Cape Verde country profile

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Poor in natural resources, prone to drought and with little arable land, the Cape Verde islands have won a reputation for achieving political and economic stability.

The former Portuguese colony comprises 10 islands and five islets, all but three of which are mountainous. The archipelago lies around 500 km off the west coast of Africa.

It was at one time an important centre of the slave trade.

During the 20th century severe droughts caused the deaths of 200,000 people and prompted heavy emigration. Today, more people with origins in Cape Verde live outside the country than inside it. The money that they send home brings in much-needed foreign currency.

FACTS

Republic of Cabo Verde

Capital: Praia

  • Population 505,000

  • Area 4,033 sq km (1,557 sq miles)

  • Languages Portuguese, Crioulo (a mixture of archaic Portuguese and African words)

  • Religion Christianity

  • Life expectancy 71 years (men), 78 years (women)

  • Currency Cabo Verdean escudo

Bojan Kveder

LEADERS

President: Jose Maria Neves

Image source, Vatican Pool/Getty Images

Centre-left opposition candidate Jose Maria Neves won the October election, ending a ten-year hold on the presidency by the centre-right MPD party.

President Neves served as prime minister from 2000-2016, and faces the task of restoring stability to the tourism-driven economy after the recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

His PAICV and the MPD have dominated politics since independence from Portugal in 1975, and have alternated in power since multi-party democracy was introduced in 1991.

MEDIA

Image source, Bojan Kveder

Cape Verde was ranked second highest among African countries listed in the Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index in 2014.

Much of the media is state-run, but there is an active private press and a growing number of private broadcasters.

There were 200,000 internet users by 2014 (Internetlivestats.com).

TIMELINE

Image source, Bojan Kveder
Image caption,
Ribeira Grande, renamed Cidade Velha, was the first European colonial outpost in the tropics. The fortress is on the UN's World Heritage List

1462 - Portuguese settlers land on São Tiago. Cape Verde becomes a centre for the trade of cheap manufactured items such as firearms, rum and cloth in exchange for slaves, ivory, and gold.

1495 - Cape Verde becomes a Portuguese crown colony.

1960 - Many Cape Verdeans join liberation war against Portuguese rule in Guinea-Bissau. The struggle is led by the African Party for Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC).

1975 - Cape Verde becomes independent.

1981 - African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV) becomes the country's sole party.

1992 - A new constitution brings in a multi-party system.

Image source, Bojan Kveder
Image caption,
Two parties, the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV) and the Movement for Democracy (MFD), dominate island politics

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