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Discovery and Portuguese property

The Cape Verde Islands were discovered in the 15th century by the Portuguese, who made them a base for their African trade, including slaves (after the abolition of the slave trade, the islands became impoverished). Portuguese historians attribute the discovery of the Cape Verde Islands to Diogo Gomez, who was in the service of Prince Henry the Navigator. In 1462, the first Portuguese settled on Sao Tiago, where they founded Ribeira Grande. In 1495, the archipelago became an official Portuguese crown domain. In 1587, it became a Portuguese colony. Between 1836 and 1879, the archipelago, together with Portuguese Guinea, was administered by a governor-general. The abolition of slavery (in 1876) resulted in a deterioration of the Cape Verdean economy. The area was regularly hit by severe famines. Emigration was the only way for many islanders to escape the poor living conditions. Partly as a reaction to the increasing oppression by the Portuguese rulers (especially after 1920), a nationalist movement emerged.

On the road to independence

In 1951, Cape Verde was granted the status of overseas province. The Cape Verdean struggle against the colonial ruler was closely linked to that of Guinea-Bissau. The Portuguese Carnation Revolution, which initiated the decolonisation process in 1974, paved the way for elections in the Cape Verde Islands. In June 1975, the PAIGC won 92% of the vote and on 5 July 1975 the Cape Verde Islands became fully independent. First president of the new state was the socialist Aristides Pereira (re-elected in 1981 and 1986). In 1981, all plans for union with Guinea-Bissau were revoked. In late 1990, Cape Verde became the first of the five former Portuguese colonies in Africa to introduce a multi-party system; in early 1991, the country elected a new president, the democrat Antonio M. Monteiro. Parliamentary elections in December 1995 gave a large majority to the Movimento para Democracía, which favoured economic liberalisation. In the presidential elections of February 1996, Monteiro was re-elected for a new five-year term.

21th century

The opposition party Paicv won the parliamentary elections of 14 January 2001. Prime Minister Gualbert do Rosário conceded the loss to the decade-old ruling Movement for Democracy (MPD). Parliamentary and presidential elections were held on 22 January and 12 February 2006 respectively. Both elections were won by the PAICV. No major changes are therefore to be expected in government policy, nor in the existing administrations. In Cape Verde, the diaspora is also allowed to vote and Pires (PAICV) was the clear favourite with 65% of the votes. Once again, the elections went very well, both during the campaign period and on election day itself. Compared to previous elections, the tone of the debates was brighter, but there was no violence, intimidation, foul play or fraud. The deteriorating security situation was a major election theme, as were the overall development strategy, the economic situation and some specific environmental problems.

A few days after the election, the MPD publicly criticised the result and made (as yet) unsubstantiated allegations of fraud. It can be expected that the provisional election results will be identical to the final results. During the election campaign, the PAICV emphasised its successes, such as the stable macro-economic situation, the completion of some major infrastructural works and the good relationship with the international donor community. Especially in the macroeconomic field, the current government has built up an impressive track record. In December 2007 Cape Verde joined the World Trade Organisation. Hillary Clinton visited Cape Verde in August 2009.

Since 9 September 2011, Jorge Carlos Fonseca has been President of Cape Verde. In March 2016, the MPD (Movement for Democracy) led by Ulisses Correia e Silva won the parliamentary elections.

In November 2021, the centre-left opposition candidate Jose Maria Neves was elected president.


Grote Lekturama wereldatlas

Irwin, A. / Cape Verde Islands
The Globe Pequot Press

Osang, R. / Kapverdische Inseln

Schleich, H.H. / Cabo Verde

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated March 2024
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