The Republic of Cape Verde is located in the mid-Atlantic Ocean, nearly 300 miles off of the west coast of Africa. The nation, which is comprised of ten islands and five islets, is home to an estimated 523,568 inhabitants. Its capital city Praia holds roughly one fourth of its population. The country consists of three major ethnic groups: Creole (71%), African (28%), and European (1%). The national language of Cape Verde is Portuguese; however Cape Verdean Creole or Crioulo is commonly spoken and varies from island to island. The predominant religion of Cape Verde is Christianity, which accounts for 95% of the population. The Cape Verdean economy is heavily service oriented with tourism, commerce, public services, and transport accounting for three-fourths of GDP. The GDP per capita of Cape Verde stands at $4000, with 30% of its population living under the poverty line. As a result of its developmental success, in 2007, Cape Verde graduated from the United Nations list of least developed countries to a middle income nation. In addition to high levels of GDP, Cape Verde reports low levels of adults with HIV/AIDS (.04%), high literacy rates for both men and women (76.6%), and higher levels of public expenditures spent on education (5.9% of GDP) than the United States.
Prior to the settlement colonies of the Portuguese in 1462, Cape Verde was an uninhabited set of islands. Throughout the 16th century, the islands economically prospered due to the transatlantic slave trade. In 1951, in response to the growing rise of nationalism and fear of decolonization, the Portuguese converted the nation from a colony into an overseas province. Despite these political attempts, the citizens continued to demand for independence and formed a dual political party with Portuguese Guinea known as the African Party for Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC).
In 1975, Cape Verde officially gained its independence from Portugal. Unfortunately, with diverging political agendas Cape Verde and Guinea severed all hopes of unification with one another. As a result, Cape Verde formed its own political party known as the African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV). The PAICV governed the nation under an authoritarian regime for nearly two decades. Due to internal pressures by citizens for basic civil liberties, and external pressures as a result of the collapse of the Cold War, Cape Verde as well as numerous African countries began to make radical political changes towards democratization. With the formation of the Movement for Democracy Party (MPD), the nation was able to abolish the one party state, and hold its first multi-party election in 1991.
Presently, Cape Verde has been able to maintain a stable representative parliamentary system. As a result of the 2011 elections, the current head of state is Jorge Carlos Fonseca. Elections are held on a national level every five years for the head of state and legislative body. The Prime Minister is the head of government, whom is nominated by the National Assembly, and appointed by the President. Cape Verde’s current Prime Minister is José Maria Neves.
Currently, Cape Verde is facing numerous environmental obstacles. Due to irregular rainfall, the islands suffer significant droughts which result in food shortages. As a consequence there has been a heavy emigration movement, which has led its expatriate population to be greater than its domestic one. In addition, the Cape Verdean wildlife has been severely threatened due to deforestation, overfishing, and illegal beach sand extraction. Fortunately the Cape Verdean government has begun to take several measures to reduce these issues with the signing of numerous international environmental agreements.