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Country profile of Cape Verde

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

The former Portuguese colony consists of ten islands and five islets, all but three of which are mountainous. The archipelago is located about 500 kilometers off the west coast of Africa.

It was once an important center of the slave trade.

During the 20th century, severe droughts caused the deaths of 200,000 people and led to heavy emigration. Nowadays, more people with an origin from Cape Verde live outside the country than inside it. The money they send home provides much-needed foreign currency.

  • Capital: Praia

  • Area: 4,033 square kilometers

  • Population: 561,900

  • Languages: Portuguese, Cape Verdean Creole

  • Life expectancy: 69 years (men) 77 years (women)

Chairman: Jose Maria Neves

Cape Verdean President Jose Maria Neves

Center-left opposition candidate Jose Maria Neves won the October 2021 elections, ending a 10-year hold on the presidency of the center-right MPD party.

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President Neves served as Prime Minister from 2000 to 2016 and his job has been to restore stability to the tourism-driven economy after the recession caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

His PAICV and the MPD have dominated politics since Portugal’s independence in 1975, and have alternated since multiparty democracy was introduced in 1991.

Houses in Cape Verde

Houses in Cape Verde

Cape Verde stands out in the region for its legal framework for journalists, says Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and press freedom is guaranteed by the constitution.

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

There are five television networks and about ten radio stations.

World Heritage Site Cidade Velha

Ribeira Grande, renamed Cidade Velha, was the first European colonial outpost in the tropics

Important dates in the history of Cape Verde:

1462 – Portuguese colonists land on Santiago – before the arrival of the Europeans, the islands were uninhabited. Cape Verde becomes a center for the trade in cheaply manufactured items such as firearms, rum and cloth and plays a key role in the Atlantic slave trade.

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1495 – Becomes a Portuguese crown colony.

1956 – Amilcar Cabral, born in Cape Verde, is co-founder of the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) in Guinea-Bissau.

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

1975 – Cape Verde becomes independent and adopts a constitution that aims at unity with Guinea-Bissau.

1980 – Cape Verde abandons plans for unity with Guinea-Bissau after the coup in the latter country.

1981 – The African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV) replaces the PAIGC and becomes the country’s sole party.

1992 – A new constitution brings with it a multi-party system.

2007 – The Council of the World Trade Organization (WTO) approves the accession of Cape Verde to the organization.

2013 – The government requests that the Portuguese version of the country’s name, Cabo Verde, be used as part of the country’s official name when displayed in other languages.

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Old mansions of trading companies or armazens in Mindelo on Sao Vicente, Cape Verde

Tourism is increasingly playing a key role in the economic development of Cape Verde

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