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The Republic of Cape Verde, also known as Cabo Verde or Cape Verde, is located on a small set of islands in the Atlantic Ocean, off the western coast of Africa. The islands were first discovered, and then settled, by the Portuguese in the fifteenth century. Sailors used the islands as a supply point, and a hub of commerce. The islands were crucial to the trans-Atlantic slave trade and still reflect their roots in both African and Portuguese cultures.
The islands comprise only 2,506 square miles (4,033 square kilometers) and suffer from severe droughts. Cape Verde has minimal resources, and is faced with the task of trying to protect a number of endangered species found nowhere else in the world. Agriculture is restricted to only four of Cape Verde’s ten main islands. Cape Verde is working to be included in the European Union and cooperates with Portugal to improve its economic situation. The economy is improving in Cape Verde; in 2007, the United Nations removed the country from its list of Least Developed Countries.
The government for Cape Verde hopes to better exploit the nation’s potential for fishing, but currently Cape Verde must import over 80 percent of its food, and is forced to run an extremely high trade deficit. The government has also pinned its hopes on tourism and developing the private sector.
More Cape Verdeans live outside of the country than within it. The current population of Cape Verde is approximately 400,000 and continues to drop. There are an estimated 500,000 immigrants from Cape Verde in the United States alone, and Portugal and Angola also have significant numbers of Cape Verdeans. The high immigration rates are generally attributed to hardships and lack of economic opportunity.
Cape Verde is known as one of Africa’s most stable governments. The country was declared independent from Portugal in 1975 and has held regularly scheduled elections since that point. The government is loosely based on Portugal’s system.