrazing, and archaic cultivation methods. Approximately 8590% of food needs are met by imports; agricultural imports had a value of $112.8 million in 2004.

The PAIGC nationalized a few large-scale irrigated agricultural operations and began a program of land reform and cooperative agriculture; sharecropping was abolished. During 197680, 7,200 rainwater dikes were built. Torrential rains in 1984 destroyed much of this work, but by 1986, 17,000 dikes and 25,000 stone retaining walls had been completed. There has been little land redistribution, despite a 1982 law distributing farms over five hectares (12.5 acres)1 hectare (2.5 acres) if irrigatedamong the tenants if the land is not directly farmed by the owners.


Periodic droughts have significantly lowered the capacity of the islands to pasture livestock. In 2004 there were an estimated 205,000 pigs, 112,500 goats, 22,500 head of cattle, 14,500 asses, 9,500 sheep, and 1,850 mules. Total meat production in 2004 was 8,554 tons (up from 5,000 tons in 1996), with pork accounting for over 80%.


The cold Canaries current, running adjacent to the islands, is an ideal environment for many kinds of marketable fish, and the fishing and fish-processing industries in the islands offer the best potential for expansion. São Vicente and Brava each have processing plants, and a fish-freezing plant was opened at Mindelo in 1991. The total catch in 2003 was 8,721 tons, entirely from marine fishing. Maritime resources are under-exploited; of the estimated 50,000 tons of fish, lobster, and other marine products available for harvest, only some 1,500 tons of marine products reach the market annually, either for domestic consumption or export.


Forests on the island have been cut down for fuel, and the drought damaged many wooded areas. Large-scale reforestation is under way as part of a program of water-resource development. There are about 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) of forest plantations. A total of 4.3 million trees were planted during 197883. Roundwood production in 2003 was 2,000 cu m.


Mining's contribution to Cape Verde's economy was minimal, and the geological potential of the islands remained largely unexplored. Pozzolana (a volcanic rock used in pulverized form in the manufacture of hydraulic cement) from four mines on Santo Antão and salt were the only minerals exploited commercially, salt being a leading industry. In 2004, around 1,600 metric tons of salt was produced. Sal and Boa Vista had sea-salt refineries and deposits of calcareous rocks, used in paving, building ornaments, and tile production. There were also deposits of kaolin, clay, gypsum, and basalt.


In 2001, the islands produced and consumed 0.04 billion kWh of electricity, entirely from thermal sources. Installed capacity totaled about 0.007 GW as of 1 January 2001. Electra, the public electricity utility, maintains thermal power plants on Praia, Mindelo, and Sal; local councils operate 12 rural power plants. Ten wind generators of 30 kW each were in operation on Mindelo in 1991. Because Cape Verde has no known crude oil reserves, or oil refining capacity as of 1 January 2003, the country must import all of its petroleum products. In 2002, petroleum imports and consumption both totaled 8,870 barrels per day. The country has no known production or consumption of natural gas, as of 2001, and as of 1 January 2003, there are no known natural gas reserves


After 1993, the industrial sector in Cape Verde was born, with garment and shoe production factories. Industry accounted for about 18% of GDP in 2000 and dipped to 17% in 2001. Besides the salt refining, Cape Verdean manufactures include frozen and canned fish, tobacco, bread and biscuits, and soft drinks. Rum is produced from locally grown sugarcane. The government announced in 2002 that it was launching an initiative to increase investment in infrastructure, which will aid the construction industry. The African Development Bank granted Cape Verde a $3.3 million loan to finance its economic reform programs that year, including privatizing industries. Also in 2002, the government announced that an Italian company was going to undertake oil exploration on the island of Santo Antão.


No information is available.


As of 2003, over 70% of the economy was based on the service sector, with commerce, transportation, and public services as the strongest segments. However, the majority of the workforce lives and works in the rural sector employed in agriculture or fishing, which accounted for only about 10% of the GDP in early 2003. Most consumer goods are imported and sold or distributed in the major centers of Praia and Mindelo by EMPA, a state wholesale-retail company that controls the prices of many basic consumer goods. Nearly 20% of the GDP is supported by remittances from expatriates.

The GDP growth rate has fluctuated modestly in recent years. In 1993 the GDP was put at $ 410 million growing at 3.5% per year, or about $1,000 per capita. By 1995 it had risen further to $1,569, which is certainly low by European standards, but is likely the highest for West Africa. Eleven years later, in 2004 it dipped to 3.3% per year, with inflation at 4 % or about $1,770 per capita. Data for 2005 again put the GDP growth rate at 3.4% annually. Despite the increase in per capita income, the effects of inflation substantially curbed the buying power and the level of unemployment is put at about 30% of the work force. Another measure of this predicament is that cell phone usage is expanding rapidly relative to neighboring Africa, but it is far from the density one finds in Europe. Also indicative of this problematic economy is that the majority of Cape Verde's population can be classified as rural, but the low yield and subsistence agriculture contributes only 20% of the GDP.

Since 1991, the government has pursued economic policies that promote privatization and a market economy. In particular, the government seeks ways to encourage foreign investment and to expand the important tourist sector.

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 9.8 247.8 -238.0
Portugal 7.7 113.5 -105.8
United States 1.7 8.0 -6.3
Senegal 0.1 0.9 -0.8
Germany 0.1 7.8 -7.7
Mauritania 0.1 0.1
() data not available or not significant.

Business hours for banking, government, and industry are 8 am to 12 noon and 2 pm to 6 pm. Commercial/retail hours are generally from 8 am to 12:30 pm and 3 pm to 7 pm. Some establishments are open on Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm.


Cape Verde has been increasingly dependent upon imports, especially foodstuffs and manufactured goods, a situation that has led to a severe trade imbalance. Chronic drought exacerbates the problem. About 90% of food had to be imported in 1999. In 2002 Cape Verdean exports were $218 million. Imports to Cape Verde rose from $173 million in 1992 to $237 million 2000.

Major commodity export items were traditionally bananas, fish, and now also include garments and shoes. Cape Verde's fishing resources were estimated to contain a potential of 43,000 to 50,000 tons per year, but only one-third of these resources were utilized in 1999. Other exports include transport containers, shoes, and garments. About half of Cape Verde's trade was done with Portugal in 1999.

Current Account -77.3
     Balance on goods -291.1
        Imports -344.0
        Exports 52.8
     Balance on services 20.8
     Balance on income -16.7
     Current transfers 209.7
Capital Account 21.1
Financial Account 5.6
     Direct investment abroad
     Direct investment in Cape Verde 14.8
     Portfolio investment assets
     Portfolio investment liabilities
     Financial derivatives
     Other investment assets -7.2
     Other investment liabilities -2.0
Net Errors and Omissions -5.4
Reserves and Related Items 56.0
() data not available or not significant.


Cape Verde's massive annual trade deficit is only partially offset by remittances from Cape Verdeans employed abroad. Annual payment deficits were substantial and could be met only through foreign assistance. The average import growth rate between 1990 and 1995 was 14%, compared to a GDP growth rate of 4%. Debt in 2000 reached $301 million. Due to foreign investment, largely in free-zone enterprises, exports rose during the 1990s and early 2000s. In 1992, banana, lobster, and fresh and frozen fish accounted for 92% of the country's exports, led by banana exports. In contrast, in 1999, shoe parts, shoes, and garments accounted for 76% of exports, led by shoe exports.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported that in 2001 the purchasing power parity of Cape Verde's exports was $273 million while imports totaled $218 million resulting in a trade surplus of $55 million. In 1999, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that Cape Verde had exports of goods totaling $26 million, and imports totaling $241 million. By 2001 the value of exports had risen modestly to $27.3 million, and the value of imports had decline to $218 million. The services credit totaled $106 million and debit $117 million.


The Banco de Cabo Verde (BCV, Bank of Cape Verde) was the central bank before 1993, also acting as a commercial and development bank. This organization was supplemented by the Caixa Economica de Cabo Verde (CECV), a savings bank. Liberalization in September 1993 caused the division of the BCV into a central bank, which was privatized in 1999, and a commercial bank called the Commercial Bank of the Atlantic (BCA), which is still majority-state owned. In March 1993, the financial market was opened for private and foreign banks, as long as at least 50% of the workers were Cape Verdean nationals.

In 1999, four Portuguese banks opened offices in Cape Verde: Totta and Acores, Caixa Geral de Depositos, Banco Nacional Ultramarino (BNU), and Banco Mello. The first totally private bank opened in 1999, the Banco Interatlantico.

The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $170.0 million. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $363.4 million.

In early October 1996, the Ministry of Economic Coordination held a conference in Praia to consider opening a stock exchange. With the help of GARSEE, a World Bank institution, the Capital Markets Implementation Committee was created (Comissão Instaladora do Mercado de Capitáis). The committee established the first stock exchange in March 1999 in Praia. The president of the Lisbon Stock Exchange, José Lemos, assisted GARSEE with the $500,000 project. Operations were not expected to begin until the end of 1999.


There are two insurance companies in Cape Verde.


About 44% of the 1998 Cape Verdean budget of $229 million was allocated to economic reforms (continued privatization), and natural resource, infrastructure, and social development. The government has supported market-oriented policies since about 1991, trying to attract foreign investment.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Cape Verde's central government took in revenues of approximately $328.1 million and had expenditures of $393.1 million. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$65 million. Total external debt was $325 million.


There are substantial tax incentives for foreign investors in Cape Verde. There is a consumption tax on nonpriority goods, ranging between 5% and 60% for hard liquor. In 2003, a 15% value added tax (VAT) was introduced.


Cape Verde is a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). In 1991, import tariffs were organized into a system of 10 ad valorem rates ranging between 5% and 50%. There is a customs tax of 7% and a consumption tax on luxury items ranging from 560%. There are no export controls. The import of narcotics is prohibited and pharmaceuticals can only be imported by the government.


Prior to 5 July 1975, Portuguese corporations were the principal investors in the islands. On that date, foreign corporate landholdings were nationalized by the government. During the 1990s, the shipbuilding and repair yard at Mindelo was jointly owned by the government and Portuguese investors; the fish-freezing plant was jointly owned by the government and Dutch investors; and the clothing factory by the government and 107 Cape Verdean nationals living abroad. Private enterprise is now encouraged by the government and has been a major objective of the on-going privatization effort. In 1993, to further encourage investment by Cape Verdean emigrants, the government created favorable tax conditions for such investors. A 100% tax exemption was granted to the first five years of a foreign exportation operation. After five years, a foreign-owned exportation company must pay a 10% tax, which after 10 years was capped at 15%. Foreign-owned industrial endeavors received an exemption for the first three years of operation, with progressively higher customs duties afterwards (25%, 50%, and 75%). The tourism and fishing industries were also granted tax breaks. By the mid-1990s, most sectors of the economy were open to foreign investment, with highest priority given to light manufacturing, tourism, and fishing.

In 1997, the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) was $11.6 million and fell to $8 million in 1998. However, the increase in privatization sales increased FDI flow to record levels of $53.3 million and $21.2 million, in 1999 and 2000, respectively. The economic slowdown in 2001 combined with the worldwide decline in FDI flows and tourism helped bring Cape Verde's FDI to a reported $700,000.

Most FDI has been in tourism (54%), with manufacturing accounting for 15.5% of FDI. The main sources have been Italy, Portugal, Spain (Canary Islands), and Hong Kong.

Cape Verde launched a stock exchange in 1999, but it has never been operative. Aside from the endlessly unfavorable balance of payments, the Cape Verdean economic and political systems must be regarded as relatively stable.


The development plan adopted in 1991 sought to transform Cape Verde into an open-market style economy. The development priorities include the promotion of the service-sector industries such as tourism, fishing, maritime services, and transshipping. The problems of persistent drought and water shortage offer strong negative features for economic growth.

Travel and tourism is now one of the most significant parts of the Cape Verdean economy. In 2005 this accounted for 20% of the GDP, generating $373.2 million and growing at 5.8% per year, or much higher than any other economic sector. By 2015 it is projected to be $646 million. In other terms, by 2005, this sector alone accounts for 11,201 direct jobs and 19,282 indirect jobs or 10.2% of all jobs in Cape Verde

In 1994, the government announced a five-year plan to develop the fishing industry, focusing mostly on lobster and tuna. A freetrade port was projected, and offshore banking was planned. In 1997, the government adopted a four-year development plan that focused on debt management and sustainable development. Cape Verde entered into an $11 million three-year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) Arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April 2002. Economic growth and international reserves increased in 2002, and inflation fell. The fiscal deficit was lower than expected, the balance of payments was stronger, and investment increased. The government that came into office in 2001 focused on implementing tight monetary policies and improving the social and economic infrastructure. A new tax package was scheduled to be implemented in 2003.


Old age, disability, and survivorship pensions are provided for employed persons with a special system for public employees. The system is funded with contributions from the insured person as well as the employer. Cash and medical benefits are provided for sickness, maternity, and work injury. Company managers, shareholders, and owners are excluded from work injury coverage. Family allowances are payable to low income families with children under the age of 14.

The constitution bans sex discrimination, although social discrimination and violence against women persist. The penal code was amended to broaden the definition of sexual abuse and increase penalties. Domestic violence against women is commonplace and societal values discourage reporting these criminal offenses. Discrimination in the workplace continues in hiring, pay, and promotion. Women are often unaware of their rights and suffer unjust treatment in inheritance, family, and custody issues. In 2004 there were active women's organizations working to address these issues.

The government and nongovernmental organizations have been working to highlight the problems of child abuse and abandoned children. Human rights are generally respected by the Cape Verde authorities although there have been some reports of abuses by police.


Malnutrition (exacerbated by prolonged drought), influenza, and malaria are the major health problems in Cape Verde. The Portuguese government carried out a program of smallpox, yellow fever, and tuberculosis prevention throughout the 1960s. In the 1990s there were 1.5 hospital beds per 1,000 people. In 2000 there were 0.2 physicians, 0.6 nurses, and 0.02 dentists per 1,000 people.

The average life expectancy in 2005 was 70.45 years. The infant mortality rate was 47.77 per 1,000 live births in that year. It was estimated that 83% of children had been vaccinated against measles. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.04 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 775 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 225 deaths from AIDS in 2003.


Housing on the islands varies greatly, from the elegant, Mediterranean-style homes of Europeans and middle-class Cape Verdeans to the simple timber and mud-block houses of peasants. At last estimate, approximately 95% of all housing units were one-floor dwellings. External walls were mostly of stone and clay, stone and cement, or all stone. Water supply was delivered by pipes, wells, tanks and cisterns, and other sources. As of 2000, only about 76.7% of the population had access to safe drinking water. At least 54% did not have access to improved sanitation systems and 50% did not have access to electricity. About 15% of families were homeless. About 80% of all housing units were individual homes.


In the pre-independence period, education in the country followed the Portuguese system. Education under the independent government has been patterned after the program of popular education carried out in the liberated areas of Guinea-Bissau. The program stresses universal literacy and primary skills, with advanced education geared toward agricultural and technical skills for production.

Primary education is compulsory and lasts for six years. Secondary education consists of six more years divided into three cycles of two years each. At the second and third cycles, students may choose to switch to a technical or vocational school program.

In 2001, about 55% of all children between the ages of three and five were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 99% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 58% of age-eligible students; 55% for boys and 61% for girls. It is estimated that about 96% of all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 28:1 in 2003. The ratio for secondary school was about 24:1.

The most prominent institute of higher learning is the Universidade Jean Piaget de Cabo Verde. There are also a number of technical schools. In 2001, there were about 2,000 students enrolled in tertiary education programs. The adult literacy rate for 2004 was estimated at about 75.7%, with 85.4% for men and 68% for women.

The primary administrative body is the Ministry of Education and Human Resources. As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 7.9% of GDP, or 17% of total government expenditures.


The Library of the National Assembly in Praia has about 5,000 volumes. The National Library of Cape Verde and the Cape Verde National Historical Archives can both be found in Praia as well. The city also hosts a privately maintained technical and scientific library of 10,000 volumes. There is also a historical museum in the city.


In 2003, Cape Verde had 71,700 main line telephones with an additional 53,300 cellular phones in use throughout the country. In 2004, there were seven radio stations; six independent and one state owned. There were also three television stations; one state owned and two foreign owned. In 2002, there were about 100,000 radios and 15,000 television sets nationwide. Broadcasts are in Portuguese and Crioulo. There were approximately 20,400 Internet subscribers nationwide in 2003.

The only daily newspaper in 2005 was Horizonte (circulation figures unavailable). The government-run Novo Jornal-Cabo Verde (2002 circulation 5,000) is published twice per week. Other periodicals include the weekly A Semana (5,000) and Boletim Informativo (1,500).

The Constitution of Cape Verde provides for free expression, and the government is said to uphold this right generally. Government authorization is not needed to establish newspapers, other printed publications, or electronic media.


Cooperative organizations in agriculture, marketing, and labor have been formed. The Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Services is located at Praia and the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture, and Services of the Barlavento is located on São Vincente. The Council of Free Labor Unions serves as a network for 14 unions. The National Union of Cape Verde Workers also represents about 14 unions.

Mass organizations for youth and women are generally tightly controlled by the government. The Scout Association of Cape Verde is an active youth organization. There are national chapters of the Red Cross Society, Caritas, and UNICEF. Some volunteer service organizations, such as the Lions Clubs International, are also present.


Tourism is a potentially important source of revenue for the picturesque islands and has increased steadily since the mid-1980s. The number of hotels and other accommodations grew from 24 in 1985 to 40 in the early 1990s. In 1995 there were 1,436 hotel rooms, and in 2002 the number of hotel rooms rose again to 2,489 with 4,628 beds and an occupancy rate of 49%. There were 125,852 tourist arrivals that year. The average length of stay was five nights. The majority of visitors came from Italy and Portugal.

The ruins at Cidade Velha on São Tiago and the beaches at Baia das Gates on Boa Vista hold considerable tourist interest. The three-day festival of Bais das Gatas, known for its music, has gained international fame. Hiking, fishing, and water sports are also popular.

The US Department of State estimated the cost of staying in Praia at $186 per day in 2005. On São Tiago, the average daily expenses were $171.


Aristides Maria Pereira (b.1923) was the cofounder, with Amilcar Cabral (192173), of the PAIGC. He became PAIGC secretarygeneral after Cabral's assassination. Pereira was the first president of the independent Republic of Cape Verde, a position he held until 1991. Luis de Almeida Cabral (b.1931), a brother of Amilcar, became the first president of Guinea-Bissau; after being ousted, he went into exile in Cuba. Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro was president (19912001). He was succeeded by Pedro Verona Rodrigues Pires (b.1934). Cesaria Evora (b.1941) gained an international reputation as a blues singer in the 1990s.


The Republic of Cape Verde has no territories or colonies.


Bigman, Laura. History and Hunger in West Africa: Food Production and Entitlement in GuineaBissau and Cape Verde. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993.

Broecke, Pieter van den. Pieter van den Broecke's Journal of Voyages to Cape Verde, Guinea, and Angola, 16051612. London: Hakluyt Society, 2000.

Dun and Bradstreet's Export Guide to Cape Verde. Parsippany, N.J.: Dun and Bradstreet, 1999.

Lobban, Richard. Cape Verde: Crioulo Colony to Independent Nation. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1995.

, and Marlene Lopes. Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Cape Verde. 3rd ed. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1995.

Shaw, Caroline S. Cape Verde. Oxford, England; Santa Barbara, Calif.: Clio Press, 1991.

Zeilig, Leo and David Seddon. A Political and Economic Dictionary of Africa. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2005.

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Cape Verde


Republic of Cape Verde

Major Cities:
Praia, Mindelo


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report for Cape Verde. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


CAPE VERDE , in the central Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Africa, is one of that continent's youngest republics, having gained its independence from Portugal only in 1975. It is a small, archipelagic nation of few natural resources, struggling to develop its 10 disparate islands. A transitional society with a unique heritage, Cape Verde is a blending of African traditions with a culture which reflects a long history as part of the Portuguese colonial empire.

Portuguese navigators discovered the uninhabited archipelago in the mid-15th century. They established plantations and founded Ribeira Grande (Cidade Velha ) in 1462, the earliest European city in the tropics. The area prospered from transatlantic slave trade during the next century, but the settlements were subject to occasional pirate attacks. Sir Francis Drake sacked Ribeira Grande in 1585. After a French attack in 1712, the community declined in importance.



Praia, a city of approximately 68,000 on the island of São Tiago, has been the capital of Cape Verde since 1770. It is the largest town on the islands and also serves as São Tiago's port. The principal employer in Praia is the Cape Verdean government.

The charm of Praia lies in its unique character; it is neither fully African nor European. It retains some of the atmosphere of a small, 19th-century town in southern Europe, combined with the people, foods, and traditions of West Africa. While far from a modern city, Praia is growing rapidly. There are noticeable positive gains in both the public works and private sectors. Businesses are attempting to modernize and new housing is going up, although the housing shortage remains acute.


Dress in Cape Verde follows general Western patterns and is less formal than in Washington, DC. In general, clothing suitable for tropical or sub-tropical climates is appropriate, but warm sweaters and jackets are sometimes necessary in the cool season. Simple clothing can be made inexpensively by local tailors.

Praia has no dry cleaning facilities, so do not bring dry-clean-only clothes. Wash-and-wear items are the easiest to maintain. Dust and dirt make frequent washing necessary. Some travelers use garment bags to protect their clothing.

The usual dress for men is slacks and sport shirts; coats and ties are worn on more formal occasions. Cotton bush shirts and wash-and-wear suits are popular for work and social events. A dark suit is used for formal wear (dinner jackets or tuxedos are never needed). Lightweight fabrics, such as cotton or a mixture of cotton and synthetic fibers, are preferred.

For women, lightweight slacks, skirts, blouses, or sundresses are comfortable for everyday wear. The constant sun and wind necessitates some sort of hat or head scarf, and many women find culottes more practical than wraparound skirts. Short cocktail dresses are suitable for more formal occasions; long dresses are rarely worn.

American-style clothing (jeans and T-shirts) is both appropriate and popular with the island youth. Lightweight, washable fabrics are the most practical. Sports clothing, including a good supply of beach-wear, tennis clothes, and hiking shoes, is recommended. Praia's picturesque cobblestone streets and sidewalks are slippery, making it advisable to include crepe-soled shoes in every wardrobe. Most shoes tend to wear out quickly. Shoes are expensive locally, selection is limited, and sizes vary. High heels are not recommended.

Some ready-made clothing is available in downtown stores, both in Praia and Mindelo. Materials for sewing can be purchased in Dakar.

Supplies and Services

A limited selection of European toiletries, cosmetics, and other sundries can be bought locally, but American brands are not stocked. Patent medicines are rarely found. Prescription drugs often are in short supply. Household products (soap powder, dishwashing detergent, etc.) are not always available.

Travelers and expatriates are advised to bring sports clothing, including a good supply of beach-wear (bathing suits, beach shoes, goggles, fins, masks, beach towels, etc.), tennis clothes and shoes, and hiking clothes and shoes. Sports clothes and equipment are expensive locally, and selection is limited.

Those planning an extended stay in Cape Verde should be prepared to be more self reliant than would be necessary in a more developed country. There are shoe repair, barber, and basic beauty services. Radio and auto repair is not reliable. Many services and products, unavailable in the islands, can be found in Dakar, which is readily accessible.

Religious Activities

Cape Verde is predominantly Roman Catholic, and Catholic churches abound in most towns. Some Protestant groups, such as Seventh-Day Adventist and Church of the Nazarene, are represented on all islands. All services are in Portuguese or Crioulo.

Domestic Help

As in most West African countries, it is customary to hire domestic help. Most expatriate families have a full-time maid or cook, and some hire a driver. Wages are quite reasonable. Government regulations set minimum pay scales and require two months' severance pay upon termination of employment. There are no pension or social security requirements. All household servants should have medical examinations, including chest X-rays.


There are no international or American schools in the country. The Cape Verdean educational system has primary and secondary schools only; post-secondary training is not offered, except in religion. Both the primary and secondary schools are crowded, and operate three shifts each day to accommodate the number of students. Instruction is in Portuguese. No athletic facilities are available. In short, local education is not suitable for most American dependents.

The school calendar runs from October to June. Overall facilities are limited in comparison to schools in the U.S.

A number of European children in Praia study via correspondence courses from France; Americans could consider a similar course of study through the Calvert School (Tuscany Road, Baltimore, MD 21210), which is designed to teach children at home. It offers a complete curriculum for kindergarten through grade eight. Each level comes with all necessary books and supplies. A detailed guide is provided for the home tutor, and a teacher-advisory service is available. The Division of Continuing Studies of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (Lincoln, NE 68583) offers a similar correspondence course for secondary students. The success of home study depends greatly on the motivation of the student and the quality of the tutor.

Some expatriate parents find it necessary to send their children to boarding school in Europe or the U.S. Direct air connections to Lisbon, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, and Boston from Sal Island allow convenient travel for the students.

Dakar, Senegal has two English-language schools, but neither offers boarding facilities. Boarding must be arranged privately.

Praia has no colleges or universities. Most adult education programs are limited to adult literacy courses. Private English-language tutoring is hard to find. No special schooling exists for handicapped persons.

Recreation and Entertainment

Cape Verde offers a wide variety of water sports, such as fishing, sailing, boating, diving, wind surfing, and snorkeling. São Tiago Island has some attractive beaches near Praia and at Tarrafal, as well as at other locations. Cape Verde's volcanic mountains, valleys, and beaches are ideal for exploring, hiking, and picnicking. The national sport of Cape Verde is soccer, and matches are held regularly. Inter-island competitions and an occasional international match are also held. Cape Verde also sponsors tennis, hand-ball, and basketball teams. Praia has an active tennis and golf club, where membership cost is minimal. There is no grass on the golf course, and the constant wind adds a challenging dimension to tennis matches. The hotel in the Prainha section of town, where most Americans live, also has a tennis court; lessons are available and inexpensive. Cricket is played at Mindelo.

Travel between the islands provides a change of pace and scenery from Praia. The national airline, TACV, serves the major islands at reasonable prices. The island of Fogo offers interesting landscapes dominated by its volcano. Boa Vista has Cape Verde's most beautiful beaches. Brava, the smallest of the inhabited islands, lies in the southwest of the archipelago. Each island is unique, and provides fine photographic opportunities.

Travel to Dakar offers a different climate and culture. Shopping is excellent in that city, but prices are high. Dakar also has many museums and cultural attractions, as well as good beaches and restaurants.

Entertainment in Praia is limited. The city has two cinemas (one outdoor) which often show English-language films with Portuguese subtitles. Brazilian or European films also are screened. The French Cultural Center in Praia offers a weekly French movie.

The major hotels have adequate restaurants with varied menus. Small local restaurants tempt the more adventurous and are becoming more sanitary and modern. Several discotheques of varying quality are also located in Praia.

Local competition in music (vocal and instrumental) and dance are popular. State functions are rare.

Fast becoming the most popular form of entertainment is the home video recorder (mostly VHS systems). The American Community Video Club, open to all Americans, has an ever-increasing library of VHS tapes. A multi-system receiver allows a mutual exchange of tapes with European expatriates.

The international community in Praia is small. Fewer than 12 comprise the official U.S. representation. There is the American Embassy and a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) office. Other countries diplomatically represented here are France, Portugal, China, the former Soviet Union, Cuba, Brazil, and Senegal. Additional multi-national aid experts number more than two dozen. Language fluency in Portuguese, French, or Spanish is an asset in mixing with the international community.

Social life is quite active. Dinners and lunches are common, and picnics and beach outings are popular. The Cape Verdeans themselves often have limited resources for entertaining, but clearly like to be invited to private homes. Many opportunities exist to become acquainted with the people, customs, and culture of the host country.


Mindelo is the second largest city in Cape Verde, and the only other center of appreciable size. It is located in the northwestern part of São Vicente and, although its population (about 47,000) is smaller than Praia's, the city is busier and more cosmopolitan.

Mindelo is a commercial center, mostly because of its excellent harbor. The city's deep-water harbor on Porto Grande Bay is an important refueling point for transatlantic freighters. A new shipyard, financed by a loan from the European Investment Bank, was completed in Mindelo in the early 1980s. Mindelo has shops, restaurants, some hotels, a small newspaper, and facilities for sports. There is no resident American community here, nor are there opportunities for English-language education.

Carnaval, the pre-Lenten festival and one of Cape Verde's major events, takes place in Mindelo.


Geography and Climate

The Cape Verde Islands lie in the Atlantic Ocean 385 miles (620 kilometers) off the African coast, directly west of Senegal. The archipelago consists of 10 islands and five islets, which are divided into windward (barlavento ) and leeward (sotavento ) groups. The six islands of the windward group are Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Luzia, São Nicolau, Sal (Sal Rei), and Boa Vista. The four leeward islands are São Tiago, Maio, Fogo, and Brava. Of the 10 islands, only Santa Luzia is uninhabited. The capital city, Praia, is on São Tiago.

Although the islands are volcanic in origin, the only active crater is on Fogo. Fogo is the site of the most recent eruption, which occurred there in 1951. In March 1981, the crater showed activity, and seismic tremors occurred on the nearby island of Brava.

Three islandsSal, Boa Vista, and Maioare flat, and lack natural water supplies. Mountains higher than 4,200 feet (1,280 meters) are found on São Tiago, Fogo, Santo Antão, and São Nicolau.

Temperatures and humidity vary with altitude, but the climate is warm, dry, and windy. The average temperature in Praia is 75° F (24.4°C). The hottest month, September, has an average temperature of 79°F (26°C); the coolest month, February, averages 72°F (22°C). The ocean has a major stabilizing effect on temperatures.

All of the islands, especially the windward, have been eroded by sand carried by high winds. On several of the mountainous islands, sheer, jagged cliffs rise from the sea. The uplands and coasts have no natural vegetation: most vegetation is in the interior valleys.

In the islands, there are only two seasonsthe dry season, November to July, and the rainy, August to October. Insufficient rainfall has led to drought conditions for more than 17 years, but rainfall has been more plentiful in the last few years. In Praia, the average annual precipitation is only about 9.5 inches. The dry season is marked by gusty winds; dust, originating in the distant Sahara Desert, reduces visibility, damages machinery, and irritates eyes and respiratory passages. The dry climate discourages mosquitoes and most insect pests, but some thrive despite drought and wind.


Cape Verdeans are of mixed African and Portuguese origin; vestiges of African culture, the legacy of the slaves brought to the islands to work on the settlers' plantations, are most pronounced on São Tiago.

Because of the limited land area and lack of natural resources, emigration has been traditional. There are sizable Cape Verdean communities in the United States (mainly Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island), and in Senegal, The Netherlands, Portugal, Argentina, Brazil, Guinea-Bissau, and Angola.

Although the official language is Portuguese, most Cape Verdeans speak Crioulo, a mixture of Portuguese and African. The predominant religion is Roman Catholicism, but the Church of the Nazarene and the Seventh-Day Adventists also are represented.

The 2000 population estimate for the islands was 411,500. Annual population growth is about three percent, and density is approximately 111 people per square mile. Praia, the capital and largest urban area, had approximately 68,000 residents in 2000. The commercial center, Mindelo, on São Vicente, with roughly 47,000 inhabitants, is second in size. Nearly half of the total population lives on São Tiagothe remainder, on Santo Antão, São Vicente, and Fogo.

The islands have experienced recurrent drought and famine since the end of the 18th century, and the fragile prosperity slowly vanished with the declining slave trade. The worst drought in Cape Verdean history hit the islands in 1968, crippling the economy and making Cape Verde heavily dependent on foreign, principally Western, aid for survival.

The archipelago's position astride Atlantic shipping lanes made Cape Verde an ideal location for resupplying ships in the early days, and Mindelo's excellent harbor became an important commercial center. In the first half of the 19th century, it was the headquarters of the U.S. Navy Africa Squadron. As early as 1810, U.S. whaling ships recruited crews from Brava and Fogo to hunt the whales abundant in Cape Verdean waters.

The first American consulate in Cape Verde was established in 1816, and consular representation continued throughout the 19th century. A submarine cable station was established at Mindelo in 1875, but later was moved to Sal Island.


In 1951, Cape Verde's status was changed from that of Portuguese colony to overseas province. Five years later, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (Partido Africano da Independência do Guinée Cabo Verde, or PAIGC) was organized in Bissau under the leadership of Amílcar Cabral. It sought to make demands on Portuguese authorities to improve economic, social, and political conditions in Cape Verde and what was then Portuguese Guinea.

The PAIGC's armed struggle against Portugal began in 1961 with acts of sabotage, and eventually grew into a war in Portuguese Guinea that pitted 10,000 PAIGC soldiers, supported by the Soviet bloc, against 35,000 Portuguese and African troops fighting for Portugal. The PAIGC had a clandestine organization in Cape Verde, it did not attempt to disrupt Portuguese control of the archipelago. It became an overt political movement there after the Portuguese revolution of April 1974.

In December of that year, an agreement was signed in Lisbon providing for a transitional government to prepare Cape Verde for independence. On June 30, 1975, Cape Verdeans elected a National Assembly and gained independence from Portugal on July 5, 1975.

After a political coup in Guinea-Bissau in November 1980, Cape Verde abandoned its hope for unity with that country, and formed a separate party, PAICV. Since then, the two countries' relations have been as one sovereign state to another.

From 1980 to 1990, the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV) was the country's only legal political party. All legislative authority was held by the PAICV-dominated National People's Assembly, which elected the president of the Republic to a five-year term. However, in April 1990, substantial political changes were announced. President Aristides Pereira called for the abandonment of Cape Verde's one-party system. Also, in September 1990, the PAICV's National Council declared that future presidents would be elected by universal suffrage and that opposition parties would be allowed to participate in elections to the National People's Assembly.

In January 1991, Cape Verde held its first multi-party elections for the 79-member National People's Assembly. An opposition party, the Movement for Democracy (MPD), won 56 seats while the PAICV captured only 23 seats. One month later, Cape Verde held its first free presidential elections. The new constitution came into force on September 25, 1992, and it underwent a major revision in November 1995, substantially increasing the powers of the president. The president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term. The prime minister is nominated by the National Assembly and appointed by the president. In the National Assembly there are currently 72 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms.

The judicial system is composed of a high court, Supremo Tribunal de Justica, and separate courts which hear civil and criminal cases.

Cape Verde is divided into 14 districts (conselhos ); in each district a government delegate (delegado ) is responsible for local administration and operation.

The Cape Verdean flag is comprised of three horizontal bands of light blue (top, double width), white (with a horizontal red stripe in the middle third), and light blue; a circle of 10 yellow five-pointed stars is centered on the hoist end of the red stripe and extends into the upper and lower blue bands.

Arts, Science, Education

Since the discovery and settlement of the islands, the intellectual, technological, and artistic trends have often followed those of Portugal.

The country's educational system consists of various tiers: a semi-autonomous kindergarten network exists for children from four to six years of age; elementary education is organized in two cycles, for those aged seven to nine, and others 11 and 12; and secondary education is available in high schools in Praia, Assomada, and Mindelo, or in programs for technical and commercial studies.

The adult literacy rate in 1995 was approximately 70 percent. Cape Verde's education system is plagued by overcrowding and inadequate instruction, although significant improvements have been achieved. As there is no university in the islands, students have traditionally gone abroad to pursue technical and advanced studies.

Cape Verde has a rich tradition in the arts. It is particularly famous for its poets, and for the hauntingly melancholic musical compositions known as mornas. The poets of Cape Verde write in both Portuguese and Crioulo.

A national artisan center in Mind-elo is attempting to reintroduce native crafts, including weaving and pottery making. A small ethnological museum also is located there.

Panos, hand-woven fabrics famous during the slave-trading days and used as a form of money, are still made by few artisans, and are worn by women as waistbands.

Commerce and Industry

The majority of the work force of Cape Verde is employed in the rural sector.

The dearth of material resources, aggravated by a long period of drought, has resulted in agricultural production consistently falling far below consumer needs. Mineral resources are salt, pozzolana (a volcanic rock used in cement production), limestone, and kaolin (a fine clay used as a filler).

Subsistence cropsbananas, corn, beans, sweet potatoes, and maniococcupy most of the arable land. During drought and normal conditions, Cape Verde produces only a small proportion of its dietary staple, corn. In years of adequate rainfall, small quantities of bananas, sugarcane, and Arabica coffee are exported. Livestock production includes goats, chickens, pigs and, in fewer numbers, beef cattle. Goats are especially adapted to the rocky terrain and provide a vitally needed source of protein.

The plentiful fish and shellfish in the archipelago's seas provide local consumption, small quantities for export. There are cold storage and freezing facilities at Mindelo and Praia, and on Sal Island. The government is examining ways to further develop its fishing industry.

Cape Verde's strategic location at the crossroads of central Atlantic air and sea lanes has been enhanced by a new harbor in Praia, improvements at Mindelo's harbor (Porto Grande), and at Sal's Amílcar Cabral International Airport. In addition, ship repair facilities were opened at Mindelo in 1983.

The islands' location, climate, mountain scenery, and extensive beaches offer possibilities for the development of tourism. The basic infrastructure for this sector was improved in 1983 with the completion of the U.S.-financed desalination and power plant.

Because of the archipelago's meager resources, many Cape Verdeans seek work abroad.

In June 1985, Cape Verde signed an Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) agreement with the United States. It also has economic accords with Portugal, the European Community (EC), the Arab Development Bank, Sweden, The Netherlands, and the African Development Bank. Since Cape Verde's independence, the U.S. has provided grant aid for food, technical assistance, soil and water conservation, agricultural research, rural development, school construction, and training and desalination facilities. In 1988, bilateral agreements between the U.S. and Cape Verde established a Peace Corps program and military training for Cape Verdeans at U.S. military schools.

Retail trade within the islands is handled by numerous shopkeepers and market traders. Food is the largest imported item and, with few exceptions, all consumer items are imported.

The National Union of Cape Verdean Workers (União Nacional dos Trabalhadores de Cabo Verde, or UNTC) is comprised of the membership of six trade unions. While these are guaranteed the right to strike, they do not do so. UNTC has only a few thousand members.

Cape Verde's commercial office, Associacão Commercial Barlavento, is in Mindelo, São Vicente, at P.O. Box 62; telephone: 31-22-81.


The larger islands of São Tiago, Sal, São Vicente, Boa Vista, São Nicolau, Santo Antão, Maio, and Fogo are served by Transportes Aéreos de Cabo Verde (TACV), the national airline. TACV flies small Hawker-Siddeley and Twin Otter aircraft several times weekly (except Sundays) between the major islands at reasonable prices. Intercontinental flights also exist weekly or bimonthly on various national and international aircraft between Cape Verde and Lisbon, Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, Moscow, Dakar, Banjul, Bissau, Johannesburg, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, and Boston. Small, regularly scheduled shipping vessels link Brava, the only inhabited island without an airport, to Fogo and São Tiago. Ferry boats also travel regularly between São Vicente and Santo Antão. There are no railroads. All islands have similar cobblestone road systems.

Public transportation in Praia is inadequate. A few taxis (black and green) are available, but not at all hours. Bus service is available and set schedules exist, but are not always followed.

Public transport to the interior towns of São Tiago is by bus and small passenger trucks or " aluguers. " All of the major towns are connected by cobblestone roads; dirt roads and paths connect the rest.

Automobile traffic in Cape Verde moves on the right. Narrow roads, people on foot, and wandering livestock make driving somewhat hazardous.

A car brought into Cape Verde by a nonresident is considered in transit, and no taxes are levied; a second car, however, is subject to all duties.

Small European and Japanese automobiles, such as Fiat, Volkswagen, Renault, Leyland, Nissan, Volvo, Peugeot, and Toyota, are the vehicles most commonly used. American cars are seldom seen, as servicing is difficult. Those importing cars are advised to bring a supply of spare parts such as spark plugs, points, condensers, fan belts, and the like. A heavy-duty battery is essential and air-conditioning is useful in warmer months.

Rough cobblestone roads cause tires and suspension systems to wear rapidly. Rust is a severe problem because of ocean breezes. Therefore, any vehicle shipped to Cape Verde should have heavy-duty suspension, radial tires, and undercoating. Carburetors should be for low-octane leaded gas, since locally available gasoline is of lower octane than American brands. It is unwise to ship car radios and stereos with any vehicle.

The national tourist agency, Secretaria de Estado de Comércio e Tourismo is at C.P. 105, Praia, São Tiago; telephone: 573; telex: 6058.


Telephone & Telegraph

Cape Verde's internal telephone and telegraph system is limited, but improving. Local telephone calls in Praia are inexpensive and connections are good. Inter-island connections are less reliable, and lengthy service outages occur periodically. Telegrams can be sent from Praia to any other island.

External communication links are good. A new communication satellite system with added lines and modern switchboard equipment in Praia and Mindelo has improved all communication services. Direct dial from the U.S. to Cape Verde began in 1988.

International telegraph service is carried by submarine cable. All mail is by air.

Radio & TV

Cape Verde's has two radio transmittersin Praia and on São Vicente. Praia's local station broadcasts on FM only, from 6:30 am to midnight. Programs concentrate on popular music and local news; international news coverage is incomplete, but shortwave broadcasts can be received from Europe, North America, and Africa.

Cape Verdean television (TEVC) is in color, transmitting every evening, except Monday, from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Programming consists of news, sports, cartoons, cultural programs, and weekly movies (subtitled in Portuguese) from the U.S., Europe, and the former Soviet Union.

The television system is not compatible with American sets but, with some sacrifice in quality of reception, U.S. sets can be converted. A booster and a large antenna make reception possible from Dakar (Senegal) and Morocco.

Newspapers, Magazines and Techincal Journals

Cape Verde is served by a government-run newspaper, Voz do Povo (Voice of the People), which is published weekly. Newspapers and magazines from Europe or the U.S. are rarely available. Subscriptions to English-language periodicals are good supplements to the limited reading material available in the country. There is a small library at the U.S. Embassy.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

General medical services are available at the government-operated central hospital in Praia, but this 300-bed facility falls far below U.S. standards. In addition to the Cape Verdean staff, there are medical personnel here from France, Brazil, Cuba, the former Soviet Union, and China. A 140-bed hospital is located in Mindelo.

Some specialists practice in Praia, but they are hindered by inadequate facilities and training, and lack of supplies. A priority of the Cape Verdean Government is to increase the quality of health care, but it remains inadequate by U.S. standards.

Americans (U.S. Government employees, tourists, merchant seamen, etc.) have been treated successfully here on an emergency basis, but more complex medical situations are handled in Dakar, Lisbon or, in some cases, the U.S.

Community Health

Community health in Praia is relatively good compared to other West African countries, but is well below American standards. Praia has weekly garbage collection. The city water is obtained from springs and is filtered. Many local residents use tap water for drinking but, as a safeguard against waterborne diseases, all drinking water should be boiled and filtered. Fruits and vegetables should be soaked in iodine solution if they cannot be peeled before eating raw. Meat (especially pork) needs thorough cooking.

There is no city sewage system, although one is being planned and developed; septic tanks are the alternative. During drought conditions, flies and cockroaches flourish.

Preventive Measures

A good supply of strong sun block, skin creams of all kinds, eye drops, sunglasses, and common first-aid medications is needed. These precautions are especially important, as the sun is intense six months of the year, and the sandstorms blowing from the Sahara can cause eye and throat irritations. Visitors are strongly advised to bring extra pairs of eyeglasses and contact lenses, and a generous supply of contact lens soaking and cleaning solutions. Neither eyeglasses nor contact lenses are made in Cape Verde.

Americans traveling to Praia must have inoculations against typhoid, yellow fever, typhus, hepatitis, and tetanus. Gamma globulin injections should be kept current. Malaria suppressants are recommended after the rainy season and for those who travel often to Senegal and other West African countries.


Passage, Customs & Duties

There are three air routes to Cape Verde's capital: New York/Lisbon/Sal/Praia; Boston/Sal/Praia (direct via TACV); and New York/Dakar/Praia. It is best to avoid the latter, as the Dakar/Praia flight is difficult and luggage is strictly limited to 40.4 lbs. (20 kilos) per person. Cape Verde's international airport is on Sal Island, a one-hour flight on TACV, the domestic carrier, from Praia. TACV does not fly on Sunday, and a wait of eight hours is common during the week. Two good hotels are located in Santa Maria, approximately 11 miles (17 kilometers) from the airport, where the wait is more pleasant.

A passport and visa are required. Travelers should obtain further information from the Embassy of the Republic of Cape Verde, 3415 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington D.C. 20007, telephone (202) 965-6820, or the Consulate General of Cape Verde in Boston. Overseas, inquiries should be made to the nearest Cape Verdean embassy or consulate.

Airport police and customs officials routinely inspect incoming and outgoing luggage. Travelers in possession of prescription drugs should carry proof of their prescriptions, such as labeled containers. Police have been known to arrest foreigners carrying unlabeled pills. For a complete list of prohibited items, please contact the nearest Cape Verdean embassy or consulate.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy at Rua Abilio M. Macedo 81, C.P. 201, Praia, telephone (238) 61-56-16 or 17, fax (238) 61-13-55, and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Cape Verde.


Quarantine is not required for pets imported to Cape Verde. Dogs and cats should be inoculated against rabies within six months prior to arrival. There are several veterinarians in Praia, but no kennels. Pet food is not available locally.

Firearms & Ammunition

Importation of firearms and ammunition is prohibited; only occasionally is an exception made.

Currence, Banking and Weights and Meaures

The Cape Verdean currency is the escudo, which is not convertible outside the country. Praia is the main banking center; the head office is Banco de Cabo Verde.

The metric system of weights and measures is used.


Jan. 1 New Year's Day

Jan. 23 National Heroes' Day

Feb/Mar. Carnival*

Mar/Apr. Good Friday*

Mar/Apr. Easter*

May 1 Labor Day

May 19 Municipal Day

July 5 Independence Day

Aug. 15 Assumption Day

Nov. 1 All Saints' Day

Dec. 25 Christmas Day



The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Cape Verde. Let's Visit Places & Peoples of the World Series. New York: Chelsea House, 1989.

Davidson, Basil. The Fortunate Isles: A Study in African Transformation. Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1989.

Ellen, Marcia M. Across the Atlantic: An Anthology of Cape Verdean Literature. North Dartmouth, MA: Center for the Portuguese-Speaking World, Southeastern Massachusetts University, 1988.

Foy, Colm. Cape Verde & São Tome & Principe. Marxist Regimes Series. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988.

Lobban, Richard and Marilyn Halter. Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Cape Verde. 2nd ed. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1988.

Ludtke, Jean. Atlantic Peeks: An Ethnographic Guide to the Portuguese-Speaking Atlantic Islands. Hanover, MA: Christopher Publishing House, 1989.

Meintel, Deirdre. Race, Culture, and Portuguese Colonialism in Cabo Verde. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1985.

Waltraud, B. Coli and Richard A. Lobban. Cape Verdeans in Rhode Island: A Brief History. Rhode Island Ethnic Heritage Pamphlet Series. Providence, RI: Rhode Island Publications Society, 1990.

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Cape Verde


Republic of Cape Verde
República de Cabo Verde



Cape Verde is an archipelago of 10 islands and 5 islets situated 483 kilometers (300 miles) due west of Dakar, Senegal, in the North Atlantic Ocean. Cape Verde's total land area is 4,033 square kilometers (1,557 square miles), which makes it slightly larger than the U.S. state of Rhode Island. The islands stretch over a distance of 350 kilometers (218 miles) north to south and 300 kilometers (186 miles) east to west. The terrain is mountainous and there is limited rainfall, making the islands very arid. The capital, Praia, is on Santiago Island, located in the south of the archipelago. The second largest town, Mindelo, is situated in the northwest of the archipelago on the island of Sao Vincent. The islands have a total coastline of 965 kilometers (600 miles).


The high rate of emigration and recent famines have limited population growth in Cape Verde. In 2001 the population was estimated at 405,163, with a very low growth rate of 0.92 percent. At least 500,000 Cape Verdeans are living abroad in Europe, the United States, and Africa. Most Cape Verdeans are of mixed European and African background, and an estimated 95 percent are Roman Catholics. Approximately half of the population lives on Santiago Island. In recent years, Praia and Mindelo have become urban migration magnets, accounting for much of the urban growth. In 1995 the United Nations (UN) estimated the urban population to be 54 percent of the total.


Cape Verde's economy is limited by the difficulties of accessing the islands, the nation's small size in terms of both population and geographical area, the absence of any mineral resources apart from some salt deposits, and a chronic shortage of rainfall. The rocky terrain and lack of rainfall hamper agricultural production. Most employment is in the services sector, which is sustained by remittances from Cape Verdeans living overseas (amounting to 16 percent of gross domestic product [GDP], in 1998), economic aid (mainly from Portugal and 29 percent of the GDP in 1998), and some tourism (3 percent of GDP in 1996).

However, in comparison to other African nations, Cape Verde is one of the more financially stable countries. It is considered to be on the margin between low-income and lower-middle income status. Nevertheless, living standards are still very low by comparison to the industrialized countries of the West. Per capita GNP measured by the exchange rate conversion, was $1,060 in 1998. The purchasing power parity conversion (which makes allowances for the low price of many basic commodities in Cape Verde) estimates per capita income at $1,700 in 2000. This amount can be compared with an average per capita income of $36,200 in the United States in the same year.

Insufficient food production and the lack of resources have resulted in a high dependence on imports, foreign investment, and aid. Since 1988 the government has tried to diversify and liberalize the economy in the hope that foreign investors might expand small-scale industry and develop the fishing and tourism sectors. Foreign investment and the development of local entrepreneurs are seen as the key to future growth.

The government has also started a program of privatization . Twenty-six parastatals were privatized by 1998, and a further 23 should be privatized by 2002, including utilities and financial institutions. The program of privatization has earned $80 million for the government and was expected to boost foreign investment to $11 million by 1999. The budget deficit grew from 6 percent of GDP in 1991 to 14 percent in 1994 due to expansion in public investment, stimulated by a massive boost in external aid. Although 32 percent of public revenue comes from external grants, the government has increased domestic revenue by higher tariffs and better taxation. Combined with a range of austerity measures, the budget deficit has now fallen to sustainable levels (4 percent in 1998).

Under the budget for 2000, expenditures were expected to grow by only 0.4 percent to $232 million. This estimate still indicates that government spending was much higher than expected (51 percent of GDP in 2000), due to the fact that expenditures grew by 17 percent in 1999. In accordance with the government's current National Development Plan (NDP), social expenditures were expected to be the largest expenditure item in the budget.

In 1998 the government started to implement its fourth NDP, which runs until 2001. As the main aim of the NDP is to alleviate poverty, it has the support of international donors. Under the NDP, powers are to be devolved to local councils to control spending, taxes, and investment at a local level. The NDP also aims to develop the private sector , provide vocational training programs, reform the education and health care systems, cut public spending, and reduce imports.

Since the pegging of the Cape Verde escudo to the Portuguese escudo, the government has committed itself to greater fiscal discipline and has sought to meet European Monetary Union (EMU) targets. These goals include a general government deficit of less than 3 percent of the GDP, public debt of less than or equal to 60 percent of the GDP, and an inflation rate that is less than 1.5 percent higher than those of the 3 EMU member states with the lowest inflation rates that year.

Despite its handicaps, the economy has grown steadily since independence in 1975 due to favorable loans and remittances from expatriates. World Bank figures indicate that the GDP grew by 8 percent per year from 1974 to 1985 and 4 percent per year from 1986 to 1992, comfortably faster than the population growth rate. Since 1994 the GDP growth rate has been 5.7 percent per year, and this has led to a per capita GNP that is among the highest in the West African region.

Unemployment is one of the biggest problems in Cape Verde with 25 percent of the labor force unable to find formal work. Although public investment in productive, export-oriented sectors is likely to increase, it will not grow quickly enough to absorb the expanding workforce. Therefore, many seek work in foreign countries, despite increasing U.S. and European barriers to immigration .

The government has abolished some price controls , while retaining a food aid distribution network. Average consumer inflation has fluctuated since 1989, averaging 6.5 percent between 1995 and 1999. Despite erratic inflation, interest rates remained stable.


The Portuguese colonized Cape Verde in 1456 and populated the islands with slaves brought from West Africa. Cape Verde achieved independence in 1975 after peaceful negotiations with Portugal, which had itself changed government in 1974. The African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC) was the only political party recognized during the transition. Aristedes Pereira, the first president, was reelected in 1981 and 1986. The same party ruled in both Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde, and there were plans for the political unification of the countries. However, the Cape Verde arm of the party abandoned unification in 1980 following a coup in Guinea-Bissau. The new African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV) was then formed.

Constitutional changes in 1991 allowed Cape Verde to be the first sub-Saharan one-party state to hold multi-party elections. The Movement for Democracy (MPD) was voted in, bringing to office Prime Minister Carlos Alberto Wahnon de Carvalho Veiga and President Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro. In 1992 the MPD established a new constitution defining Cape Verde as a sovereign, unitary, and democratic republic and included provisions for the protection of democratic rights and freedoms. The president stands as head of state and must be elected by two-thirds of the voters. Legislative power resides in the unicameral parliament, the Assembleia Nacional, which nominates the prime minister. The prime minister is the effective head of government and nominates his ministers. In July 1999, the parliament made further reforms, allowing the president to dissolve parliament and creating a constitutional court. It also established an Economic and Social Advisory Council, and gave Crioulo, a blend of Portuguese and West African speech, official status as a national language.

The 2 major forces in Cape Verde's political scene are the MPD party and PAICV. The MPD was formed in opposition to PAICV's one-party state and has implemented economic and constitutional reform to change Cape Verde to a democracy with a market economy. The MPD has attracted foreign aid to the nation and has built confidence in Cape Verde's economic and political stability both at home and abroad.

The PAICV, under a new leader, Pedro Pires, has retained its leftist orientation, but its ideals are losing favor with the younger members of the party. The PAICV has tended to be popular with emigrants, particularly those who live in the United States. The only party other than the PAICV and the MPD to win seats in the 2001 legislative election was the Democratic Alliance for Change (ADM), which earned 2 seats by garnering 6 percent of the vote.

The MPD won a convincing victory in the 1995 legislative election, and Veiga was returned as prime minister. Monteiro was reelected to the presidency in 1996, when he stood unopposed. The 2001 presidential election was closely fought, with Pedro Pires of the PAICV narrowly defeating Carlos Veiga of the MPD. Pires beat the former prime minister for the presidency by a margin of 12 votes.

Cape Verde has maintained an internationally non-aligned status, while strengthening its ties with both Portugal and Brazil. Cape Verde is a member of the Organization for African Unity (OAU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the Lomé Convention.

Cape Verde raises about 9 percent of the GDP from income and corporation taxes, 13 percent from import duties , and 7 percent from indirect taxes . Grants from overseas add the equivalent of 18 percent of the GDP. Education receives 19 percent of government expenditure, 21 percent goes to social security, and 19 percent is spent on health care. Cape Verde has a small armed force of 1,100 men, and less than 2 percent of government spending goes to the military.


While the infrastructure of Cape Verde is adequate, the government is committed to improving its ports and roads. About 600 kilometers (373 miles) of the 2,250 kilometers (1,398 miles) of roads are paved. The irregularity of maritime transport has hindered exports, but the government has tried to set up regular links to Africa and Europe. There are regular ferry services between most islands, and the main port is the newly enlarged Porto Grande in Mindelo. Praia port has recently been modernized, and a new port to the north of the capital is under construction.

The main international airport on Sal Island handles some 300,000 passengers per year. The national airline, TACV, has several international routes to Africa, Europe, and the United States, as well as providing domestic flights. A new international airport has been opened near the capital on Santiago Island.

Since Portugal Telecom acquired a 40 percent share of Cabo Verde Telecom in 1995, it has increased the number of telephone lines by 70 percent and also has provided fiber optic links between the islands, as well as Internet access. It was estimated that the nation had 45,644 telephone main lines in use in 2000. In 1998 Telemovel became the country's first cellular network. Portugal Telecom pledged $100 million for the modernization of telecommunications up until 2001.

There are only 2 weekly papers published in Cape Verde; one is state-owned and the other is run by the opposition. State television and radio merged in 1997 to form the new RTC company, and in 1998 the government allowed the resumption of private radio broadcasts. RTPi and Canal France International began broadcasting 24-hour television and radio in 1995.

Country Telephones a Telephones, Mobile/Cellular a Radio Stations b Radios a TV Stations a Televisions a Internet Service Providers c Internet Users c
Cape Verde 45,644 (2000) 19,729 AM 0; FM 11; shortwave 0 73,000 1 2,000 1 5,000
United States 194 M 69.209 M (1998) AM 4,762; FM 5,542; shortwave 18 575 M 1,500 219 M 7,800 148 M
Nigeria 500,000 (2000) 26,700 AM 82; FM 35; shortwave 11 23.5 M 2 (1999) 6.9 M 11 100,000
Guinea-Bissau 8,000 N/A AM 1; FM 2; shortwave 0 49,000 2 N/A 1 1,500
a Data is for 1997 unless otherwise noted.
b Data is for 1998 unless otherwise noted.
c Data is for 2000 unless otherwise noted.
SOURCE : CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online].

Cape Verde has no known oil or gas deposits and imports all it needs from Africa and Europe. The privatized Empresa Nacional de Combustives and Shell Cabo Verde distribute fixed-price fuel. The parastatal Electra (which went up for sale in February 1999) is the primary electricity provider. There are plans to develop the country's thermal capacity, and the government is seeking to improve access to electricity in rural areas. Total electricity production in 1999 reached 40 million kilowatt hours (kWh).


In 1998 the contribution to the GDP by sector was agriculture, 13 percent; industry, 19 percent; and services, 68 percent. The economy has also been bolstered by expatriate remittances, which are equivalent to 16 percent of the GDP, and grants from donors, equivalent to 18 percent of the GDP. In 1993, agriculture employed an estimated 24 percent of the working population, industry employed 25 percent, and services engaged 51 percent of the workforce. Approximately 24 percent of the labor force was unemployed in 1999.


Although agriculture and fishing only accounted for 13 percent of GDP in 1998, it was still a significant source of employment. However, flooding and droughts make agricultural production extremely unsteady. The most important crops are sugarcane, maize, and beans, while cash crops like bananas, pineapples, and coffee are being encouraged. Currently bananas are the only exported crop.

Agriculture has been affected by an unequal land-holding system, overpopulation of cultivable land, and the excessive subdivision of plots. Since independence the government has worked to reform the landholding system and more recently has turned its attention to maximizing water usage. Estimates suggest there is enough water available to cultivate 8,600 hectares (21,251 acres), compared to the present cultivation of only 3,000 hectares (7,413 acres).

Fishing (including lobster and tuna fishing) accounted for 2 percent of GDP in 1998 and is an important source of foreign currency. Cape Verde's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covers 734,265 square kilometers (283,500 square miles) and contains one of the last under-used fishing grounds in the world. In the long term Cape Verde expects to expand its fishing industry, with the island of Sao Vicente having the greatest potential. A recent deal was signed with Senegal and Guinea that opens their waters to Cape Verdean fishermen.


Mining makes a negligible contribution to the economy. Salt is the most important mined resource in Cape Verde, and current production stands at only 7,000 metric tons per year. On the island of Santo Antao there has been intermittent exploitation of pozzolana, a volcanic ash used in making hydraulic cement.

Manufacturing, though slowly expanding, is quite small and underdeveloped. The main areas of manufacturing are in shoemaking, fish canning, rum distilling, textiles, and beverage bottling. There are about 120 small to medium-sized privately owned manufacturing companies, mostly located in Praia and on Sao Vicente. The government believes the nation's geographical position, relatively skilled labor force, and low wages make it suitable for light industry. Since 1993 a free zone enterprise law has provided custom and tax duty exemptions in an attempt to attract foreign investment. As a result, industrial exports quadrupled from 1994 to 1998.


Cape Verde's services sector is small and widely dispersed. The majority of the income produced in this sector comes from port-related services, including fueling and repair services. The Banco de Cabo Verde, the central bank, is expected to gain additional autonomy under the 1999 constitutional reforms. Banco Comercial do Atlântico (BCA) and Caixa Económica de Cabo Verde (CECV) are the only commercial banks, both of which are in the process of being privatized. Two Portuguese banks have opened in Cape Verde and should raise the availability of credit. Reforms in the financial sector have allowed the government to offer tax-free government bonds and high yield savings accounts. A stock exchange opened in Praia in 1999.

Tourism contributed only 3 percent to the GDP in 1998 but has been identified as having significant potential growth. The government aims to attract 400,000 visitors per year by 2008, a big expansion from the 57,000 visitors in 1998. Several new hotel developments are underway, and since the mid-1990s tourist arrivals have grown by 11 percent per year, with tourists coming mainly from Europe (especially Portugal).


Cape Verde has little to export, and total export revenues were only $40 million in 2000. In 1994 the primary exports were foodstuffs (50 percent) and manufactured items (mostly leather goods and garments, 46 percent). Exports in 1994 went to Portugal (59 percent),

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Cape Verde
Exports Imports
1975 .002 .040
1980 .004 .068
1985 .006 .084
1990 .006 .136
1995 .009 .252
1998 N/A N/A
SOURCE : International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

Spain (14 percent), the United Kingdom (14 percent), and France (5 percent).

Cape Verde relies heavily on imports, which totaled approximately $250 million in 2000. Primary imports in 1994 were foodstuffs (28 percent), fuels (4 percent), machinery and transport equipment (37 percent), construction materials (16 percent), and other consumer manufactures. Imports come mainly from Portugal (36 percent), France (14 percent), Netherlands (8 percent), Japan (5 percent), Denmark (4 percent), Germany (4 percent), Sweden (4 percent), Belgium (3 percent), and Brazil (3 percent).

Cape Verde has recorded large merchandise trade deficits on a regular basis since independence, and the deficit worsened in the 1990s. Initiatives backed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have lessened the trade gap, but it still remains high. The balance of trade deficit stood at $210 million in 210, which was over 30 percent of GDP.


The Cape Verde escudo has been pegged to the Portuguese escudo at a rate of 55:1 since 1998 and, therefore, is fairly stable. In January 1999 the pegged currency was transferred to the euro at CVE 110.265:1 euro. The Banco de Cabo Verde, the central bank, gained additional

Exchange rates: Cape Verde
Cape Verdean escudos per US$1
Dec 2000 123.080
2000 115.877
1999 102.700
1998 98.158
1997 93.177
1996 82.591
SOURCE : CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

autonomy in constitutional reforms made in July 1999. Its main functions are to control the money supply through the issue of currency and to regulate the commercial banks. However, most capital for development has had to come from foreign investment and aid, which the ruling MPD party has been consistently successful at attracting. The continuing high rate of inflation in Cape Verde is problematic, since it is higher than that of its main trading partner, Portugal, and thus raises Cape Verde's export prices, making them noncompetitive. Inflation stood at 4 percent in 2000.


Only a small proportion of the population of Cape Verde (7 percent) are below the dollar-a-day poverty line (to be below this line means not having enough income to obtain the barest minimum of food, clothing, and shelter). Those in poverty include families that rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, whose farms may suffer from poor soil and inadequate rainfall, and urban dwellers without formal sector jobs and no family support, who exist by casual hawking , portering, and scavenging. Although average incomes are comparable to the average elsewhere in Africa, many Cape Verdeans are still very poor.

According to the United Nations Development Program 's (UNDP) Human Development Index (which combines measures of income, health, and education), Cape Verde climbed from 117th in 1995 to 106th in 1999 out of 174 total countries. In sub-Saharan Africa it now ranks third out of 43 countries, placing Cape Verde firmly in the medium development bracket, reflecting not only its economic development, but also its progress in health and education since independence.

Life expectancy was estimated at 69 years in 2001 (up from 52 years in 1960), which is the highest in sub-Saharan Africa, and this is partly due to a well-developed health care system. Infant mortality stood at 53 per 1,000 live births in 2001 (better than the 65 per 1,000 average for developing countries). There is 1 doctor for every 4,270 people (according to 1992 estimates). There are plans for a new hospital to be built in the capital.

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Cape Verde N/A N/A 1,039 1,120 1,354
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Nigeria 301 314 230 258 256
Guinea-Bissau 226 168 206 223 173
SOURCE : United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

Clean water and sanitation have been a problem for Cape Verde, leading to intermittent outbreaks of cholera. However, the government has implemented a scheme to bring clean water to all its citizens by 2005. The 1999 budget allocated $15.5 million to health care.

Literacy stood at 71 percent in 1997 (compared to 36 percent in 1970). There is universal primary school enrollment, secondary school enrollment is 27 percent, and 3 percent go on to higher education. Improving education at all levels in Cape Verde is a key priority for the UNDP. Education accounted for 19 percent of government expenditure in 1999.


The constitution guarantees respect for human dignity and recognizes the inviolable and inalienable rights of humanity, peace, and justice. It recognizes the equality of all citizens before the law, without distinction of social origin, social condition, economic status, race, religion, political convictions, or ideologies. The constitution promises transparency for all citizens in the practicing of fundamental liberties and guarantees the equality of citizens in all fields. Forced labor is illegal. However, Cape Verde lacks the legislation and implementation machinery to ensure that the requirements of the constitution are upheld. Despite this, Cape Verde is a tolerant society, and the multiparty democratic process and the rule of law are well established.

A major problem in Cape Verde is unemployment, with 24 percent of the economically active population unable to find formal work. Although public investment in productive, export-oriented sectors is likely to increase, it will not grow quickly enough to make major reductions in the unemployed workforce. Therefore, many will continue to seek work in foreign countries, despite the increasing legal problems of immigration to the United States and Europe. There is no set minimum wage. Trade unions exist in Cape Verde but are not particularly aggressive.

Social Security is available through the Instituto Nacional de Previdencia Social (INPS), established in 1991. The INPS provides a range of benefits, including retirement and disability pensions. In 1995 the scheme covered 23,000 workers, who contribute 23 percent of their earnings.


1456. Cape Verde is colonized by the Portuguese.

1500s. Cape Verde thrives as center for the transatlantic slave trade.

1951. Portugal changes Cape Verde's status to that of an overseas province, granting more local control.

1975. Cape Verde becomes independent following a 1974 revolution in Portugal. Aristedes Pereira is elected as the first president and the first National Assembly is elected.

1980. The Cape Verde arm of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC) abandons its goal of unification with Guinea-Bissau and forms the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV).

1981. Pereira of the PAICV is reelected president.

1986. Pereira is reelected president.

1990. Opposition political groups form the Movement for Democracy (MPD) in April and campaign for the right to take part in elections.

1991. The first multiparty elections are held in January, with the MPD winning a majority in the National Assembly and electing Antonio Monteiro as president.

1992. A new constitution is adopted.

1996. Monteiro is reelected president.

2001. Pedro Pires, of PAICV, is elected president by a narrow margin of 12 votes.


Cape Verde's isolation, lack of important minerals, and inadequate rainfall are expected to limit progress in the immediate future. There are, however, 2 causes for cautious optimism. The first is that Cape Verde has good prospects for expanding its tourism sector: it is relatively close to Europe for a tropical destination, and it has the priceless benefit of a secure regime and political stability. Cape Verde is aiming for an 8-fold increase in tourism over the next 8 years, and with suitable foreign investment, this is quite achievable. If successful, this growth will provide a major boost to the nation's economy. The second encouraging feature is that Cape Verde has managed to establish manufacturing and exports in leather goods and garments. The low wage rates in Cape Verde, the good educational level of the Cape Verdean work-force, and the proximity to the markets of Europe suggest that this sector of the economy can undergo significant expansion.

As for the foreseeable future, the 2000 budget was approved, but spending exceeded projections in 1999. The World Bank backed a loan to support administrative reform. Inflation has fallen but remains above target. Ties with the Azores have strengthened and the current account deficit doubled between 1997 and 1998. GDP growth estimates have been lowered slightly from 6 percent to 5.5 percent from 2000 to 2001, due to lapses in policy reform. The reduction in the growth rate can be expected to persist until the new government reveals its commitment to the liberalizing process. The election of Pedro Pires as president is unlikely to affect the overall policy of economic liberalization, although the privatization process may be slowed.


Cape Verde has no territories or colonies.


Assembleia Nacional de Cabo Verde. <>.Accessed October 2001.

"CapeVerde: Economy." NewAfrica. <>. Accessed September 2001.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Cape Verde. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

Hodd, M. "Cape Verde." The Economies of Africa. Aldershot, England: Dartmouth Publications, 1991.

Kelly, R. C., et al., editors. Cape Verde Country Review 1998/1999. Commercial Data International, Inc., 1999.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2001. <>. Accessed September 2001.

U.S. Department of State. Background Notes: Cape Verde, May 1998. <>. Accessed October 2001.

U.S. Department of State. FY 2001 Country Commercial Guide: Cape Verde. <>. Accessed October 2001.

Jack Hodd




Cape Verde escudo (CVE). One escudo equals 100 centavos. There are notes of 100, 200, 500, 1,000, and 2,500 escudos and coins of 1, 2.5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 escudos and 20 and 50 centavos. In July 1998 the Cape Verde escudo was pegged to the Portuguese escudo at 55:1.


Fuel, shoes, garments, fish, bananas, and hides.


Foodstuffs, industrial products, transport equipment, and fuels.


US$670 million (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).


Exports: US$40 million (2000 est.). Imports: US$250 million (2000 est.).

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Cape Verde

Cape Verde (vûd), Port. Cabo Verde, officially Republic of Cape Verde, republic (2005 est. pop. 418,000), c.1,560 sq mi (4,040 sq km), W Africa, in the Atlantic Ocean about 300 mi (480 km) W of Dakar, Senegal. It is an archipelago made up of 10 islands and 5 islets. Praia, located on the island of São Tiago, is the capital and largest city. In addition to the capital, other towns include Mindêlo on São Vicente, Ribeira Grande on Santo Antão, Sal-Rei on Boa Vista, and Espargos on Sal.

Land and People

Cape Verde's islands fall into two main groups—the Barlavento, or Windward, in the north, which include Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Luzia, São Nicolau, Boa Vista, and Sal, and the Sotavento, or Leeward, in the south, which include São Tiago (c.600 sq mi/1,550 sq km, the largest island), Fogo, Maio, and Brava. The islands are mountainous and of volcanic origin; the only active volcano is at the archipelago's highest point, Pico do Fogo (c.9,300 ft/2,830 m), which is located on Fogo. Regularly active until the 18th cent., the volcano's most recent eruptions were in 1951, 1995, and 2014. The area is sometimes subject to severe droughts and the fierce harmattan wind. About 70% of the population is of mixed African and European descent, and almost 30% are of African descent; there are also a few Portuguese. Most persons are Roman Catholic, and the religion is often mixed with indigenous beliefs. Portuguese and Crioulo, a blend of Portuguese and West African languages, are widely spoken.


Farming is severely limited by the limited and often erratic rainfall and extensive soil erosion; more than 80% of the country's food must be imported. Cape Verde has considerable underground reserves of water, but extraction has proved extremely costly. The main crops are bananas, corn, beans, sweet potatoes, sugarcane, coffee, and peanuts. Goats, hogs, cattle, and sheep are raised. Tuna and lobster are the main catches of a small but potentially rich fishing industry. Salt is extracted and there are unexploited gypsum deposits. The islands' industries include food processing, the manufacture of shoes and clothing, salt mining, ship repair, and tourism, which is increasingly important to the economy.

The islands carry on a small foreign trade, mostly with Portugal, Spain, and other European Union countries; the annual cost of imports is usually much higher than export earnings. The main imports are foodstuffs, industrial products, transportation equipment, and fuels; the leading exports are fuel, shoes, garments, fish, and hides. Cape Verde's expatriate population is greater than its domestic one, and remittances from emigrants living in the United States, Portugal, and Africa constitute an important supplement to the islands' economy.


Cape Verde is governed under the constitution of 1992 as amended. The president, who is head of state, is popularly elected for a five-year term and is eligible for a second term. The government is headed by a prime minister, who is nominated by the legislature and appointed by the president. The unicameral legislature consists of the 72-seat National Assembly, whose members are popularly elected for five-year terms. Administratively, Cape Verde is divided into 17 municipalities.


Cape Verde was discovered in 1456 by Luigi da Cadamosto, a navigator in the service of Portugal. Four years later, Diogo Gomes, a Portuguese explorer, visited the uninhabited islands, and colonists from Portugal began to settle there in 1462. People from W Africa were soon brought in as slaves, and by the 16th cent. the islands had become a shipping center for the slave trade. Later a Portuguese penal colony was established, and some of the convicts remained after completing their terms. Slavery was abolished on the islands in 1876. Portuguese Guinea (now Guinea-Bissau) was administered as part of the Cape Verde Islands until 1879. In 1951 the status of the islands was changed from colony to overseas province.

Although the nationalist movement appeared less fervent in Cape Verde than in Portugal's other African holdings, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) was founded in 1956 and many Cape Verdeans fought for independence in Guinea-Bissau. After the fall (Apr., 1974) of the Caetano regime in Portugal, widespread unrest forced the government to negotiate with the PAIGC, and independence for Guinea-Bissau (Sept., 1974) and Cape Verde (July, 1975) soon followed. Although the PAIGC was the sole legal party in both nations, a movement to unite the two was hindered by Cape Verde's nationalism and geographic remoteness. Plans for unity came to an abrupt end in 1980 after Guinea-Bissau's government (which was mostly Cape Verdean) was overthrown in a coup.

In 1981 the PAIGC was renamed the PAICV (African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde), a new constitution was adopted, and Aristides Maria Pereira (Cape Verde's first president) was reelected. In 1983 Cape Verde normalized relations with Guinea-Bissau; in 1986 Pereira was reelected. Multiparty elections were held in 1991; the centrist Movement for Democracy party (MPD) took a majority of seats in the national assembly, and Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro, an independent, defeated Pereira for the presidency. The MPD retained its majority in the 1995 assembly elections, and Mascarenhas Monteiro was reelected unopposed in 1996.

In the late 1990s the government continued economic reforms aimed at developing the private sector and attracting foreign investment. The nation, however, has been plagued by drought, resulting in staggering economic problems and large-scale emigration as well as the need to import most of its food. In 2001 the PAICV regained control of national assembly, and PAICV candidate Pedro Pires narrowly won the presidency. The PAICV retained control of the national assembly after the Jan., 2006, elections, and Pires was reelected the following month. In the Feb., 2011, elections, the PAICV again won a majority of the assembly seats, but the presidency was won by MPD candidate Jorge Carlos de Almeida Fonseca in August.


See T. B. Duncan, Atlantic Islands: Madeira, the Azores, and the Cape Verdes in Seventeenth-Century Commerce and Navigation (1972); C. Shaw, Cape Verde Islands (1990).

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Cape Verde

Cape Verde

Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Cape Verde
Region: Africa
Population: 401,343
Language(s): Portuguese, Crioulo
Literacy Rate: 71.6%

The Republic of Cape Verde, an archipelago of 10 islands and 5 islets located 385 miles off the northwest coast of Africa, is in the unenviable position of having to import approximately 80 to 90 percent of its foodstuff and of being prone to droughts leading to famines. These factors and others, including high unemployment, impact the educational system.

The independent (1975) Republic of Cape Verde inherited 75 percent illiteracy from the Portuguese. The official language is Portuguese; however, it is not the language in common use. At the time of independence and regularly thereafter, it was proposed that students have lessons in Cape Verde Creole, a mixture of Portuguese and West African languages, which is the language most commonly spoken. The proposal has not yet been accepted because some officials feel that Cape Verde Creole is simply an offshoot or dialect of Portuguese and, therefore, not a valid language.

However, efforts in the late 1990s, including work at public schools in Boston and Brockton with a high proportion of Cape Verde immigrants, have led to a proposed alphabet for Cape Verde Creole that reflects actual pronunciation. This alphabet, ALUPEC, was introduced in Cape Verde for a provisional five-year trial. If the alphabet is successful and accepted, it will become the government-sanctioned standard for Cape Verde Creole, the first step in accepting Cape Verde Creole as the official language of government and, thus, instruction.

Since the majority of people do not actually speak and use Portuguese, literacy rates are difficult to assess. Literacy rates, defined as those over the age of 15 who can read and write (no standard specified), are reported by various agencies to be between 70 and 86 percent.

The Republic of Cape Verde has a Ministry of Education, Science, Youth and Sports. Like most sub-Saharan countries, it has difficulty in filling teaching positions though.

The school year runs from October to July. Schooling is free, universal, and compulsory for students aged 7 to 13; however, attendance is not enforced. Early schooling enrollment rates exceed 90 percent, but dropout rates are high and later schooling is not well attended.

School laws were revised in 1987. Prior to 1987, schooling consisted of the first six years of instrução primária (primary education) and a escola preparatória (middle school) of three years. After middle school, two tracks were possible: a three-year track leading to a Curso Complementar do Ensino Tecnico (Certificate of the Completion of General Technical Education) or a two year pre-university course leading to a Curso Complementar dos Liceus (Certificate of the Completion of a Lycee).

In 1987 the middle school was abolished and instrução primária (primary education) became a single six-year cycle. Secondary education became a single five-year stage with two cycles: a three-year general track followed by two-year pre-university preparation, successful completion of which leads to a Curso Complementar do Ensíno Secondario (Certificate of the Completion of Secondary Education).

Cape Verde has no university. Several teachertraining institutions and one industrial-commercial institution exist, but none of these institutions is considered postsecondary.

A law effective December 29, 1996, states that Cape Verde will provide equal access to educational success for special needs students. The law supports the integration of special education into regular classrooms in situations that support student learning.

Outside influences also impact Cape Verde education. For example, the World Bank and its arm, the International Development Association (IDA), were investing in educational and development programs (1999) to increase access to primary school, to improve classrooms, and to raise teacher and workforce skills to enable the workforce to respond to social and economic goals.


Almeida, Raymond. "Chronological References." Cabo Verde/Cape Verdean American, 14 March 1997. Available from

Cape Verde Embassy Fact Sheet, 1999. Available from

Caswell, Linda J., and Isabel Pina-Britt. "The Importance of Using Cape Verdean Creole in the Classroom." Cimboa: A Journal of Letters, Arts and Studies, 31 July 1998. Available from http://www.softlink.web.

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Fact-book 2000. Directorate of Intelligence, 1 January 2000. Available from

"Country Profile: Cape Verde." ABC News, 1998. Available from

Friere, Paulo. Pedagogy in Process. New York: Seabury Press, 1978.

Janet Matthews Information Services. "Cape Verde Country Profile." Africa Review World of Information, May 1996.

"Legislation Pertaining to Special Needs Education." UNESCO, February 1996. ERIC No: ED407777.

Macedo, Donaldo. "The Politics of an Emancipatory Literacy in Cape Verde." In Rewriting Literary: Culture and the Discourse of the Other, eds. Candace Mitchell and Kathleen Weiler, 147-59. Critical Studies in Education and Culture Series. Ed. Henry A. Giroux and Paulo Freire. New York: Bergin and Garvey, 1991.

Miller, Yawu. "Alphabet Is a Start for Cape Verdean Creole." Bay State Banner, 31 December 1998. Available from

Sevigny, Joseph A. Cape Verde: A Country Guide Series Report from the AACRAO-AID Project. American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, 1995. ERIC Document 388127.

"WB Approves $22.1 Million for the Republic of Cape Verde." The Cape Verdean News, 31 July 1999. Available from

Emily Dial-Driver

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Cape Verde

Cape Verde

Official name : Republic of Cape Verde

Area: 4,033 square kilometers (1,557 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Fogo (Pico de Cano) (2,829 meters/9,281 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Northern and Western

Time zone: 10 a.m. = noon GMT

Longest distances: 332 kilometers (206 miles) from southeast to northwest and 299 kilometers (186 miles) from northeast to southwest

Land boundaries: None

Coastline: 965 kilometers (598 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers ( 12 nautical miles)


Cape Verde is an archipelago (chain of islands) off the coast of West Africa. The country consists of ten islands and five islets (small islands) located in the North Atlantic Ocean just west of Senegal. The islands are generally divided into northern (Barlavento) and southern (Sotavento) groups. With a total land area of 4,033 square kilometers (1,557 square miles), the country is slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island. The country is divided into fourteen districts.


Cape Verde claims no territories or dependencies.


The cold Atlantic Canary Current, in the Atlantic Ocean, creates an arid (almost no rain) atmosphere around the islands. Cape Verde has two seasons. Rainfall is scarce and generally occurs in the latter half of the year. Annual precipitation is only about 13 centimeters (5 inches) in the northern islands and 30 centimeters (12 inches) in the southern ones. Droughts (periodic lack of rainfall) often last for years and can devastate the environment.

Season Months Average Temperature
Winter (dry) December through June 21°C (70°F)
Summer (slightly rainier) July through November 27°C (81°F)


Though the Cape Verde islands were formed by volcanic activity, there is currently only one active volcano (Mount Fogo, also called Pico de Cano) on the islands. Most of the islands are mountainous with steep cliffs and ravines. The two districts of Barlavento and Sotavento were determined by the direction of the prevailing northeasterly winds. Barlavento lies windward (closest to the direction from which the wind blows), while Sotavento is leeward (the direction to which the wind blows).


Seacoast and Undersea Features

The islands of Cape Verde are completely surrounded by the waters of the North Atlantic Ocean. The cold Canary Current runs adjacent to the islands, providing an ideal environment for a fishing industry. The Canary Current is so named because it flows southwestward from Spain through the Canary Islands. The waters around Cape Verde support vibrant colonies of aquatic life, including parrot fish, barracuda, moray eels, several species of whales, dolphins, porpoises, and turtles.

Sea Inlets and Straits

Cape Verde has several fine harbors, with Mindelo on São Vicente being the principal one.

Islands and Archipelagos

The Barlavento islands of Cape Verde include Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Luzia (uninhabited), São Nicolau, Sal, Boa Vista, plus two islets. The Sotavento islands include Brava, Fogo, São Tiago, Maio, and three islets.

Coastal Features

The beaches at Baia das Gates on Boa Vista are the most popular among tourists.


There are no significant lakes in Cape Verde.


Because of the general drought-like conditions of the islands, there are no significant rivers in Cape Verde. Several small temporary streams may form after heavier rainfalls. There are four islands that have year-round running streams, but these contain very little water.


Because of Cape Verde's relatively cool climate, its barren, dry islands are not classified as desert.


With drought, cyclones, volcanic activity, and problems with insect infestation, Cape Verde's land problems are recurrent. Only 11 percent of the land is arable (able to support agriculture) and excessive soil erosion has occurred from raising crops and grazing animals on land that is too arid for such purposes.


Except for the low-lying islands of Sal, Boa Vista, and Maio, the Cape Verde islands are quite mountainous with both rugged cliffs and deep ravines. The highest areas receive the most moisture, not as rainfall, but from the condensation of moisture that accumulates off the slopes of the mountains from the Atlantic currents. The terrain is able to support lush vegetation and trees that are typical of both temperate and tropical climates.

The highest peak in Cape Verde is Mount Fogo (also called Pico de Cano), located on the island of Fogo. Mount Fogo stands 2,829 meters (9,281 feet) high and is the only active volcano on the islands, erupting most recently in 1995.


Deep ravines interlace the cliffs and mountains of the country.


There are no plateau regions on Cape Verde.


There are no major man-made structures affecting the geography of Cape Verde.


Irwin, Aisling, and Colum Wilson. Cape Verde Islands: The Bradt Travel Guide. Old Saybrook, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 1998.

U.S. Department of State. Background Notes, Cape Verde. (accessed June 13, 2003).

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Cape Verde

Cape Verde

Basic Data

Official Country Name: Republic of Cape Verde
Region (Map name): Africa
Population: 401,343
Language(s): Portuguese, Crioulo
Literacy rate: 71.6%

Cape Verde is an archipelago of small, volcanic islands off the coast of western Africa in the North Atlantic Ocean. Colonized by the Portugese in the fifteenth century, the islands won their independence from Portugal in 1975. The population of Cape Verde is approximately 400,000, and the literacy rate is about 71 percent. Portugese is the official language, but most citizens speak Creole or Crioulo, which mixes Creole Portugese with West African words. A President acts as the chief of state, and a Prime Minister heads the government. The legislative body is the popularly elected National Assembly. Cape Verde is a largely poor country, and government launched programs in the 1990s and early twenty-first century to develop the private sector and attract foreign investment. Most of the current economy is service-related, including commerce, transportation and public services.

When the new President took office in 2001, some agencies that monitor world press freedoms reported allegations of governmental interference with the media. The new authorities shut down the country's only daily newspaper, the Horizonte, citing a need to develop new information policies. The country does have other publications, however. A Semana is a weekly newspaper.Opiniao, Noticias, and Agaviva are monthly periodicals. Novo Jornal Cabo Verde is a government publication that appears twice weekly, and Terra Nova is issued monthly by the Catholic Church. All publications are printed in Portugese.

Cape Verde has 11 FM radio stations but no AM stations. There are approximately 73,000 radios on the island. There is one television station broadcasting to approximately 2,000. Cabonet is the country's only Internet service provider.


"Cape Verde Islands," Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). World Fact Book 2001. Available from

"Country Report: Cape Verde," The Committee to Protect Journalists, 1998. Available from

U.S. Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. "Cape Verde Country Report." Human Rights Practices for 1998 Report. Available from

"Cape Verde," 2002. Available from

Jenny B. Davis

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Cape Verde

Cape Verde

Culture Name

Cape Verdean


Identification. The islands are named for the Cap Vert peninsula in West Africa, the nearest land formation. Cape Verdeans identify strongly with the culture of their individual islands.

Location and Geography. Cape Verde comprises ten islands, nine of which are inhabited, and is located 375 miles (600 kilometers) off the coast of Senegal. The combined area of all the islands is 1,557 square miles (4,033 square kilometers), roughly the size of Rhode Island. The islands vary in geographical characteristics. Sal, Boavista, Maio, and São Vicente are flat and desert-like, with stretches of sand dunes. Santiago, Santo Antão, Fogo, and São Nicolau are more mountainous and arable, although all the islands have a long history of drought. They are all of volcanic origin; Fogo, the only volcano still active, last erupted in 1995. The capital, Praia, is on the island of Santiago which is the largest in terms of area and population and the first one to be settled.

Demography. The population of Cape Verde is 430,000. Of these, 85,000 live in the capital. Because of the country's long history of emigration, there are an additional estimated one million Cape Verdeans living abroad, mainly in the United States, western Europe, and Africa. The United States Cape Verdean population, concentrated in the New England states, is estimated to be as large as the population in Cape Verde itself.

Linguistic Affiliation. The official language is Portuguese. It is used in school, for official functions, and for all written communication. The vernacular is a Creole, which is essentially fifteenth-century Portuguese with a simplified vocabulary and influences from Mandingo and several Senegambian languages. Each island has its own distinctive Creole in which its inhabitants take pride.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. The Cape Verde Islands were uninhabited until the Portuguese first landed in 1460. They settled in an area of Santiago which they called Ribeira Grande and which they used as a slave-trade post between Africa and the New World. Some Africans stayed on the island and worked as slaves on the latifundas, or plantations, there. Ribeira Grande experienced several pirate attacks, and was abandoned after a French assault in 1712. After 1876, with the decline of slave trade, the islands lost much of their economic value to the Portuguese. The effects of drought and famine were compounded by poor administration and government corruption. Cape Verde regained some wealth in the late nineteenth century due to its convenient location on major trade routes between Europe, South America, and Africa and to the opening of a coal and submarine cable station in the port city of Mindelo. This prosperity again declined after World War I, however, and the country experienced several devastating famines. It was not until after the second world war that relative prosperity began to return.

In 1951, the Portuguese changed Cape Verde's status from colony to overseas province and in 1961, granted full Portuguese citizenship to all Cape Verdeans. A war of independence was fought from 1974 to 1975 in Guinea-Bissau, another Portuguese colony on the mainland also seeking autonomy. The islands became an independent republic in 1975.

National Identity. Cape Verdean culture is a unique mixture of European and African elements. National identity is rather fragmented, mainly as a result of the geographical division of the islands. The northern, or barlavento islands, tend to identify more with the Portuguese colonizers, whereas the southern, or sotavento islands (Santiago in particular) have a closer cultural affinity with Africa. Cape Verdeans have a strong sense of pride in the specific culture of their own island.

Ethnic Relations. Cape Verde is a mestizo society. Seventy-eight percent of the population is Creole, that is, of mixed African and European blood. Of the remainder, 28 percent is black African, and 1 percent is white.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

Praia, the capital of Cape Verde, is a rapidly growing urban center. Its growth has been unimpeded by zoning laws or organization which has allowed it to spread out into nearby land in a haphazard way. Mindelo, the second largest city with a population of 47,000, is located on the northern island of São Vicente and provides a marked contrast as a clean, orderly city with a European feel. Many of the islands combine old colonial architecture with the new cinderblock structures that are sprouting up to house the burgeoning population. The traditional houses that dot the countryside are stone structures with thatched or tiled roofs.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Corn is the staple food of Cape Verde. The national dish, cachupa, is a stew of hominy, beans, and whatever meat or vegetables may be available. Other common foods include rice, beans, fish, potatoes, and manioc. A traditional breakfast is cuscus, a steamed cornbread, eaten with honey and milk or coffee. Cape Verdeans generally eat a large lunch in the mid-afternoon and a small, late dinner. Grog, or sugar cane liquor, is manufactured on the islands and is a popular drink, particularly among the men.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Many Catholic saints' days are observed throughout the year. Food and its preparation play a large part in these celebrations. Women usually spend the few days prior to the feast pounding corn for the cachupa, cleaning and cutting vegetables, and preparing meat. Xerem, a form of cachupa in which the corn is more finely ground, is often served.

Basic Economy. The economy is primarily based on agriculture although only 10 percent of the land is arable. Roughly one-third of the population are farmers. The islands produce bananas, corn, beans, sugarcane, coffee, and some fruits and vegetables, but supply less than one-fifth of the country's needs. Much of the rest comes in the form of aid from the United States, Portugal, Holland, and other countries in western Europe. Remittances from Cape Verdeans living abroad also make a considerable contribution to the economy and GNP.

Land Tenure and Property. Cape Verdeans have a communal attitude towards property and freely borrow and lend possessions. Farm land is generally privately owned but many farming communities form organizations to oversee its use and distribute pooled funds in the development of such things as corrals or plant nurseries.

Commercial Activities. The majority of goods produced in Cape Verde are agricultural. Most towns have a small market where fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish are sold.

Major Industries. Agriculture accounts for one-third of the GNP, services and transportation for one-half. This is due, in part to the growth of tourism which has been enhanced by the construction of luxury hotels and resorts on several islands. Construction comprises nearly one-fourth of the GNP as the country continues to urbanize and the population expands.

Trade. Cape Verde's main trade partners are countries of the European Union (Portugal, France, Holland, Germany, Spain, and Italy). Small amounts of fish, salt, lobster, bananas, shoes, and pharmaceutical products are exported. Large quantities of food, construction and building materials, machinery, and textiles are imported.

Division of Labor. Labor is not strictly divided along gender lines. Women and men do heavy physical labor; however, domestic work is an exclusively female domain. Children often follow the same trade as their parents. They begin at a very young age, especially if they come from farming or fishing families. Older people continue to work as long as they are able, sometimes modifying strenuous tasks. It is not unusual to see men and women in their seventies harvesting beans or hauling rocks at a construction site.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. There is little class distinction in Cape Verde because the vast majority of the population is poor. There is a small but growing middle class in the towns and cities and virtually no upper class. Those of higher socio-economic backgrounds tend to identify culturally with Europe and to think of themselves as more "European," often because they have spent time abroad.

Symbols of Social Stratification. Cape Verdeans take pride in their dress and personal appearance. The most highly valued attire is American brand names popular among African Americans. These clothes are often an indicator of class; however, the poorest Cape Verdeans sometimes have relatives in the United States who send gifts of clothing.

Political Life

Government. Since Cape Verde won independence from Portugal in 1975, it has had a democratic multi-party system of government with proportional representation through electoral districts. The unicameral national assembly is made up of seventy-two elected deputies including six chosen by the Cape Verdean population abroad.

Leadership and Political Officials. The president is elected for a five-year term and appoints a prime minister. There are two main political parties: African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICY) and Movement for Democracy (MPD). In the general population identification with one party or the other is strong and highly personal. Local elections are occasions for rallies with music and dancing, parades, and public shouting matches.

Social Problems and Control. What little crime there is in Cape Verde consists mainly of petty theft and robbery. This is more common in the cities, particularly in Praia. The code of conduct is implicitly enforced by social pressure. Personal reputation is of paramount importance; for this reason, the court system is overrun with slander cases.

Military Activity. Cape Verde has a small military of eleven hundred active duty personnel. Of these, 91 percent are in the army and 9 percent are in the air force. Cape Verde spends roughly 1 percent of its GNP on its military.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

Social security programs have been introduced, but are limited in scope. The government provides some assistance for the poor and the elderly, as well as free health care, but the majority of social welfare is provided by individual families and communities.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

Several foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are a presence; among these, the German organization Dywidag has helped develop the ports. The U.S. Peace Corps sends volunteers to work in the education system and local government. Portuguese aid groups are also present in Cape Verde.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. Women take care of all domestic tasks including cooking, cleaning, and child rearing. At the same time, they also make substantial contributions in other sectors of the work force, including farming, construction, and commerce. Women are often the sole economic supporters of their families. However, they are proportionally under-represented in the white-collar professions and in the political system.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. While the genders are legally recognized as equal, there are broad de facto disparities in rights and power. Women (mothers in particular) are respected for the immense workload they shoulder, yet they often are expected to defer to men.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Legal and church weddings are uncommon in Cape Verde. More often than not, a woman will simply sai di casa (leave her family's house) to move in with her boyfriend. This is often occasioned by the woman becoming pregnant. After four years of cohabitation, a relationship acquires the status of common-law marriage. While polygamy is not legal, it is customary for men (married or not) to be sleeping with several women at once.

Domestic Unit. Traditionally, several generations of a family live together in the same house. Childrearing is communal, and living situations are fluid; children often stay with aunts, uncles, or other relatives, especially during the school year. Due to emigration and de facto polygamy, there are a great many households headed by single mothers.


Infant Care. Seven days after a baby is born, the parents throw a big party called a sete. Like any other party, it is an occasion for dancing and drinking. At midnight the guests file in to the baby's room and sing to it as a protection against evil spirits. Infants are coddled and held. Mothers often tie small babies to their backs and carry them along to work.

Child Rearing and Education. Children are treated with affection, but are reprimanded strictly for misbehavior. Corporal punishment is not uncommon. Children are expected to work at the family's trade, and even if the parents are professionals, children do a good deal of housework. Obedience and deference to elders is inculcated early. It is not uncommon for an adult to grab any child on the street and ask him or her to run an errand.

Education is mandatory and free between the ages of seven and fourteen. About 90 percent of children attend school. Each island has a high school that goes through at least eleventh grade. High school students pay an education tax on a sliding scale based on their parents' income.

Higher Education. Cape Verde is still in the process of establishing an institution of higher learning. There are teacher certification schools in Praia and one in Mindelo. To obtain any other degree past high school, it is necessary to go abroad. A higher degree is of little use in the Cape Verdean job market, and the vast majority of those who leave to study do not return.


Cape Verdeans are an extremely generous and hospitable people. Even the poorest take pride in presenting guests with a meal. It is considered rude to eat in front of others without sharing, and for this reason one does not eat in a public setting such as on the street or on a bus.

Cape Verdeans stand close together when talking and are physically demonstrative, often touching and holding hands (men as well as women). Greetings are somewhat lengthy, and include shaking hands (or kissing for women), and inquiring about each other's health and family. This is usually done each time two people meet, even if it is more than once in the same day.


Religious Beliefs. Ninety-eight percent of Cape Verdeans are Roman Catholic. The Nazarene church is also represented as are Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, and Evangelical Christians. There is a history of several Jewish settlements that dates back to the inquisition, but they are now extinct.

Rituals and Holy Places. Each town has a church, but most Cape Verdeans are non-practicing Catholics. However, saints' days are often the basis of community-wide parties involving dancing, drinking, and food. One family, neighborhood, or town usually takes charge of the celebration for a given saint.

Death and the Afterlife. Despite its relatively secular atmosphere, rituals surrounding death are strictly observed. Funerals are large events attended by much of the community. The procession is accompanied by mourners who perform a highly stylized, musical wailing. Family members of the deceased dress in black for a full year after the death and are forbidden to dance or play music.

Medicine and Health Care

Cape Verde provides its citizens with free health care through small hospitals on each island. Facilities and resources are poor but are more advanced than many in West Africa. The best hospitals are in Praia and Mindelo, and people are often sent there for treatment. The main health concerns are infectious and parasitic diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, bronchitis, and gastrointestinal ailments. These are caused mainly by malnutrition and poor sanitation. The average life expectancy is 62 years, and the infant mortality rate is the lowest in West Africa.

Secular Celebrations

New Year's Day is celebrated on 1 January. Amilcar Cabral Day (24 January), recognizes the birthday of the liberator of Cape Verde, one of the leaders in the war of independence. Independence Day is celebrated on 5 July.

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. There is a Cape Verdean Cultural Center in Praia, which stages performances and exhibitions and sells books, music, and artifacts.

Literature. There is a small but growing body of Cape Verdean literature. Most of it is written in Portuguese, but a movement to develop a standardized written form of Creole has caused several books to be published in this language as well. Written literature is strongly influenced by the tradition of oral story telling which finds its roots in both Africa and Europe. A predominant theme in both literature and music is saudade, a sense of longing or homesickness, usually the result of emigration and the ensuing separation of families.

Graphic Arts. Graphic art production is limited. Crocheting is popular among women. Textiles were traditionally produced on large looms in a time-consuming process but this is rare today. The island of Boavista is known for its clay pottery; Fogo is known for small carvings made from hardened lava. There is also some basket weaving, embroidery, woodworking, and other craft production, but the preponderance of artifacts sold at the markets is imported from Africa.

Performance Arts. Music and dance are a focal point of Cape Verdean culture. Traditional forms of music include funana, which is played on an accordion and an iron bar that serves as a rhythm instrument. Batuque is performed by a circle of women who beat out rhythms on plastic sacks held between their legs. Both types of music are very African-influenced and are particular to the island of Santiago. Another traditional form of music is the morna which is a slower, more Portuguese-influenced ballad. Each type of music has a specific dance that goes with it. Popular music has a largely synthesized feel.

The State of the Physical and Social Sciences

There are no research facilities or laboratories for physical sciences in Cape Verde.


Bratton, Michael. "Deciphering Africa's Divergent Transitions." Political Science Quarterly, Spring 1997.

Carreira, Antonio. People of the Cape Verde Islands: Exploitation and Emigration. Trans. and ed. by Christopher Fyfe, 1982.

Davidson, Basil. Fortunate Isles: A Study in African Transformation, 1989.

Davidson, Basil. No Fist Is Big Enough to Hide the Sky: the Liberation of Guinea and Cape Verde, 1981.

Hills, C. A. R. "Portugal and Her Empire, 1497-1997."Contemporary Review, July 1997.

Irwin, Aisling and Colum Wilson. Cape Verde Islands: The Bradt Travel Guide, 1998.

Khouri-Dagher, Nadia. "Teachers Under Pressure." UNESCO Sources, April 1998.

Lobban, Richard A. Cape Verde: Crioulo Colony to Independent Nation, 1998.

Meintel, Deirdre. Race, Culture and Portuguese Colonialism in Cabo Verde, 1984.

Mozer, Gerald M. "Neglected or Forgotten Authors of Lusophone Africa." World Literature Today, Winter 1999.

Shaw, Caroline S., ed. Cape Verde, 1991.

Teixeira, Erin. "Exploring a Racial Riddle in Cape Verde." Los Angeles Times, 18 December 2000.

Web Sites

Cape Verde Reference Page.

Embassy of the Republic of Cape Verde to the United States and Canada Homepage.

Eleanor Stanford

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Cape Verde

Cape Verde Republic in the e Atlantic Ocean, the most westerly point of Africa. It is made up of 15 islands divided into two groups (Windward and Leeward). The capital is Praia on São Tiago. Cape Verde was colonized by the Portuguese in 1462, and served as a base for the slave trade. The islands gained independence in 1975. Industries: agriculture, fishing and salt. Area: 4033sq km (1557sq mi). Pop. (2002 est.) 449,100.

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Cape Verde

Cape Verde


The people of Cape Verde are called Cape Verdenas. About 70 percent are descendants of Portuguese colonists and their African slaves, who came, most often, from what is today Guinea-Bissau. Another 28 percent of the inhabitants are entirely African.

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Verde, Cape

Cape Verde (vûrd) [Port.,=green], Fr. Cap Vert, peninsula, extending into the Atlantic Ocean, W Senegal; the westernmost point of Africa. Dakar is located there. The cape was discovered by the Portuguese in 1445. The Republic of Cape Verde is c.350 mi (560 km) to the west.

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