Cabo Verde People - 2021


GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES  Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese


589,451 (July 2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 172


noun: Cabo Verdean(s)

adjective: Cabo Verdean

Ethnic groups

Creole (Mulatto) 71%, African 28%, European 1%


Portuguese (official), Krioulo (a Portuguese-based Creole language with two main dialects spoken in Cabo Verde and in the Cabo Verdean diaspora worldwide)


Roman Catholic 77.3%, Protestant 4.6% (includes Church of the Nazarene 1.7%, Adventist 1.5%, Assembly of God 0.9%, Universal Kingdom of God 0.4%, and God and Love 0.1%), other Christian 3.4% (includes Christian Rationalism 1.9%, Jehovah's Witness 1%, and New Apostolic 0.5%), Muslim 1.8%, other 1.3%, none 10.8%, unspecified 0.7% (2010 est.)

Demographic profile

Cabo Verde’s population descends from its first permanent inhabitants in the late 15th-century – a preponderance of West African slaves, a small share of Portuguese colonists, and even fewer Italians, Spaniards, and Portuguese Jews. Over the centuries, the country’s overall population size has fluctuated significantly, as recurring periods of famine and epidemics have caused high death tolls and emigration.

Labor migration historically reduced Cabo Verde’s population growth and still provides a key source of income through remittances. Expatriates probably outnumber Cabo Verde’s resident population, with most families having a member abroad. Cabo Verdeans have settled in the US, Europe, Africa, and South America. The largest diaspora community in New Bedford, Massachusetts, dating to the early 1800s, is a byproduct of the transatlantic whaling industry. Cabo Verdean men fleeing poverty at home joined the crews of US whaling ships that stopped in the islands. Many settled in New Bedford and stayed in the whaling or shipping trade, worked in the textile or cranberry industries, or operated their own transatlantic packet ships that transported compatriots to the US. Increased Cabo Verdean emigration to the US coincided with the gradual and eventually complete abolition of slavery in the archipelago in 1878.

During the same period, Portuguese authorities coerced Cabo Verdeans to go to Sao Tome and Principe and other Portuguese colonies in Africa to work as indentured laborers on plantations. In the 1920s, when the US implemented immigration quotas, Cabo Verdean emigration shifted toward Portugal, West Africa (Senegal), and South America (Argentina). Growing numbers of Cabo Verdean labor migrants headed to Western Europe in the 1960s and 1970s. They filled unskilled jobs in Portugal, as many Portuguese sought out work opportunities in the more prosperous economies of northwest Europe. Cabo Verdeans eventually expanded their emigration to the Netherlands, where they worked in the shipping industry. Migration to the US resumed under relaxed migration laws. Cabo Verdean women also began migrating to southern Europe to become domestic workers, a trend that continues today and has shifted the gender balance of Cabo Verdean emigration.

Emigration has declined in more recent decades due to the adoption of more restrictive migration policies in destination countries. Reduced emigration along with a large youth population, decreased mortality rates, and increased life expectancies, has boosted population growth, putting further pressure on domestic employment and resources. In addition, Cabo Verde has attracted increasing numbers of migrants in recent decades, consisting primarily of people from West Africa, Portuguese-speaking African countries, Portugal, and China. Since the 1990s, some West African migrants have used Cabo Verde as a stepping stone for illegal migration to Europe.

Age structure

0-14 years: 27.95% (male 82,010/female 81,012)

15-24 years: 18.69% (male 54,521/female 54,504)

25-54 years: 40.76% (male 115,811/female 121,923)

55-64 years: 7.12% (male 18,939/female 22,597)

65 years and over: 5.48% (male 12,037/female 19,901) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 49

youth dependency ratio: 41.8

elderly dependency ratio: 7.1

potential support ratio: 14 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 26.8 years

male: 25.9 years

female: 27.6 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 151

Population growth rate

1.24% (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 78

Birth rate

18.78 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 78

Death rate

5.84 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 167

Net migration rate

-0.58 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 125

Population distribution

among the nine inhabited islands, population distribution is variable; islands in the east are very dry and are only sparsely settled to exploit their extensive salt deposits; the more southerly islands receive more precipitation and support larger populations, but agriculture and livestock grazing have damaged the soil fertility and vegetation; approximately half of the population lives on Sao Tiago Island, which is the location of the capital of Praia; Mindelo, on the northern island of Sao Vicente, also has a large urban population as shown in this population distribution map


urban population: 67.1% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 1.83% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

168,000 PRAIA (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.95 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.84 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.6 male(s)/female

total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Maternal mortality rate

58 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 91

Infant mortality rate

total: 24.1 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 28.32 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 19.76 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 72

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 73.47 years

male: 71.12 years

female: 75.89 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 148

Total fertility rate

2.14 children born/woman (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 93

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 89.1% of population

total: 96.2% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 10.9% of population

total: 3.8% of population (2017 est.)

Current Health Expenditure

5.4% (2018)

Physicians density

0.78 physicians/1,000 population (2015)

Hospital bed density

2.1 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 87.8% of population

rural: 64.9% of population

total: 79.8% of population

unimproved: urban: 12.2% of population

rural: 35.1% of population

total: 20.2% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.5% (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 63

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS

2,400 (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 136

HIV/AIDS - deaths

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

11.8% (2016)

country comparison to the world: 134

Education expenditures

5.2% of GDP (2017)

country comparison to the world: 49


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 86.8%

male: 91.7%

female: 82% (2015)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 13 years

male: 12 years

female: 13 years (2018)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 50.4%

male: 41.4%

female: 65.3% (2019)

country comparison to the world: 4

Contraceptive prevalence rate

55.8% (2018)

NOTE: The information regarding Cabo Verde on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Cabo Verde 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Cabo Verde 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.