The strategic position of Cape Verde at the crossroads of mid-Atlantic air and sea routes has been improved by major upgrades at Mindelo’s harbour (Porto Grande) and the international airports of Sal and Praia. In December 2007, a new international airport opened in Boa Vista, and in late 2009, the newest international airport in Cape Verde (Cesária Évora Airport) opened on the island of So Vicente. Mindelo’s ship repair facility opened in 1983.
Mindelo and Praia are the main ports, although all other islands have minor port facilities. Airports have been constructed on all of the populated islands, in addition to the international airport on Sal. Except for the airports on Brava and Santo Anto, all provide regular air service. The archipelago contains 3,050 kilometres (1,895 mi) of roads, 1,010 km (628 km) of which are paved, the majority of which are cobblestone.
The country’s economic prospects are largely dependent on the continuation of assistance flows, the promotion of tourism and remittances, the outsourcing of labor to neighboring African nations, and the pace of the government’s development agenda.
The climate of Cape Verde is moderate, with a warm, dry summer. Precipitation is sparse and falls from June to February, peaking in September.
Sal, Boavista, and Maio are three of the islands that get virtually little rain. The rainiest islands are Santiago, Fogo, and Santo Antao.
The Cape Verde archipelago is situated in the Atlantic Ocean, some 570 kilometers (350 miles) off the African continent’s western coast, near Senegal, The Gambia, and Mauritania, and is part of the Macaronesia ecoregion. It is located between latitudes 14° and 18° North and longitudes 22° and 26° West.
The nation is a horseshoe-shaped collection of ten islands (nine of which are inhabited) and eight islets covering 4033 km2.
The islands are split into two categories based on their location:
- The Barlavento Islands (windward islands): Santo Antão, São Vicente, Santa Luzia, São Nicolau, Sal, Boa Vista; and
- The Sotavento Islands (leeward): Maio, Santiago, Fogo, Brava.
Santiago is the biggest island in terms of both area and population, and it is home to the nation’s capital, Praia, the archipelago’s main agglomeration.
Three of them (Sal, Boa Vista, and Maio) are relatively flat, sandy, and dry, whereas the others are usually rockier and have more flora.
In 2013, Cape Verde had a population of 512,096 according to the official census. The largest island, Santiago, is home to the majority of Cape Verdeans (236,000).
When the Portuguese found the Cape Verde archipelago in 1456, it was deserted. Slaves from Africa were sent to the islands to labor on Portuguese plantations. Mulattos (mestiços in Portuguese) are people of mixed African and European ancestry; creole is another name for people of mixed black and white ancestry. Many of these Cape Verdeans have moved to other countries, namely the United States and Europe.
The Portuguese Empire gave territory to Spanish and Italian sailors, who were followed by Portuguese immigrants, exiles, Portuguese Muslims, and Portuguese Jews, both of which were victims of the Inquisition. Many immigrants from all over the globe have made Cape Verde their permanent home. These individuals arrived from the Netherlands, France, Britain, Arab nations (Lebanon and Morocco), China (particularly Macau), India, Indonesia, South America, North America, and Brazil (including people of Portuguese and African ancestry) and were incorporated into the mestiço community.
The majority of Cape Verde’s population in the twenty-first century is creole; the capital city Praia accounting for one-quarter of the country’s population. According to the 2013 Cape Verdean census, over 65 percent of the archipelago’s population resides in urban areas, and the literacy rate is approximately 87 percent (91 percent among males aged 15 and above and 83 percent among women aged 15 and above).
According to a DNA research, the heritage of the Cape Verdean people is mainly European in the male line and West African in the female line; when both lines are included, the proportion is 56 percent African and 44 percent European. Individuals have a high degree of genetic and ethnic mixing as a consequence of centuries of migration.
Approximately 95 percent of the population is Christian. In 2007, more than 85% of the population was officially Roman Catholic. Catholicism is mixed with African influences for a small percentage of the people.
The Church of the Nazarene is the biggest Protestant denomination; other organizations include the Seventh-day Adventist Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Assemblies of God, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, and various Pentecostal and evangelical denominations. There is a tiny Muslim community in the area. On many islands, there were Jewish communities. The population of atheists is believed to be fewer than 1% of the total.
Despite a dearth of natural resources, Cape Verde’s significant economic growth and improvement in living circumstances has gained worldwide attention, with other nations and international organizations often giving development assistance. Since 2007, it has been categorized as a developing nation rather than a least developed country by the United Nations.
Natural resources are scarce in Cape Verde. Only five of the ten major islands (Santiago, Santo Anto, So Nicolau, Fogo, and Brava) are usually capable of supporting substantial agricultural output, and more than 90 percent of the food eaten in Cape Verde is imported. Salt, pozzolana (a volcanic rock used in cement manufacturing), and limestone are examples of mineral resources. Its limited number of wineries producing Portuguese-style wines have historically concentrated on the local market, but have lately gained worldwide recognition. Wine tours of Cape Verde’s different microclimates started in April 2010 and may be booked via the tourist office.
Cape Verde’s economy is service-oriented, with trade, transportation, and public services accounting for more than 70% of GDP. Despite the fact that almost 35% of the population lives in rural regions, agriculture and fisheries account for just around 9% of GDP. The majority of the rest is accounted for by light manufacturing. Fish and shellfish are abundant, yet only a tiny amount is exported. In Mindelo, Praia, and Sal, Cape Verde contains cold storage and freezing facilities, as well as seafood processing factories. Through remittances, expatriate Cape Verdeans contribute an estimated 20% of GDP to the local economy. Despite having few natural resources and being semi-desert, the country has the best living standards in the area, attracting thousands of immigrants of all countries.
Since 1991, the government has promoted market-oriented economic policies, including as an open invitation to international investors and a comprehensive privatization initiative. It set the promotion of a market economy and the private sector as key development objectives, as well as the growth of tourism, light industrial sectors, and fisheries, as well as the construction of transportation, communications, and energy infrastructure. From 1994 to 2000, about $407 million in foreign investments were made or planned, with tourism accounting for 58%, industry accounting for 17%, infrastructure accounting for 4%, and fisheries and services accounting for 21%.
A wind farm was constructed on four islands in 2011, supplying about 30% of the country’s energy. It is one of the leading nations in terms of renewable energy.
Between 2000 and 2009, real GDP grew by more than 7% per year on average, considerably above the Sub-Saharan average and faster than other small island economies in the area. Strong economic performance has been supported by one of the world’s fastest growing tourist sectors, as well as significant capital inflows that have enabled Cape Verde to build up national currency reserves equivalent to 3.5 months of imports. Unemployment has been quickly declining, and the nation is on pace to meet the majority of the UN Millennium Development Goals, including reducing its poverty level from 1990.
Cape Verde joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2007, and the nation was promoted from Least Developed Country (LDC) to Middle Income Country (MIC) status in 2008.
Cape Verde has substantial economic cooperation with Portugal at all levels, which has led to the country’s currency being linked to the Portuguese escudo initially, and then, in 1999, to the euro. Cape Verde became the 153rd member of the World Trade Organization on June 23, 2008.
For the first time in Cape Verdean history, the minimum wage was established at 11,000.00 Cape Verde escudos (CVE) per month (equal to US$110 or 101 Euros) in August 2013. On January 1, 2014, the national minimum wage went into effect.