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The uninhabited islands were discovered and colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th century; Cape Verde subsequently became a trading centre 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.
15-64 years: 61.9% (male 154,697/female 164,917)
65 years and over: 5.5% (male 10,648/female 17,575) (2011 est.)
conventional short form: Cape Verde
local long form: Republica de Cabo Verde
local short form: Cabo Verde
geographic coordinates: 14 55 N, 23 31 W
time difference: UTC-1 (4 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
over 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 3
914 to 1,523 m: 3
under 914 m: 2 (2012)
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 about three-fourths of GDP. Although nearly 70% of the population lives in rural areas, the share of food production in GDP is low. About 82% of food must be imported.
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