Why There Are More Natives of Cape Verde Away from Home: Catholic Priest

Credit: Agenzia Fides

A bigger percentage of the natives of the island nation in the central Atlantic Ocean, Cape Verde, have left the country and are living away from home, a Catholic Priest serving in the archipelago has said.

In a Tuesday, April 25 report shared with Agenzia Fides as Cape Verde prepares for the 2024 celebration of the 500th anniversary of the evangelization of Santiago, one of the archipelago’s islands, Fr. Antonio Ferreira who is heading the preparations says that many Cape Verdeans, especially the adult population, have left their native country in search of employment and better living conditions.

“There are about 500 thousand people living in Cape Verde, the majority are young,” Fr. Ferreira, the president of the national commission for the jubilee of the 500th anniversary of the evangelization of Santiago, says.

He adds, “People continue to emigrate from Cape Verde and to all corners of the world. But for all those who leave, the bond with the homeland remains very strong, and they feel they must contribute to the well-being of what is their home.”

“During the pandemic, diaspora aid was essential, and overall remittances hold up the economy. This phenomenon is experienced with pride: our communities abroad, usually well integrated, know that they are helping the country by helping their families,” Fr. Ferreira further says.


According to the Agenzia Fides report, there is a large number of Cape Verdeans living in other countries compared with those in their native country.

Agenzia Fides, the information service of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (Propaganda Fide), notes that due to the scarcity of resources and environmental problems, mainly linked to global warming, Cape Verde “remains a country characterized by poverty and currently has more population outside than inside its borders.”

Cape Verde is a state in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and is described as “a bridge that seems designed to connect Africa, Europe, and America.”

According to Agenzia Fides, the emigration started shortly after independence in 1975, and “the flow that does not seem to stop.”

People are fleeing from poverty, Fr. Ferreira says in the April 25 report, and explains, “The problem is that we have no natural resources. The only two sources of income are tourism and remittances from emigrants. Small local businesses and industries represent a minimal share of the labor market.”

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He says that one of the leading causes of emigration from Cape Verde is the lack of water due to the scarcity of rainfall.

Fr. Ferreira says that the government of Cape Verde is not sparing any efforts to ensure that the people access primary services, including education.

“There is a great effort by the government to ensure that all islands, even the most remote ones, have primary services,” the Catholic Priest says, and adds, “Schools at least up to secondary are being built on every island, and schooling is totally free thanks to a great effort by the government.”

“Every now and then, especially in the capital Praia or in the larger islands, because of social problems or unemployment, there are tensions. Overall, however, the situation is peaceful, and in the smaller islands it is absolutely calm,” he says, adding that recurring droughts and the lack of rain regularly pose a problem for the archipelago's economy.

Fr. Ferreira continues, “Everything is imported here, and the lack of rainfall and the very little water, are a huge problem for us.”


He further notes that the Cape Verdean government is working on a project to desalinate the sea waters for use.

More than 90 percent of the population in Cape Verde belongs to the Catholic Church, which has been present in the archipelago since the 15th century. 

There are also other denominations in the country, Fr. Ferreira says, lauding the co-existence between people of various faiths in the country.

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