Current President: Jorge Carlos de Almeida Fonseca
Cape Verde, officially the Republic of Cabo Verde, is an archipelago and island country in the central Atlantic Ocean, consisting of ten volcanic islands with a combined land area of about 4,033 square kilometres (1,557 sq mi). These islands lie between 600 to 850 kilometres (320 to 460 nautical miles) west of Cap-Vert situated at the westernmost point of continental Africa. The Cape Verde islands form part of the Macaronesia ecoregion, along with the Azores, the Canary Islands, Madeira, and the Savage Isles.
The Cape Verde archipelago was uninhabited until the 15th century, when Portuguese explorers discovered and colonized the islands, thus establishing the first European settlement in the tropics. Because the Cape Verde islands were ideally located to play a role in the Atlantic slave-trade, Cape Verde became economically prosperous during the 16th and 17th centuries, attracting merchants, privateers, and pirates. It declined economically in the 19th century due to the suppression of the Atlantic slave-trade, and many of its inhabitants emigrated during that period. However, Cape Verde gradually recovered economically by becoming an important commercial center and useful stopover point along major shipping routes. In 1951, Cape Verde was incorporated as an overseas department of Portugal, but its inhabitants continued to campaign for independence, which they achieved in 1975.
Since the early 1990s, Cape Verde has been a stable representative democracy, and has remained one of the most developed and democratic countries in Africa. Lacking natural resources, its developing economy is mostly service-oriented, with a growing focus on tourism and foreign investment. Its population of around 550,000 (as of mid 2019) is mostly of mixed African and European heritage, and predominantly Roman Catholic, reflecting the legacy of Portuguese rule. A sizable Cape Verdean diaspora community exists across the world, especially in the United States and Portugal, and considerably outnumbering inhabitants on the islands. Cape Verde is a member state of the African Union.