Cape Verde

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A CHAIN OF islands in the mid-Atlantic, the Republic of Cape Verde was a Portuguese colony until it gained independence in 1975. It has a land area of 1,557 sq. mi. (4,033 sq. km.), with a population of 420,979 (July 2006 est.), and a population density of 326 people per sq. mi. (126 people per sq. km.). The country is very poor. Only 11 percent of the land arable, and a further 6 percent is used for meadows and pasture.

The soil is largely volcanic. Owing to a large population, and compounded by overgrazing and deforestation, there have been regular food shortages in the country from droughts. These may not all be due to global warming, as droughts have been recorded in the area since the 17th century. Over many centuries, Cape Verdeans have migrated overseas. Electricity production comes from fossil fuels. The country's carbon dioxide emissions are very low, ranging from 0.2 metric tons per capita in 1990, rising to 0.30 metric tons per capita in 2003. This is entirely due to the use of liquid fuels, and in spite of the small size of the islands, public transportation in Cape Verde is extremely limited.

The government of Antonio Mascarenhas Mon-teiro took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992, and ratified the Vienna Convention in 2001. It accepted the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on February 10, 2006, making it the 158th country to accept the Kyoto Protocol; it took effect on May 11, 2006.

SEE ALSO: Climate Change, Effects; Desertification; Drought; Volcanism.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. "Cape Verde—Climate and Atmosphere," (cited October 2007); Edward Dommen and Philippe Hein, eds., States, Microstates and Islands (Croom Helm, 1985).

JUSTIN CORFIELD Geelong Grammar School, Australia

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