The Republic of Cape Verde, Africa´s smallest republic, is
located in the Atlantic Ocean, about 370 miles (595 km.) west of
Dakar, Senegal, off the coast of Africa. The 14-island republic has
an area of 1,557 sq. mi. (4,033 sq. km.) and a population of 435,983.
Capital: Praia. The refueling of ships and aircraft is the chief economic
function of the country. Fishing is important and agriculture
is widely practiced, but the Cape Verdes are not self-sufficient in
food. Fish products, salt, bananas, and shellfish are exported.
The date of discovery of the islands is uncertain. Possibly
they were visited by Venetian captain Alvise Cadamosto in 1456.
Portuguese navigator Diogo Gomes claimed them for Portugal in
May of 1460. Settlement began two years later. The early importance
and wealth of the islands, which caused them to be attacked
by Sir Francis Drake and the Dutch, resulted from the monopoly
of the Guinea slave trade granted the inhabitants in 1466. Poverty
and famine occasioned by frequent periods of severe drought
have marked the history of the country since abolition of the slave
trade in 1876.
After 500 years of Portuguese rule, the Cape Verdes became
independent on July 5, 1975. At the first general election, all seats
of the new national assembly were won by the Party for the Independence
of Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde (PAIGC). The
PAIGC linked the two former colonies into one state. Antonio Mascarenhas
Monteiro won the first free presidential election in 1991.
Portuguese, until 1975
100 Centavos = 1 Escudo