We're always looking for ways to make better. Have an idea? See something that needs fixing? Let us know!


The uninhabited islands were discovered and colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th century; Cape Verde subsequently became a trading center for African slaves and later an important coaling and resupply stop for whaling and transatlantic shipping. Following independence in 1975, and a tentative interest in unification with Guinea-Bissau, a one-party system was established and maintained until multi-party elections were held in 1990. Cape Verde continues to exhibit one of Africa's most stable democratic governments. Repeated droughts during the second half of the 20th century caused significant hardship and prompted heavy emigration. As a result, Cape Verde's expatriate population is greater than its domestic one. Most Cape Verdeans have both African and Portuguese antecedents.



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

Geographic Coordinates:

 16 00 N, 24 00 W


 Total: 4,033 sq km
Land: 4,033 sq km
Water: 0 sq km

Area - Comparative:

 Slightly larger than Rhode Island

Land Boundaries:

 0 km


 965 km (Rank: 86)

Maritime Claims:

 Measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
Territorial sea: 12 nm
Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


 Temperate; warm, dry summer; precipitation meager and erratic


 Steep, rugged, rocky, volcanic

Elevation Extremes:

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

Natural Resources:

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

Land Use:

 Arable land: 11.41%
Permanent crops: 0.74%
Other: 87.85% (2005)

Irrigated Land:

 30 sq km (2008)

Total Renewable Water Resources:

 0.3 cu km (1990)

Freshwater Withdrawal:

 Total: 0.02 cu km/yr (7%/2%/91%)
Per capita: 39 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural Hazards:

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

Volcanism: Fogo (elev. 2,829 m), which last erupted in 1995, is Cape Verde's only active volcano

Environment - Current Issues:

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

Environment - International Agreements:

 Party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands

Signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - Note:

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

Back to the Top



 Noun: Cape Verdean(s)
Adjective: Cape Verdean

Ethnic Groups:

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


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


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


 516,100 (July 2011 est.)

Age Structure:

 0-14 years: 32.6% (male 84,545/female 83,718)
15-64 years: 61.9% (male 154,697/female 164,917)
65 years and over: 5.5% (male 10,648/female 17,575) (2011 est.)

Median Age:

 Total: 22.7 years
Male: 21.9 years
Female: 23.5 years (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate:

 1.446% (2011 est.)

Birth Rate:

 21.47 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death Rate:

 6.34 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

Net Migration Rate:

 -0.66 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)


 Urban population: 61% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization: 2.4% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major Cities - Population:

 PRAIA (capital) 125,000 (2009)

Sex Ratio:

 At birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.61 male(s)/female
Total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Maternal Mortality Rate:

 94 deaths/100,000 live births (2008)

Infant Mortality Rate:

 Total: 26.94 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 30.8 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 22.96 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth:

 Total population: 70.7 years
Male: 68.51 years
Female: 72.96 years (2011 est.)

Total Fertility Rate:

 2.49 children born/woman (2011 est.)

Health Expenditures:

 3.9% of GDP (2009)

Physicians Density:

 0.572 physicians/1,000 population (2008)

Hospital Bed Density:

 2.07 beds/1,000 population (2009)

Drinking Water Source:

 Urban: 85% of population
Rural: 82% of population
Total: 84% of population
Urban: 15% of population
Rural: 17% of population
Total: 16% of population (2008)

Sanitation Facility Access:

 Urban: 65% of population
Rural: 38% of population
Total: 54% of population
Urban: 35% of population
Rural: 62% of population
Total: 46% of population (2008)

HIV/AIDS - Adult Prevalence Rate:

 0.04% (2001 est.)

HIV/AIDS - People Living With HIV/AIDS:

 775 (2001)

HIV/AIDS - Deaths:

 225 (as of 2001)

Education Expenditures:

 5.9% of GDP (2009)


 Definition: age 15 and over can read and write
Total population: 76.6%
Male: 85.8%
Female: 69.2% (2003 est.)

Average Years of Schooling:

 Total: 12 years
Male: 11 years
Female: 12 years (2009)

Back to the Top


Country Name:

 Conventional long form: Republic of Cape Verde
Conventional short form: Cape Verde
Local long form: Republica de Cabo Verde
Local short form: Cabo Verde

Government Type:



 Name: Praia
Geographic coordinates: 14 55 N, 23 31 W
Time difference: UTC-1 (4 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative Divisions:

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


 5 July 1975 (from Portugal)

National Holiday:

 Independence Day, 5 July (1975)


 25 September 1992; a major revision on 23 November 1995 substantially increased the powers of the president; a 1999 revision created the position of national ombudsman (Provedor de Justica)

Legal System:

 Civil law system of Portugal

International Law Organization Participation:

 Has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt


 18 years of age; universal

Executive Branch:

 Chief of state: President Jorge Carlos FONSECA (since 9 September 2011)

Head of government: Prime Minister Jose Maria Pereira NEVES (since 1 February 2001)

Cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister

Elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 7 August 2011 with a second round runoff on 21 August 2011; prime minister nominated by the National Assembly and appointed by the president

Election results: percent of vote (second round) - Jorge Carlos FONSECA 53.4%, Manuel Inocencio SOUSA 46.6%

Legislative Branch:

 Unicameral National Assembly or Assembleia Nacional (72 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)

Elections: last held on 6 February 2011 (next to be held by 2016)

Election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - PAICV 38, MPD 32, UCID 2

Judicial Branch:

 Supreme Tribunal of Justice or Supremo Tribunal de Justia; Court of Audit; Military Courts; Fiscal and Customs Courts

Political Parties and Leaders:

 African Party for Independence of Cape Verde or PAICV [Jose Maria Pereira NEVES, chairman]; Democratic and Independent Cape Verdean Union or UCID [Antonio MONTEIRO]; Democratic Christian Party or PDC [Manuel RODRIGUES]; Democratic Renovation Party or PRD [Victor FIDALGO]; Movement for Democracy or MPD [Jorge SANTOS]; Party for Democratic Convergence or PCD [Dr. Eurico MONTEIRO]; Party of Work and Solidarity or PTS [Isaias RODRIGUES]; Social Democratic Party or PSD [Joao ALEM]

Political Pressure Groups and Leaders:

 Other: environmentalists; political pressure groups

International Organization Participation:


Diplomatic Representation in the US:

 Chief of mission: Ambassador Fatima Lima VEIGA
Chancery: 3415 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
Telephone: [1] (202) 965-6820
FAX: [1] (202) 965-1207
Consulate(s) general: Boston

Diplomatic Representation From the US:

 Chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Dana BROWN
Embassy: Rua Abilio Macedo n6, Praia
Mailing address: C. P. 201, Praia
Telephone: [238] 2-60-89-00
FAX: [238] 2-61-13-55

Flag Description:

 Five unequal horizontal bands; the top-most band of blue - equal to one half the width of the flag - is followed by three bands of white, red, and white, each equal to 1/12 of the width, and a bottom stripe of blue equal to one quarter of the flag width; a circle of 10, yellow, five-pointed stars is centered on the red stripe and positioned 3/8 of the length of the flag from the hoist side; blue stands for the sea and the sky, the circle of stars represents the 10 major islands united into a nation, the stripes symbolize the road to formation of the country through peace (white) and effort (red)

National Anthem:

 Name: "Cantico da Liberdade" (Song of Freedom)
Lyrics/music: Amilcar Spencer LOPES/Adalberto Higino Tavares SILVA

Note: adopted 1996

Back to the Top


Economy - Overview:

 This island economy suffers from a poor natural resource base, including serious water shortages exacerbated by cycles of long-term drought and poor soil for agriculture on several of the islands. The economy is service oriented with commerce, transport, tourism, and public services accounting for about three-fourths of GDP. Although about 40% of the population lives in rural areas, the share of food production in GDP is low. About 82% of food must be imported. The fishing potential, mostly lobster and tuna, is not fully exploited. Cape Verde annually runs a high trade deficit financed by foreign aid and remittances from its large pool of emigrants; remittances supplement GDP by more than 20%. Despite the lack of resources, sound economic management has produced steadily improving incomes. Continued economic reforms are aimed at developing the private sector and attracting foreign investment to diversify the economy. Future prospects depend heavily on the maintenance of aid flows, the encouragement of tourism, remittances, and the momentum of the government's development program. Cape Verde became a member of the WTO in July 2008.

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):

 $1.908 billion (2010 est.)
$1.81 billion (2009 est.)
$1.747 billion (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (Official Exchange Rate):

 $1.651 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - Real Growth Rate:

 5.4% (2010 est.)
3.6% (2009 est.)
6.2% (2008 est.)

GDP - Per Capita (PPP):

 $3,800 (2010 est.)
$3,600 (2009 est.)
$3,500 (2008 est.)

Note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - Composition By Sector:

 Agriculture: 8.9%
Industry: 16.1%
Services: 75.1% (2010 est.)

Labor Force:

 196,100 (2007)

Unemployment Rate:

 21% (2000 est.)

Population Below Poverty Line:

 30% (2000)

Household Income / Consumption By Share:

 Lowest 10%: 1.9%
Highest 10%: 40.6% (2000)

Investment (Gross Fixed):

 36.1% of GDP (2010 est.)


 Revenues: $559.7 million
Expenditures: $785.5 million (2010 est.)

Taxes and Other Revenues:

 33.9% of GDP (2010 est.)

Budget Surplus / Deficit:

 -13.7% of GDP (2010 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 2.1% (2010 est.)
1% (2009 est.)

Central Bank Discount Rate:

 7.5% (31 December 2010 est.)
7.5% (31 December 2009 est.)

Commercial Bank Prime Lending Rate:

 11% (31 December 2010 est.)
11% (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Money:

 $563.4 million (31 December 2008)
$574 million (31 December 2007)

Stock of Quasi Money:

 $721.3 million (31 December 2008)
$689 million (31 December 2007)

Stock of Narrow Money:

 $640.1 million (31 December 2010 est.)
$659.2 million (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Broad Money:

 $1.441 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$1.467 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of Domestic Credit:

 $1.295 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
$1.317 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Agriculture - Products:

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


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

Industrial Production Growth Rate:

 4% (2010 est.)

Electricity - Production:

 256.5 million kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Production By Source:

 Fossil fuel: 100%
Hydro: 0%
Nuclear: 0%
Other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - Consumption:

 238.6 million kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Exports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Imports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - Production:

 0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Consumption:

 2,000 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Exports:

 0 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Imports:

 2,336 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Proven Reserves:

 0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural Gas - Production:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Consumption:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Exports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Imports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Proven Reserves:

 0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)

Current Account Balance:

 -$219.4 million (2010 est.)
-$154 million (2009 est.)


 $97.8 million (2010 est.)
$91 million (2009 est.)

Exports - Commodities:

 Fuel, shoes, garments, fish, hides

Exports - Partners:

 Spain 61.9%, Portugal 16.6%, Morocco 6.9% (2010)


 $796.7 million (2010 est.)
$720.6 million (2009 est.)

Imports - Commodities:

 Foodstuffs, industrial products, transport equipment, fuels

Imports - Partners:

 Portugal 41.6%, Netherlands 17.7%, Spain 6.9%, China 4.1% (2010)

Reserves of Foreign Exchange and Gold:

 $394.2 million (31 December 2010 est.)
$366 million (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - External:

 $325 million (2002)

Exchange Rates:

 Convert Cape Verde Escudo to Any Currency

Cape Verdean escudos (CVE) per US dollar -
88.58 (2010)
79.38 (2009)
73.84 (2008)
81.235 (2007)
87.946 (2006)

Back to the Top


Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 72,000 (2010)

Telephones - Cellular:

 371,900 (2010)

Telephone System:

 General assessment: effective system, extensive modernization from 1996-2000 following partial privatization in 1995

Domestic: major service provider is Cabo Verde Telecom (CVT); fiber-optic ring, completed in 2001, links all islands providing Internet access and ISDN services; cellular service introduced in 1998; broadband services launched in 2004

International: country code - 238; landing point for the Atlantis-2 fiber-optic transatlantic telephone cable that provides links to South America, Senegal, and Europe; HF radiotelephone to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2007)

Broadcast Media:

 State-run TV and radio broadcast network plus a growing number of private broadcasters; Portuguese public TV and radio services for Africa are available; transmissions of a few international broadcasters are obtainable (2007)

Radio Broadcast Stations:

 AM 0, FM 22 (plus 12 repeaters), shortwave 0 (2001)

Television Broadcast Stations:

 1 (plus 7 repeaters) (2001)

Internet Country Code:


Internet Hosts:

 26 (2010)

Internet Users:

 150,000 (2009)

Back to the Top



 10 (2010)

Airports - With Paved Runways:

 Total: 9
Over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 3
Under 914 m: 2 (2010)

Airports - With Unpaved Runways:

 Total: 1
Under 914 m: 1 (2010)


 Total: 1,350 km
Paved: 932 km
Unpaved: 418 km (2000)

Merchant Marine:

 Total: 13
By type: cargo 3, chemical tanker 3, passenger/cargo 7
Foreign-owned: 3 (Spain 1, UK 2) (2010)

Ports and Terminals:

 Porto Grande

Back to the Top


Military Branches:

 Armed Forces: Army (also called the National Guard), Cape Verde Coast Guard (Guardia Costeira de Cabo Verde, GCCV; includes naval infantry) (2011)

Military Service Age and Obligation:

 18 years of age (est.) for selective compulsory military service; 14-month conscript service obligation (2006)

Manpower Available For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 132,087
Females age 16-49: 136,956 (2010 est.)

Manpower Fit For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 106,864
Females age 16-49: 117,518 (2010 est.)

Manpower Reaching Militarily Significant Age Annually:

 Male: 6,029
Female: 6,026 (2010 est.)

Military Expenditures:

 0.5% of GDP (2009)

Back to the Top


Illicit Drugs:

 Used as a transshipment point for Latin American cocaine destined for Western Europe, particularly because of Lusophone links to Brazil, Portugal, and Guinea-Bissau; has taken steps to deter drug money laundering, including a 2002 anti-money laundering reform that criminalizes laundering the proceeds of narcotics trafficking and other crimes and the establishment in 2008 of a Financial Intelligence Unit (2008)

Back to the Top

Last Updated: December 2011

Cape Verde Main Page World Factbook Main Page


Click any image to enlarge.

National Flag

($) Cape Verde Escudo (CVE)
Convert to Any Currency


Locator Map