Flag description: Three horizontal bands of light blue (top, double width), white (with a horizontal red stripe in the middle third), and light blue; a circle of 10 yellow five-pointed stars is centred on the hoist end of the red stripe and extends into the upper and lower blue bands

Location: Western Africa, group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Senegal / West Africa.

Geographic coordinates: 16 00 N, 24 00 W

Climate: temperate; warm, dry summer; precipitation meagre and very erratic

Independence: 5 July 1975 (from Portugal)

Nationality: Cape Verdean(s)

Capital City: Praia

Population: 401,343

Head of State: Monteiro Mascarenhas from 1991

Area: 4,033 sq km

Type of Government: emergent democracy

Currency: Cape Verde escudo

Major peoples: about 60% of mixed descent (Portuguese and African), known as mestiços or creoles; the remainder is mainly African. The European population is very small

Religion: Roman Catholic 93%, Protestant (Nazarene Church)

Official Language: Portuguese

Principal Languages: Portuguese, Creole

Major Exports: fish, shellfish and fish products, salt, bananas.

1462 Originally uninhabited; settled by Portuguese, who brought in slave labour from W Africa.
later 19th century Decline in prosperity as slave trade ended.
1950s Liberation movement developed on the islands and the Portuguese African mainland colony of Guinea-Bissau.
1951 Became an overseas territory of Portugal.
1975 Independence achieved. National people's assembly elected, with Aristides of the PAICV as the first executive president; a policy of nonalignment followed.
1981 Goal of union with Guinea-Bissau abandoned; became one-party state.
1988 Rising unrest and demand for political reforms.
1991 In first multi-party elections, new MPD won majority and Monteiro Mascarenhas became president; market-centred economic reforms introduced.