|Horace Silver, jazz pianist|
And it's a very interesting question to ask for several reasons.
First, it has significant implications for the country's economy because almost 10% of the GDP comes from remittances sent to Cape Verdean families from members who live in other lands, and provides support to families for the basics of living as well as to start small businesses. Remittances were actually an even higher percentage of the total economic output but have been surpassed by tourism and foreign direct investments.
Cape Verdeans emigrants often return home to work, start businesses themselves, or simply to retire. They often return with greater educational accomplishments, professional expertise, and assets. They thus can make invaluable contributions to Cape Verdean society.
|Cape Verde Festival, RI, USA|
History of the Diaspora
|Associacão Beneficiente Caboverdiana|
When the US instituted extremely restrictive immigration policies starting around 1920, many Cape Verdeans began to emigrate to Senegal, a French colony at the time, because of its proximity. The Cape Verdeans in Senegal began to migrate to France after Senegal gained its independence. Senegal has the fifth largest Cape Verdean expat community.
Around the 1960s, Cape Verdeans joined the wave of immigrant labor movements to Western Europe especially Portugal, the colonial master at the time. Today, Portugal has the second highest and France the fourth highest population of Cape Verdean expats.
Then starting in the 1970s, the emigration levels were drastically reduced because of strict immigration policies in the US and Europe. In fact, the population growth rate in Cape Verde which had been negative for many years (more people emigrating that being born), turned quite positive and then tripled from the 1970s to around 2.5% per year in the 1990s.
|Cape Verdeans, Southern California, USA|
Could it be one million? I think this is too high. One way to actually figure out the number is via simple math. The number of Cape Verdeans who've ever been born must be equal to those who are alive in Cape Verde plus those Cape verdeans who are alive outside of Cape Verde plus all who ever died. Ignoring deaths, then the diaspora would be one million only if there were 1.5 million Cape Verdeans ever born (and even higher when you add all of those who've ever died). For that to be true, Cape Verde must consistently have had an incredibly high birth rate per thousand for hundreds of years. I doubt that's been the case.
Who is the Diapora?
|New Bedford, Cabo Verde Expo|
For an interesting scoop on the making of a new documentary by Claire Andrade, about the history of one on the oldest Cape Verdean communities in the USA, see the video below:
And what about all those foreigners who have no Cape Verdean ancestry but want to come live in Cape Verde? LOL. Maybe this is the clue to the answer. The number of people outside Cape Verde who consider themselves connected to it for one reason or another may far exceed its current population. Perhaps that includes you! If not, before you visit Cape Verde, get to know someone from there who lives in your community.