As Cape Verde celebrated its 49th year of independence Friday, Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva wrapped up a weeklong visit to Massachusetts, where he encouraged local Cape Verdeans to increase their connections to the home country.

Cape Verde has more citizens overseas than on its own land, and one of the largest pocket of the diaspora is Massachusetts. According to a 2023 report by the Boston’s planning and development agency, the state is home to a little over 70,000 Cape Verdeans — nearly two-thirds of the total U.S. Cape Verdean population. Cape Verdeans make up 19% of the population of Brockton and 10% of New Bedford.

In an interview with GBH News, Correia e Silva said the Cape Verdeans in Massachusetts are full citizens of both countries, and there are many ways they can contribute even without returning to their ancestral home.

“They can contribute to the country, living in the United States, in terms of investment — which is evident — and in terms of remittances,” he said. “But it’s even in terms of, for instance medicine … you can do telemedicine and you can be present without physical presence. It’s the same in all the other activities.”

The prime minister said local Cape Verdeans’ most important responsibility is to vote in elections in both the U.S. and Cape Verde.

“The first thing we we do, everywhere, every time is: They need to be a good American citizen and a good Cape Verdean citizen, including they must be more implicated in the elections — to vote,” he said.

Two members of the Cape Verdean parliament are elected directly by the diaspora community in the Americas.

Cape Verde sits in the midst of shipping lanes off the west coast of Africa, meaning it is also in the lanes where African migrants are trying to make the journey to Europe. Last summer, dozens of Senegalese migrants died when their boat became stranded off the coast of Cape Verde.

Correia e Silva said Cape Verde in increasingly becoming a destination for migrants, and that the country has a clear system for helping them integrate into the country.

“You have this problem in Europe, in the United States, but the solution is to have a good regulation,” he said. “It’s not possible to have zero control on the border. It doesn’t exist. You need to have control, but you need to have good system of integration.”

During his Massachusetts visit, the prime minister hosted an “investment forum” to present opportunities in Cabo Verde, joined a gala dinner recognizing leading local Cape Verdean citizens and spoke at an independence celebration at Boston’s City Hall.

Maura Barrada, a Cape Verdean who lives in Brockton, said, “Celebrating Cape Verdean Independence Day in the United States not only gives a sense of home and family, but it also gives you an excuse to reconnect with the roots you left behind.”