Cape Verde Islands


In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Cape Verde Islands is Number 117 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The Cape Verde Islands are an archipelago situated about 570 kilometers west of the African mainland. They were discovered and colonized by the Portuguese in the 15th century and remained under Portuguese rule until 1975, when the independent Republic of Cape Verde was established. The book covers physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. The section on geography provides brief sketches of the 14 islands and islets that make up the archipelago, the largest of which is San Thiago (present-day Sao Tiago or Santiago). The population, consisting mainly of the descendants of former slaves imported from the African mainland and a small number of Portuguese, is given as 149,793 (1916). The economic section notes the importance of the ports of Mindello on San Vicente Island (present-day Sao Vicente) and Praia on Santiago as coaling stations for vessels on the main shipping routes between Europe and Brazil and between North America and West Africa. In 1913, a total of 3,402 ships entered the ports of the archipelago, of which 1,414 were steamships and 1,988 sailing vessels. San Vicente was also the nexus of undersea cables connecting Europe with the Azores, South Africa, and South America. The major agricultural exports were coffee and the oily seeds of the purgueira plant, used as a lubricant and in making soap.

Last updated: July 23, 2015