Cape Verde

Full Name
Republic of Cape Verde
Origins of name: Named ‘Cabo Verde’ by the Portuguese, after the nearby Cap Vert on the Senegalese coast

Current Leader
Jorge Carlos Fonseca

Jorge Carlos Fonseca delivers a speech after winning Cape Verde's presidential elections on August 21, 2011 in Praia


Cape Verde is an island country, spanning an archipelago on the north Atlantic off the western coast of Africa, opposite Senegal and Mali
The previously uninhabited islands were colonised by the Portuguese from the 15th century and won independence in 1975


Form of Government
President is Head of State, elected by popular vote for five-year term (eligible for second term)
Head of Government is the Prime Minister

Government structure
President, Prime Minister, Council of Ministers appointed by President on recommendation of Prime Minister, Unicameral Parliament

Military Statistics
Manpower fit for military service: Males age 16-49: 84,967 and Females age 16-49: 90,154
Expenditures: 0.7% of GDP
Branches: Army, Coast Guard (including maritime air wing)

Former Rulers
1975 to 1991 – Aristides Maria Pereira
1991 to 2001 – Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro

2001 to 2011 - Pedro Pires

Altitude: 7m
Population: 113, 364 people

Size: 491,575 (2010)
Life expectancy: 71.6 years
Gender Make-Up: Male – 48.7%, Female – 51.3%

Area: 4,033sqkm
Land boundaries: n/a

GDP per capita
$ 4,000 (2011)

$ 3,900 (2010)

Major Languages
Portuguese (official), Creole

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

National Make-up
Creole (mulatto) 71%, African 28% Congo slaves), European 1%

Natural Resources
Salt, Basalt rock, Limestone, Kaolin, Fish, Clay, Gypsum

Main exports
Fuel, Shoes, Garments, Fish, Hides

Land Use
Arable land: 11.41%
Permanent crops: 0.74%
Other: 87.85%

Monetary Unit/Currency
Cape Verdean escudo

Dialling Code

Internet Code

Main Port: Port Grande
Airport: Amilcar Cabral International Airport located 2km west-southwest of Espargos on Sal Island

Modern issues

Soil erosion; deforestation due to demand for wood used as fuel
Shortages of fresh water. Even though surrounded by ocean, 25% of population do not have regular access to fresh drinking water
Environmental damage has threatened several species of birds and reptiles
Illegal beach sand extraction

Cape Verde is among the most politically stable countries of Africa
Mr Fonseca was the candidate for the main opposition Movement for Democracy and won presidential elections with a decisive second-round victory in August 2011, beating the ruling party candidate

Cape Verde has few natural resources and suffers from scant rainfall and limited fresh water
Only 4 of the 10 main islands (Santiago, Santo Antão, Fogo, and Brava) support significant agricultural production. Over 90 per cent of all food consumed in Cape Verde is imported
Remittances from overseas Cape Verdeans constitute 12% of the national budget

Today, more Cape Verdeans live abroad than in Cape Verde itself. The largest Cape Verdean concentration is in the US (New England; about 500,000), followed by Sao Tome and Principe (200,000), Portugal (80,000), Angola (45,000), Senegal (25,000), Netherlands (20,000) and Italy (10,000)

Cape Verde continues the battle against the narcotics trade, with success. One huge victory was when police seized of 1.5 tons of cocaine in 2011 with a street value of $100 million

The government’s policy to employ youth has still not yet taken effect, and with more than 45,000 unemployed youths Mr. Fonseca’s programme on the modernisation of the economy and of the state is under pressure

Foreign Affairs
Cape Verde has excellent links with many African countries but concentrates on Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) countries of Portugal, Brazil, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Mozambique, and Sao Tome and Principe

The Major Conflicts
Since independence, Cape Verde has not been involved in any major internal or external conflict

What to see?
Albuquerque Square, the old city hall, built in the 19th century
‘Monumento de Diogo Gomes’, named after the Portuguese navigator, who first chanced on the islands in 1460

Popular Sports
Martial arts

Famous Sportsmen and Sportswomen
Patrick Vieira – Originally from the Cape Verdean community in Dakar, currently a French citizen. Plays soccer for French National Team
Fredson Gomes – Tae Kwon Do; Olympian
Dana Barros – Former NBA basketball player with the Boston Celtics

Imagine a country whose diaspora is more than double the resident population, and you have Cape Verde

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