The United States and Cape 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 Cape 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 Cape 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 Cape Verde in 1818. The United States established diplomatic relations with Cape Verde in 1975, following its independence from Portugal. Cape 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. Cape Verde has few natural resources, although fish and shellfish are plentiful. The economy is service-oriented, notably tourism.
Relations between the United States and Cape Verde are cordial. Cape Verde is one of Africa's success stories and an important U.S. partner in West Africa. Its strategic location means that Cape Verde is increasingly at the crossroads of the transatlantic narcotics trade. The country has cooperated with U.S. law enforcement officials to fight drug trafficking. Top U.S. priorities in Cape Verde are maritime security, domain awareness, and border control, as well as the crosscutting areas of bilateral engagement and development.