The economy is dominated by the service sector, which is estimated to account for just over 75 percent of GDP. Difficult cultivation conditions with recurring dry periods adversely affect agricultural production. About 25 percent of the population works in the agricultural sector, but this accounts for only 15 percent of the total food demand. The farms are generally small; more than half are less than 1 ha and only 3 percent are larger than 5 ha. Main crops are corn, beans, cassava and sweet potatoes. The most economically important industry, which is also considered to have the greatest development potential, is tuna fishing. The fish-rich waters around Cape Verde are also rich in lobster and other seafood. As a result of state investment, tourism has increased significantly in importance.
According to COUNTRYAAH, exports are dominated by re-exports of fuel to aircraft and ships that interstate on the islands as well as shoes, textiles and fish, while imports are dominated by food. The country has a large trade deficit. About 40 percent of the deficit has previously been covered by transfers from cut-off values abroad, but this proportion has decreased in recent years. Portugal is the dominant trading partner. Other major trading partners are Spain, China, the United States and the Netherlands.
Tourism and gastronomy
In recent years, abbreviated as CPV by abbreviationfinder.org, Cape Verde has been investing more and more in developing tourism, including the expansion of the infrastructure and increased hotel capacity. The investments have yielded results, and in 2000–12 the number of visitors increased from 115,000 to 482,000. Mostly tourists from the UK, Germany, Portugal and Italy are coming. Most come for the beautiful beaches. The islands of Boa Vista, Sal and Maio have long sandy beaches. The islands of São Tiago and Santo Antão have a rockier landscape, but you can find white sandy beaches on São Tiago as well. For the nature-interested, there is also the Pico do Cano volcano on the island of Fogo, which, like the city of Cidade Velha on São Tiago, is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Note: the capital city of Cape Verde is Praia with a population of 132,000 (estimate 2010). Other major cities include Mindelo with a population of 77 500 (estimate 2010).
Almost 90 percent of the food intake consists of vegetables, mainly beans, maize and root vegetables. Fish, meat and dairy products also provide important supplements. Grilled fish with garlic and tomato is a popular dish as well as spicy bean stew and meat marinated in lemon and then fried or grilled. Fried sweet potato cakes, fish cooked in coconut milk and fried crabs flavored with ginger and chili pepper are other common dishes.
At the beginning of the 2000s, CV’s political life continued to be dominated by the two main parties on the island: the Movimento Para a Democracia (MPD), in government with its leader C. Veiga since 1991, and the Partido Africano da Independência do Cabo Verde (PAICV), a former single party, in power in the 1980s. The latter recorded an increase in consensus at the beginning of the 2000s and, after having established himself in the local elections held in February 2000, he was also the winner in the legislative consultations held in January 2001, winning 40 seats against 30of the MDP. The PAICV managed to impose its own candidate, P. Pires, also in the presidential elections of the following February-March, thus managing to gain control of both the presidency and that of Parliament. The new executive, led by JM Neves, placed the modernization of the country and the relaunch of employment among its priorities, and in foreign policy promoted, starting from 2002, a closer economic and commercial collaboration with the countries of the European Union. CV also continued to maintain traditional relations with Portugal and Brazil, and with the other former Portuguese colonies in Africa, in particular with Angola.
The local elections held in March 2004 marked a change in the trend of the electorate, which returned to give its support to the MDP, securing a majority in 9 of the 17 municipal councils called to vote.