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Cabo Verde

Repúblika di Kauberdi / República de Cabo Verde; Republic of Cabo Verde

Last modified: 2023-08-19 by rob raeside
Keywords: cabo verde | cape verde |
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Flag of Cabo Verde image by Željko Heimer, 30 March 2016

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Editorial remark: In 2013, the Government of this country requested that its common name in other languages should be unmodified "Cabo Verde". To conform with this request, the half-anglicized form "Cape Verde" was duly replaced in our pages for all editorial text, such as titles and listings. Previously received contributions were kept unchanged.

History of the flag

A new flag was adopted on 22 Sep 1992, when Cape Verde finally severed its links with Guinea-Bissau. The new flag has 10 stars representing the islands, set in a blue sea. Prior to 1992, the similarity between the two nations’ flags was explained by the fact that both were derived from the flag of the Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde (P.A.I.G.C.), the liberation movement which succeeded in gaining independence for both countries (Guinea-Bissau in 1974, Cape Verde in 1975). P.A.I.G.C.’s aim had been that the two nations should unite, but this merger was scotched in 1980 by a military coup in Guinea-Bissau.
C. Veale, quoting [dev94]

Meaning of the flag

  • The rectangle of the flag is seen as a large blue field symbolizing the infinite space of the sea and sky.
  • The ten yellow stars represent the 10 islands.
  • The circle of the stars symbolizes the Cape Verdean Nation and its unity.
  • The circle in a certain sense, is the world to which we are opened and that is opened to us; is the line of horizon which limits our freedom, that is the world map, but is also the mariner’s compass and the helm of the navigators.
  • The strips are the road to the construction of the country.
  • The blue is the sea and the sky.
  • The white is the peace we want.
  • The red is our effort.
Gvido Petersons, 15 Nov 2000, quoting from the website of CV embassy in US

Ten stars for ten islands

In a letter, dated 19 January 1993 of the office of the Ministry of Culture and Communications, I was told as follows:

The ten yellow stars represent the ten islands. They are in a circle meaning by this way the unity of the whole country and of the people.
In the only interview I have ever seen with the designer of the flag of Cabo Verde, Pedro Gregório Lopes, mentions that the ten stars represent the ten islands.
Jos Poels, 27 Jan 2014

The website of CV embassy in US describes the location of Cape Verde as:

West African archipelago of 10 islands and 8 islets, divided into two groups: Northern Windward (Barlavento): Boa Vista, Sal, Santo Antão, São Vicente, São Nicolau, and Santa Luzia; Southern Leeward (Sotavento): Brava, Fogo, Maio, Santiago.
A quick comparison to a list of inhabited islands tells you Santa Luzia is uninhabited but is counted as an island. Indeed, this is clearly an island; significantly larger than the islets at about half the size of the next larger island, Brava. In fact, Santa Luzia used to be an inhabited island in the past but lost its population in 1960 when living conditions became unfavourable.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 27 Jan 2014

There is a relationship between the flags of the Azores and Cape Verde: Both are Atlantic archipelagos, both have a Portuguese history and both flags include a lineup of golden stars representing the islands.
Volker Monterey, 27 Jan 2014

I’d say that the use of stars as a cardinal element to symbolize parts of the territory was not taken from any common Portuguese influence, but, I presume, seen as a general practice, certainly informed more by the U.S. case than by others, equally unrelated by sharing this aspect:
  • Brazil’s starry disc symbolizing its states since 1889,
  • two stars for two islands in the flag of St. Thomas and Prince,
  • or even four stars for four parts of the territory in the flag of East Timor’s U.D.T. party (for a long time seen as a serious contender to the title of quasi-national flag)
António Martins, 26 May 2017

No green

Recognizably in locally used languages, the word "verde" / "berdi" (as used in the country’s name) does mean "green" — a color deemed unsuitable for a country where drought is endemic («Txuba!»), and where the (blue) sea feeds the people: That was one of the reasons behind the lack of any green (a would-be canting element) on the new national flag of 1992, as explained by the flag’s designer Gregório Lopes in this interview.
António Martins, 30 Mar 2016

Use of the flag

Vertical hoisting

Flag of Cabo Verde image by Željko Heimer, 30 Mar 2016

The protocol manual for the London 2012 Olympics [loc12], with info approved by each NOC, gives for Cape Verde a vertical flag that is simply the horizontal version turned 90 degrees clockwise.
Ian Sumner, 10 Oct 2012

National Emblem

emblem of Cabo Verde image by Waldir and TonyJeff, extracted from Wikimedia Commons, 05 May 2016

As on the flag, the stars represent the main islands of Cape Verde; the plumb-bob is symbolic of rectitude and virtue; the torch and triangle represent unity and freedom.
Ivan Sache, 21 Jan 2001

It is interesting to note that this exact emblem doesn’t show on any flag we know so far (maybe on the elusive presidential flag — if it exists at all?), but yet some of its elements inspired many emblems (which are used on flags): The disc shaped shield, the arch of ten stars in two halves, and the chain links.
António Martins, 05 May 2016

Seems that the gathering of these 10 stars in two equal subsets of 5 is merely an esthetic / geometric choice; they don’t stand for the the two groups of islands that make up the country as those comprehend respectively 6 and 4 islands.
António Martins, 30 Mar 2016

The chain links are also found in most municipal emblems, but colored green.
António Martins, 30 Mar 2016

National markings on planes

Força Aérea Caboverdiana (formed 1982 — 6 cargo and light planes) and Guarda Costeira de Cabo Verde (with 1 plane); the book [cos98] reports a national flag as fin flash (changed as the flag changed in 1992). See on line photos with old and new markings, and the coast guard’s only plane with the flag-fin flash.
Dov Gutterman, 13 Jun 2004

Civil Defence of Cabo Verde

At the official web site, the emblem of the Civil Defense of Cape Verde, almost identical to the Portuguese one, including the basic design of a blue triangle on orange, as prescribed by the Geneva Convention. I could not find any mention to a flag, though, nor shown nor described.
António Martins, 14 Jan 2007 and 26 Mar 2016