U.S. Relations With Cabo Verde

Bureau of African Affairs
Fact Sheet
April 13, 2016

More information about Cabo Verde is available on the Cabo Verde Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.


The United States and Cabo Verde have strong historical roots. As early as the 1740s, U.S. whaling ships began recruiting crews from the islands of Brava and Fogo, and other ships from the American colonies routinely anchored in Cabo Verdean ports to trade. The tradition of emigration to the United States began at that time and continues today. Some 4,000 American citizens now reside in the country, while Cabo Verde’s Diaspora in the United States (primarily Massachusetts and Rhode Island) almost rivals the islands’ current population of over 500,000. The first U.S. consulate in sub-Saharan Africa was established in Cabo Verde in 1818. The United States established diplomatic relations with Cabo Verde in 1975, following its independence from Portugal. Cabo Verde was under one-party rule from independence until 1990; the first multiparty elections were held in 1991. A model of democratic governance, the country enjoys relatively high literacy rates, high per capita income, and positive health indicators. Cabo Verde has few natural resources, although fish and shellfish are plentiful. The economy is service-oriented, notably tourism.

Relations between the United States and Cabo Verde are cordial. Cabo Verde is one of Africa's success stories and an important U.S. partner in West Africa. Its strategic location means that Cabo Verde is increasingly at the crossroads of the transatlantic narcotics trade. The country has partnered with U.S. law enforcement officials to fight drug trafficking. Top U.S. priorities in Cabo Verde are maritime security, and increasing bilateral trade and economic development.  

U.S. Assistance to Cabo Verde

Given that Cabo Verde has the best development indicators of any country in the region and has become a lower middle-income country, U.S. assistance is more focused and limited. There is no bilateral USAID program.

In October 2010, Cabo Verde became the first African state—and the second worldwide--to complete its first Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact (for $110 million, signed in July 2005), which strengthened the investment climate, reformed the financial sector, enacted policy reforms, increased agricultural productivity, built or rebuilt roads, bridges, and ports; and improved public access to markets, jobs, and social services. On February 10, 2012, Cabo Verde signed a second MCC Compact for $66.2 million, which is focused on water, sanitation, and land management reforms. Limited U.S. security, counternarcotics, and law enforcement assistance seeks to build the capacity of Cabo Verde’s military and police to respond more effectively to various maritime security challenges.

Bilateral Economic Relations

Cabo Verde is eligible for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). U.S. exports to Cabo Verde include poultry, low-value shipments, vehicles, machinery, and perfumery and cosmetics. U.S. imports from Cabo Verde include machinery, aircraft parts, rum and tafia, prepared meats and fish, toys and sports equipment, and baking-related goods. Cabo Verde and the United States have signed an Open Skies agreement to facilitate air travel safety and expansion, which have led to the establishment of direct flights to and from New England. Lacking natural resources and fresh water, Cabo Verde has become a global leader in solar and wind energy and has sought expanded ties with American companies to develop these renewable resources.

Cabo Verde's Membership in International Organizations

Cabo Verde and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization.

Bilateral Representation

The U.S. Ambassador to Cabo Verde is Donald L. Heflin; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

Cabo Verde maintains an embassy in the United States at 3415 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington DC 20007 (tel. 202-965-6820).

More information about Cabo Verde is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Cabo Verde Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Cabo Verde Page
U.S. Embassy: Cabo Verde
History of U.S. Relations With Cabo Verde
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Millennium Challenge Corporation
Travel and Business Information