Ethnic Groups Of Cape Verde

Cape Verdean artists painting in the streets of Praia. Editorial credit: Alain Lauga /
Cape Verdean artists painting in the streets of Praia. Editorial credit: Alain Lauga /

Cape Verde is an African nation that is comprised by ten islands and five smaller islets. The islands are located off the west coast of Africa. The country is a socialist practicing a mixed economy, and there are state-operated enterprises such as public supply companies and the Society for Fish Purchasing and Marketing. The government does not interfere with the private investments, and Agriculture has been ignored in the country for a very long time. The country imports most of its food and parts of the rural areas practice subsistence agriculture as the main economic activity which include sugarcane, beans maize, and bananas. 5% of the total production in the country is produced by only 29% of the working population. Cape Verde is a former Portuguese colony and the culture in the country is a mixture of Portuguese and African cultures. Most Cabo Verdeans have both Portuguese and African ancestors and identify as Creole and Mulatto. Africans and Portuguese and other Europeans make up the rest of the population.

Creoles and Mulattoes

The Creole or Mulatto ethnic group boasts of comprising 71% of the total Cape Verdean population. The Creole population traces back their history to African slavery and Portuguese colonization. Cape Verde was an important slave trade center and linked Africa to the Western countries. Intermarriages between the freed slaves and the European settlers gave rise to the Creole population.

The Creole language was formed from African and European language elements as a means of communication between the two groups. Although Portuguese is the official language in the country, the Creole language is the most widely spoken across the country. The culture of the Creole population heavily derives from traditional African and European cultural elements. This cultural mixture is evidently visible in music, dance, and literary expressions. Creole dances include the Kizomba, Morna, Funana, and Coladeira and are widely performed in Creole weddings and festivities.


Africans are the largest minority ethnicity in Cape Verde. 28% of Cabo Verdeans have predominately African ancestry and trace their roots to slavery and the settlement of other African groups. African groups in modern day Cape Verde includes the Mandyako, Fulani, and Balante ethnic groups. African influence in Cape Verde is evident in traditional oral narratives, musical, and other artistic expressions. The batuko musical genre is performed by women whose rhythm and beats reflect African musical traditions. African culture in Cape Verde reflects heavily elements of the culture in West Africa. Festivals such as Tabanka are colorful African festivities in Cape Verde which attract participants from all over the world

Portuguese and Other Europeans

Portuguese and other European make up around 1% of the entirety of Cape Verde's population. Some of the European immigrants in Cape Verde are Italian and French. English and Portuguese are common languages in the European minority. European influence is especially evident in the architectural and wardrobe aspects of Cabo Verdeans’ way of life. The wealthy and middle-class in Cape Verde have adopted the Mediterranean style when building their homes. Western clothing has also been adopted in the islands although Cabo Verdeans also incorporate African elements.

Immigration and Emigration in Cape Verde

Cape Verde has long been an emigration country, with thousands from its population moving into Western nations and other African countries. Future predictions show that Cape Verde is well on its way to becoming an immigrant country. Future immigration to Cape Verde will be fueled by economic growth in the islands. The composition of the immigrants is predicted to be Cabo Verdeans living abroad, foreigners and Africans. These groups will contribute to the already culturally diverse country.

Ethnic Groups Of Cape Verde

RankEthnic GroupShare of Cabo Verdean Population
1Creole or Mulatto71%
3Portuguese or other European1%

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