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Cape Verde

Cape Verde, a group of ten islands and five islets in the North Atlantic Ocean, is located in Western Africa, to the west of Senegal. The Portuguese discovered and colonized these islands in the 15th Century and not long after, these islands became a trading centre for African slaves. The Portuguese ruled these islands until 1975, when they granted the Cape Verdeans their independence. Cape Verde continues to be one of Africa’s most stable democratic countries. However, it also remains poor in natural resources and rather prone to drought. With very little arable land, the Cape Verde islands are dependent on food imports. The frequent droughts of the 20th century caused great emigration of Cape Verdeans.

Consequently, Cape Verde’s expatriate population is higher than its domestic population. These islands are known for their white sand beaches, a vibrant culture and the excellent conditions for water sports. The capital city, Praia, is located on the largest island of Cape Verde, São Tiago. The Portuguese first settled on this island, in Cidade Velha (the old city of Praia), where ruins, old buildings and an old Portuguese fort are still visible. Because of its history, most Cape Verdeans have both African and Portuguese antecedents. Cape Verde is known for its traditional music, with internationally-known musicians such as Cesaria Evora, and music festivals such as the Baia das Gatas. Just as the people are of hybrid origin, the music is also a mixture of African and Portuguese influences; a hip-swinging fusion of Samba and Salsa mixed with African rhythms.
CATEGORIES: Demographics - Quick Facts - Economy - Communications - Health Issues
Demographics
Country Flag: Cape Verde's Flag

Three horizontal bands of light blue (top, double width), white (with a horizontal red stripe in the middle third), and light blue; a circle of 10 yellow five-pointed stars.

Nationality: Cape Verdean

Capital: Praia

Population: 420,979 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

  • 0-14 years: 37.9%
  • 15-64 years: 55.3%
  • 65 years and over: 6.7% (2006 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.64% (2006 est.)

Literacy rate:

  • ages 15 and above can read and write.
  • 76.6% of the population is literate (male: 85.8%, females: 69.2%) (2003 est.)

Major religions: Roman Catholic (infused with indigenous beliefs); Protestant (mostly Church of the Nazarene)

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

Quick Facts
Area:
  • total: 4,033 sq km
  • land: 4,033 sq km
  • water: 0 sq km

Area comparative to Canadian province: slightly smaller than Prince Edward Island

Natural resources: salt, basalt rock, limestone, kaolin, fish, clay, gypsum

Environmental Issues: deforestation as a result of high demand for wood used as fuel; desertification; soil erosion; environmental damage is threatening species of birds and reptiles; illegal beach sand extraction; overfishing.

Economy

Cape Verde’s economy is service-oriented, with commerce, tourism, public services and transport accounting for 66% of the GDP. Nearly 70% of the population lives in rural areas and the country suffers from serious water shortages as a result of long-term drought. Approximately 82% of food must be imported. There is great fishing potential, especially lobster and tuna; however, this is not fully exploited yet. The country’s economic reforms are designed to develop the private sector and attract foreign investment as an attempt to expand the economy.

Major industries:

  • food and beverages
  • fish processing
  • shoes and garments
  • salt mining
  • ship repair

Agricultural products:

  • bananas
  • corn
  • beans
  • sweet potatoes
  • sugarcane
  • coffee
  • peanuts
  • fish

Oil production: 0 bbl/day (2003)

Railways: N/A

Road map: 1,350 km (paved: 932 km, unpaved: 418 km)

Currency: Cape Verdean escudo

Communications

Telephone lines in use: 73,400 (2005)

Cellular lines in use: 65,800 (2004)

Television Stations: 1 (and 7 repeaters) (2002)

Radio Stations: AM 0, FM 22 (and 12 low power repeaters), shortwave 0 (2002)

Internet users: 25,000 (2005)

Health Issues

HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate: 0.035% (2001 est.)

People living with HIV/AIDS: 775 (2001)

More Information

For more informaiton, please visit:
http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/cv.html#top