Since their belated independence in 1975, Africa's Lusophone countries have followed divergent and often difficult political trajectories. The papers that make up the panel examine the current status of three countries at different stages of political development. The most optimistic study considers Cape Verde, the island state that has constructed a credible and entrenched democratic culture that has been the basis of a high per capita income compared with most of Africa. Mozambique, on the other hand is still struggling with the processes of democratic transition. Finally, Guinea-Bissau, despite the recent elections remains politically fragile, potentially susceptible to coups and rebellion.