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Uninhabited on their discovery in 1456, the Cape Verde islands became part of the Portuguese empire in 1495. A majority of today's inhabitants are of mixed Portuguese and African ancestry.

Positioned on the great trade routes between Africa, Europe, and the New World, the islands became a prosperous center for the slave trade but suffered economic decline after the slave trade was abolished in 1876. In the 20th century, Cape Verde served as a shipping port.

In 1951, Cape Verde's status changed from a Portuguese colony to an overseas province, and in 1961 the inhabitants became full Portuguese citizens. An independence movement led by the African Party for the Independence of Guinea-Bissau (another former Portuguese colony) and Cape Verde (PAIGC) was founded in 1956. Following the 1974 coup in Portugal, after which Portugal began abandoning its colonial empire, the islands became independent (5 July 1975).

On 31 Jan. 1991, the first multiparty elections since independence resulted in the ruling African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV) losing its majority to the Movement for Democracy Party (MPD). The MPD candidate, Antonio Monteiro, won the subsequent presidential election, and was easily reelected in 1996. In 2001, Pedro Pires became president.




Colónia de Cabo Verde

Província de Cabo Verde

19.03.1933 - 1951

1951 - 05.07.1975


For a long time the Cabo Verde Islands belonged to the Portuguese Seaborne Empire. It was only in 1935 that its individuality was recognized by the grant of a coat of arms. It is of a thoroughly Portuguese colonial design. The shield is tierced with in the first the Portuguese quinas and in base green waves of the sea. The second is reserved for the emblem of Cabo Verde. It is Vert, a caravel Sable, sails Argent, the carpentry Or, and a base wavy of seven Argent and Vert.

The shield is supported by the Portuguese armillary sphere, crowned with a mural crown of five towers.

The arms were adopted 8 May 1935. [1]






With ships like the caravel, shown here, the Portuguese Seaborne Empire was founded in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. [2]


Arms of Cabo Verde province, 1933

First design [3]


Arms of Cabo Verde province, 1933

Second design

Arms of Cabo Verde Colony, 08-05-1935


Arms of Cabo Verde province, 1951

Provincial seal [4]



5. VII. 1975 - present





The first coat of arms of the Republic was adopted on the day of independence, 5 July 1975. It is:


Arms: An open book charged with a cogwheel and a five-pointed star on a pole, all in black rendering, and a bordure with the motto  UNIDADE • TRABALHO • PROGRESSO (Unity, Work, Progress).

Garland: Around a disc Gules, two maize cobs with their leves proper and in base a shell Or.


In this coat of arms the book and the cogwheel symbolize the efforts to develop culture and industry. The black star is for the Africans regaining their dignity by the proclamation of independence.

The maize cobs are for the main crop of the islands, the shell is for the Atlantic in which the islands are situated. 

Sometimes the arms are rendered in black and white.





Maybe to avoid confusion of  the national emblem with the one of Guiné Bissau and the former emblem of the PAIGC, a thoroughly new coat of arms was adopted by Constitution of 1992. It is:


Arms: Argent, a triangle Azure charged with a flaming torch Argent, surrounded by the title REPÚBLICA DE CABO VERDE  in black lettering, and a base barry of six Azure and Argent; and a bordure of three concentric rings Azure, Argent and Azure.

Crest: A plummet Or.

Garland: A golden chain of three shackles in base, two palm leaves Vert and ten five-pointed stars Or


In the first drafts of this coat of arms, shown here, the triangle was Gules, the flaming torch Or, the bars and bordure of a light shade of blue. In later versions, after the Constitution of 1999, this was corrected according to the text of the law, taking the opportunity to change the color of the triangle, bars and bordure in a darker shade of blue.


ð See illustration in the head of this essay. (download also from: Wikimedia, Cabo Verde,  arms)


The article about the national symbols of the constitution of 1999 repeats the redaction of 1992 and reads (in portuguese):




Lei Constitucional n.º 1/V/99 de 23 de Novembro


Artigo 8º

(Símbolos nacionais)


1. A Bandeira, o Hino e as Armas Nacionais são símbolos da República de Cabo Verde e da soberania nacional.


2. A Bandeira Nacional é constituída por cinco rectângulos dispostos no sentido do comprimento e sobrepostos.

a) Os rectângulos superior e inferior são de cor azul, ocupando o superior uma superfície igual a metade da bandeira e o inferior um quarto.

b) Separando os dois rectângulos azuis, existem três faixas, cada uma com a superfície igual a um duodécimo da área da Bandeira.

c) As faixas adjacentes aos rectângulos azuis são de cor branca e a que fica entre estas é de cor vermelha.

d) Sobre os cinco rectângulos, dez estrelas amarelas de cinco pontas, com o vértice superior na posição dos noventa graus, definem um círculo cujo centro se situa na intersecção da mediana do segundo quarto vertical a contar da esquerda com a mediana do segundo quarto horizontal a contar do bordo inferior. A estrela mais próxima deste bordo está inscrita numa circunferência invisível cujo centro fica sobre a mediana da faixa azul inferior.


3.O Hino Nacional é o Cântico da Liberdade cujas letra e música se publicam em anexo à presente Constituição de que fazem parte integrante.


4. As Armas da República de Cabo Verde reflectem uma composição radial que apresenta, do centro para a periferia, os seguintes elementos:

·                        Um triângulo equilátero de cor azul sobre o qual se inscreve um facho de cor branca;

·                        Uma circunferência limitando um espaço no qual se inscreve, a partir do ângulo esquerdo e até o direito do triângulo, as palavras «REPÚBLICA DE CABO VERDE»;

·                        Três segmentos de recta de cor azul paralelos à base do triângulo, limitados pela primeira circunferência;

·                        Uma segunda circunferência;

·                        Um prumo de cor amarela, alinhado com o vértice do triângulo equilátero, sobreposto às duas circunferências na sua parte superior;

·                        Três elos de cor amarela ocupando a base da composição, seguidos de duas palmas de cor verde e dez estrelas de cinco pontas de cor amarela dispostas simetricamente em dois grupos de cinco.





Armed Forces



Comando Territorial Independente de Cabo Verde


Banner [5]

Motto: For Belief and Fatherland



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© Hubert de Vries 2008.12.11. Updated: 2011-11-17; 2019-03-04




[1]  Der Herold, 1943 pp. A3 - A4

[2] Source: Henry C. Murphy. The Voyage of Verrazzano: A Chapter in the Early History of Maritime Discovery in America. New York: 1875. Memorial University of Newfoundland & Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

[3] http://hemerotecadigital.cm-lisboa.pt/Periodicos/BoletimdaSociedadeLusoAfricana/BoletimdaSociedadeLusoAfricana.htm

[4] Almeida Langhans, Franz Paul de: Armorial do Ultramar Português. Lisboa, 1966 . P. 68.

[5]  From: Guerra do Ultramar: Brasões, Guiões e Crachás

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