Cruising to Cape Verde


The uninhabited islands were discovered and colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th century; Cape Verde subsequently became a trading center for African slaves and later an important coaling and resupply stop for whaling and transatlantic shipping. Following independence in 1975, and a tentative interest in unification with Guinea-Bissau, a one-party system was established and maintained until multi-party elections were held in 1990.

Cape Verde continues to exhibit one of Africa's most stable democratic governments. Repeated droughts during the second half of the 20th century caused significant hardship and prompted heavy emigration. As a result, Cape Verde's expatriate population is greater than its domestic one. Most Cape Verdeans have both African and Portuguese antecedents.


Location: Western Africa, group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Senegal
Geographic coordinates: 16 00 N, 24 00 W
Map references: Political Map of the World
Area: total: 4,033 sq km
Land: 4,033 sq km


965 km

Maritime claims

Measured from claimed archipelagic baselines
Territorial sea: 12 nm
Contiguous zone: 24 nm
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


Temperate; warm, dry summer; precipitation meager and very erratic


Steep, rugged, rocky, volcanic

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Mt. Fogo 2,829 m (a volcano on Fogo Island)


This island economy suffers from a poor natural resource base, including serious water shortages exacerbated by cycles of long-term drought. The economy is service-oriented, with commerce, transport, tourism, and public services accounting for 66% of GDP. Although nearly 70% of the population lives in rural areas, the share of agriculture in GDP in 2004 was only 12%, of which fishing accounted for 1.5%. About 82% of food must be imported.

The fishing potential, mostly lobster and tuna, is not fully exploited. Cape Verde annually runs a high trade deficit, financed by foreign aid and remittances from emigrants; remittances supplement GDP by more than 20%. Economic reforms are aimed at developing the private sector and attracting foreign investment to diversify the economy. Future prospects depend heavily on the maintenance of aid flows, the encouragement of tourism, remittances, and the momentum of the government's development program.


Airports: 7
note: 3 airports are reported to be nonoperational (2005)
Roadways: total: 1,350 km

Merchant marine

Total: 6 ships (1000 GRT or over) 10,719 GRT/7,482 DWT
By type: cargo 2, chemical tanker 1, passenger/cargo 3
Foreign-owned: 2 (Spain 1, UK 1) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals

Mindelo, Praia, Tarrafal

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Arctic Ocean - Bermuda - Spain and Canary Islands - Cape Verde Islands - Faeroes Islands - France - Greenland - Iceland - Ireland - Portugal, the Azores and Madeira - United Kingdom

Further Reading

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