Africa

Cabo Verde country profile

  • 10 December 2015
  • From the section Africa
Map of Cape Verde

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

Also known as Cape Verde, 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 Cabo 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

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption President Jorge Carlos Fonseca (left) and Prime Minister Jose Maria Neves need to govern together though they are from different parties

President: Jorge Carlos Fonseca

Jorge Carlos Fonseca won presidential elections with a decisive second-round victory in August 2011.

Being from the opposition Movement for Democracy (MFD) he needs to govern with a prime minister from the PAICV ruling party.

Mr Fonseca replaced Pedro Pires, who served a maximum two terms.

Cabo Verde is a republic with a president, who is the head of state, and a prime minister who heads the government. The prime minister is appointed by parliament.

Prime minister: Jose Maria Neves

Jose Maria Neves became prime minister in 2001 and gained further five-year terms in 2006 and 2011.

In the 2011 elections, his African Party for the Independence of Cabo Verde (PAICV) based its campaign on strong economic growth - averaging 6% after a golden period which included the construction of three international airports, ports, and hundreds of kilometres of roads throughout the islands.

The PAICV and the MPD have dominated politics since independence from Portugal in 1975. Both have run the country since multi-party democracy was introduced in 1991.

MEDIA

Image copyright Bojan Kveder

Cabo 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 copyright 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. Cabo 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 - Cabo Verde becomes a Portuguese crown colony.

1960 - Many Cabo 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 - Cabo Verde becomes independent.

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

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

Image copyright 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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