The Republic of Cabo Verde is an island country consisting of 10 islands in the central Atlantic Ocean, roughly 570 km west off the coast of Northwest Africa. All the islands are of volcanic origin and their combined area is just a tad more than 4,000 square kilometres.

Cabo Verde is a part of the Macronesia ecoregion, which is an ecoregion to which the Azores, Madeira, the Canary Islands, and the Savage Isles also belong.

Cabo Verde was uninhabited until Portuguese explorers arrived in the 1400s. Soon, settlers from Portugal created one of the first European settlements in the tropics. Due to its location, Cabo Verde became an important port from the 1500s and onward, attracting explorers, missionaries, merchants, slave traders, privateers, pirates, and more. The cross-Atlantic slave trade became very important for the archipelago, and when this trade declined in the 1800s the economy of Cabo Verde declined as well, prompting large-scale emigration from the islands.

Political stability

In 1951, Cape Verde was declared an overseas department of Portugal. Independence from Portugal was achieved in 1975.

In the fall of 1990, the one-party system that had ruled Cape Verde since independence was abolished, and the first multi-party elections were held in early 1991.

Today, Cape Verde is considered a stable democracy. It is a semi-presidential representative democratic republic where the president, who is head of state, is elected by popular vote for a 5-year term. International rankings tend to place Cape Verde among the most democratic nations in Africa. In the 2016 Democracy Index ranking, Cape Verde placed #23 of all the world’s countries.

Relationship with Europe

  • Since 2007, Cabo Verde has a special partnership status with the European Union under the Cotonou Agreement.
  • The Cape Verdean escudo is indexed to the Euro.
  • Although located off the coast of continental Africa, Cabo Verde has always had strong ties to Europe, and the other islands in Macronesia are parts of European countries. Because of this, some scholars argue that Cabo Verge may be eligible to join the European Union (EU), the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  • Cabo Verde has significant cooperation with Portugal at every level of the economy.

Cabo Verde or Cape Verde?

Cape Verde temple Cabo Verde is the Portuguese name for the country and Cape Verde is the English one.

In 2013, the government of Cabo Verde announced that they wished the name Cabo Verde (Republic of Cabo Verde) to be used for all official purposes, even in English contexts.


Total GDP (PPP): 3.649 billion USD (2016 estimate)

GDP per capita: 6,867 USD (2016 estimate)

Nominal total GDP: 1.747 billion USD (2016 estimate)

Nominal GDP per capita: 3,287 USD (2016 estimate)

HDI: 0.654 for the year 2017. This is medium.

Currency: Cape Verdean escudo (CVE)


With a notable scarcity of natural resources, Cabo Verde’s economy is mostly service-oriented, with over 70% of GDP coming from commerce, transport and public services. The Cape Verdean diaspora around the world is an important source of income, contributing an estimated 20% of GDP to the domestic economy through remittances. Light manufacturing, agriculture and fishing constitute most the remainder of GDP. Lately, there has been an increased focus on tourism and foreign investment.

In the period 2000-2009, real GDP increased on average by over seven percent a year. This was well above the average for the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa.

The country’s economic growth and general living standard improvements has garnered international recognition. Since 2007, it is classified by the United Nations as a developing nation and Middle Income Country (MIC) instead of being a Least Developed Country (LDC).

Since the first multi-party election, the governments of Cabo Verde has pursued market-oriented economic policies and been eager to attract foreign investments. Between 1994 and 2000, over $400 Gmillion in foreign investments were made or planned. Over half of the amount was for investments in tourism.

Agriculture and fishing

Even though more than one-third of Cabo Verde’s population live in rural areas, less than ten percent of the GDP come from agriculture and fishing. With the country being a semi-desert, only five of the ten islands support any significant agricultural production, and this production is not large enough to sustain the Cabo Verde population. Over 90% of all food consumed in the country is imported.

Fish and shellfish are plentiful around the islands, but is no large-scale export is taking place. Cold storage, fish processing and freezing facilities are found in Mindelo, Praia, and on Sal.

A number of wineries exist in Cabo Verde, but the export is very small. Since 2010, wine tours can be arranged through the official Cabo Verde tourism office.


The main mineral resources are salt, pozzolana and limestone. Pozzolana is a volcanic rock utilized for cement production.

Tourism infrastructure

Since the year 2000, major investments in infrastructure has boosted the tourism sector. In 2007, a new international airport was opened in Boa Vista, followed by another one on the island São Vicente in 2009. Significant improvements has also been made to the international airports in Sal and Praia. All the inhabited islands in Cabo Verde have airports, but only some of them are international airports.

The harbour Porto Grande in Mindelo on São Vicente was modernized in 2014. It now has four long quays, four shorter quays, a special quay for fishing boats with fish processing installations, three passenger terminals, two roll-on/roll-off ramps, and one container terminal.

There is also a major port in the capital city Praia on the island Santiago. In addition to São Vicente and Santiago, all the other islands have port facilities too, albeit smaller.

Science and technology

The Praia Technology Park, financed by the African Development Bank, was approved in 2013. It is a part of the Cabo Verde government’s plan to support the growth of industry niches such as software development, computer maintenance and back office operations.

Electricity supply

Roughly 30% of the electricity used in Cabo Verde comes from wind turbines.


Cabo Verde has been a part of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 2007.

Minimum wage

In January 2018, the minimum monthly wage was raised from 11,000 CVE to 13,000 CVE.

13,000 CVE equals €130.


  • 7.88 points on the Democracy Index in 2018, placing it in the category “Flawed Democracy”. It was #2 of the African countries and #26 (top 13%) world-wide.
  • #10 (top 19%) of all African countries on the Human Development Index in 2017. #125 world-wide.
  • #3 of all African countries on the Press Freedom Index in 2017. #27 (top 14%) world-wide.
  • Cabo Verde achieved 1/1 on the Freedom in the World index in 2016, which was the highest possible rating. Only 49 countries in the whole world was ranked 1/1 and Cabo Verde was the only country in Africa to achieve this ranking.
  • The score 66.5 on the 2016 Index of Economic Freedom placed Cabo Verde on #3 on the African list and on #57 (top 28%) on the world list.
  • Cabo Verde got a 3.8 score at the Networked Readiness Index (Technology Readiness) in 2015. That’s #87 on the world list and #7 on the African list. Cabo Verde placed among the top 13% of all African countries, and top 43% world-wide.

Short facts about Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)

Size: 4,033 km2

Population size: Approximately 540,000 (2016 estimate)

Demonym: Cape Verdean or Cabo Verdean

Capital: Praia (Coordinates: 14°55′N 23°31′W)

Largest city: Praia

Government: Unitary semi-presidential republic

Legislature: National Assembly

Independence: 1975 (from Portugal)

Multi-party system since: 1990

Official language: Portuguese

Recognised national language: Cape Verdean Creole

Currency: Cape Verdean escudo (CVE)

Time zone: UTC-1 (CVT), summer DST is not observed

Calling code: +238

Internet TLD: cv

ISO 3166 code: CV

Driving side: right

This article was last updated on: February 13, 2019