Sal, Cape Verde

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Coordinates 16°43′N22°56′W / 16.717°N 22.933°W / 16.717; -22.933
Area219.84 km2 (84.88 sq mi)
Length29.7 km (18.45 mi)
Width11.8 km (7.33 mi)
Highest elevation406 m (1332 ft)
Highest point Monte Grande
Largest settlement Espargos
Population39700 (2019)
Pop. density180/km2 (470/sq mi)

Sal (Portuguese for "salt") is an island in Cape Verde. Sal is a tourist destination with white sandy beaches and over 350 days of sunshine a year. It is one of the three sandy eastern islands of the Cape Verde archipelago in the central Atlantic Ocean, 350 mi (560 km) off the west coast of Africa. Cabo Verde is known for year-round kiteboarding, for the large reserve of Caretta turtles which hatch from July to September, and the music of Cesaria Evora.



The island was discovered on 3 December 1460 and named Llana ("flat"). This name was changed into the current "Sal" when the two large salt ponds (Pedra de Lume and Santa Maria) were discovered. [1] The first three centuries after its discovery, the island was only sparsely inhabited; in 1720 there was a small fishing village near present Palmeira. [2] This changed when the salt industry was developed at the end of the 18th century, starting in Pedra de Lume. Santa Maria was founded in the south of the island in 1830 by Manuel António Martins. [2] During this time the salt industry thrived, with 30,000 tons of salt being exported in the early years. Most of the salt was exported to Brazil until its nationalization in 1887, Portuguese and French salt investors resumed salt production until 1984. [2]

In 1939 Italy started constructing an airport to receive flights from Europe and South America. Construction was halted and ceased around World War II. The Portuguese bought the airport from the Italians and finished it in 1949. Northeast of the airport, workers from São Nicolau Island settled in a village named Preguiça, now part of Espargos. Hurricane Fred struck the island of Sal in late summer 2015, causing damage to houses, tourist facilities and ships.


The island is 29.7 km long and 11.8 km wide. [3] :25 Its area is 219.84 km2 (84.88 sq mi). [4] It is one of the three sandy eastern islands (Sal, Boa Vista and Maio) of the archipelago, with white sandy beaches. The island is fairly flat; its highest point is Monte Grande, at 406 m elevation. [3] :25 The uninhabited islet Ilhéu Rabo de Junco lies near the west coast of Sal. Saline marshes can be found in the Pedra de Lume crater and north of Santa Maria.


Sal Island has on average 350 days of sunshine a year. Winds mainly blow from the northeast. However, some days do also have clouds, but they tend to be scattered and seldom bring rain. The 'rainy season' is from July to mid-October, although rainfall is still low.

Climate data for Sal, Cape Verde (Amílcar Cabral International Airport) 1981–2010, extremes 1950–1990
Record high °C (°F)32
Average high °C (°F)24.8
Daily mean °C (°F)21.5
Average low °C (°F)18.9
Record low °C (°F)12
Average precipitation mm (inches)6.7
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)11000002311010
Average relative humidity (%)69.070.970.970.673.375.475.575.977.174.772.971.173.1
Mean monthly sunshine hours 182.9175.2201.5216.0204.6174.0148.8161.2180.0198.4189.0155.02,186.6
Mean daily sunshine hours
Source 1: Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia e Geofísica [5]
Source 2: Deutscher Wetterdienst (extremes, precipitation days, and sun) [6]


Administratively, the island of Sal is covered by one municipality, Concelho do Sal. This municipality consists of one freguesia (civil parish), Nossa Senhora das Dores, which also covers the whole island. The municipality of Sal was created in 1935, when it was separated from the Municipality of Boa Vista. [7] The municipal seat was originally at Santa Maria, but Espargos became the municipal seat in the 1970s.[ citation needed ]

The freguesia is subdivided into the following settlements:


Since 2016, the Movement for Democracy (MpD) is the ruling party of the municipality. The results of the latest elections, in 2016: [8]

PartyMunicipal CouncilMunicipal Assembly
MpD 50.88750.189
PAICV 43.58041.147
UCID 2.8205.831


As of 1832, the population was estimated at 400 people. [9] Until 1960, it was the least populous island of the nine inhabited islands of Cape Verde, with less than 3,000 inhabitants. [10] Since then the population has been growing rapidly, reaching around 40,000 in 2019, which makes it the third most populous island in Cape Verde, after Santiago and São Vicente, and having overtaken Santo Antão and Fogo. [11]

Population of Sal (1940—2015)
1940 [10]
1950 [10]
1960 [10]
1970 [10]
1980 [10]
1990 [10]
2000 [10]
2010 [4]
2015 [3] :36
2019 [11]


Sal's main town, Espargos, is home to one of the nation's international airports. Tourism, focused on the area of Santa Maria, has replaced salt and fishing as the main source of income. In 2017, 48.2% of the country's available beds were on the island of Sal. [12] The living standards on the island are among the best in the Cape Verde archipelago. The island's GDP per capita as of 2015 is 495,827 escudos (4,497 euro). [13]


The island is home to Amílcar Cabral International Airport, the busiest airport of Cape Verde. The main port of the island of Sal is at Palmeira. The main roads are:


Football (soccer) is the chief sports on the island. It has the Sal Regional Football Association and its main competitions are the Premier and the Second Divisions. Its main clubs are Académica do Sal, Académico do Aeroporto, Juventude and SC Santa Maria. The island's main stadium is Estádio Marcelo Leitão situated southeast of Espargos's center and all regional matches are played. Also Basketball is the second most popular on the island as well as volleyball, they are played at Polidesportivo do Sal, Académico do Sal is the island's best basketball team. Futsal is also played. Also dominant particularly in the beaches the south of the island and its surrounding waters are surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing, recently gained for about 25 years and becoming the most dominant in the nation in windsurfing and kitesurfing.

Twin towns - Sister cities

Sal is twinned with:

Notable residents

See also

Related Research Articles

Most transportation in Cape Verde is done by air. There are regular flights between the major islands, with less frequent flights to the other islands. Boat transportation is available, though not widely used nor dependable. In the major cities, public bus transport runs periodically and taxis are common. In smaller towns, there are mostly hiaces and/or taxis.

Boa Vista, Cape Verde Cape Verde island

Boa Vista, also written as Boavista, is a desert-like island that belongs to the Cape Verde Islands. At 631.1 km2 (243.7 sq mi), it is the third largest island of the Cape Verde archipelago.

Santiago, Cape Verde Largest island of Cape Verde

Santiago is the largest island of Cape Verde, its most important agricultural centre and home to half the nation's population. Part of the Sotavento Islands, it lies between the islands of Maio and Fogo. It was the first of the islands to be settled: the town of Ribeira Grande was founded in 1462. Santiago is home to the nation's capital city of Praia.

Espargos Settlement in Sal, Cape Verde

Espargos is the capital and main commercial centre of the island and municipality of Sal, Cape Verde. The city is situated in the heart of the island.

Santa Maria, Cape Verde Settlement in Sal, Cape Verde

Santa Maria is a city in the southern part of the island municipality of Sal, Cape Verde. It is located on the south coast, about 16 km south of the Amílcar Cabral International Airport, and 20 km south of the island capital Espargos.

Pedra Badejo Settlement in Santiago, Cape Verde

Pedra Badejo is a city in the eastern part of the island of Santiago, Cape Verde. It is on the east coast, 25 km (16 mi) north of the island capital Praia, 8 km (5.0 mi) southeast of Calheta de São Miguel and 15 km (9.3 mi) east of Assomada. It is the seat of Santa Cruz municipality. At the 2010 census, the town had 9,859 inhabitants.

Sal Rei Settlement in Boa Vista, Cape Verde

Sal Rei is a city on the northwestern coast of the island of Boa Vista in eastern Cape Verde. Sal Rei is the island's main urban settlement, and the seat of the Boa Vista Municipality. In 2010 its population was 5,778. The name of the settlement means "Salt King" in Portuguese. This name stems from when the island's main industry was salt production.

Académica do Sal

Associação Académica do Sal is a football club that had played in the Premier division and plays in the Sal Island League in Cape Verde. It is based in the city of Espargos in the island of Sal and its location is on Palmeira Road next to the city library. It is one of many teams that only won one title since independence. Its current proprietor is Mário Ramos.

Estádio Marcelo Leitão Sports stadium in Sal Island, Cape Verde

Estádio Marcelo Leitão is a multi-use stadium in Sal Island, Cape Verde. It is used mostly for football matches and now track and field and has a capacity of 8,000 people. It is named for Marcelo Leitão, one of the two main features on the island, the other is a square located in Santa Maria. The stadium is owned by the municipality of Sal and still does as the municipality has yet to split into two. The stadium are operated by the Sal Regional Football (Soccer) and Athletic associations. It is the home stadium of Espargos teams, Académico do Aeroporto and others based in a neighborhood Juventude and recently Chã de Matias, Gaviões, Jovens Unidos of Ribeira Funda and Pretória, it is also home to the island's club Académica do Sal. The ground is made of artificial grass, its area is 105 x 68 meters. Its location is south of the road connecting the east of the city with the road encircling most of the city. The stadium also had recently constructed parking lots.

Palmeira, Cape Verde Settlement in Sal, Cape Verde

Palmeira is a town in the northwestern part of the island of Sal, Cape Verde. In 2010 its population was 1,420. The town is situated on the west coast, about 4 km west of the island capital Espargos. Located at Baía de Palmeira, a small bay south of the village, it is home to the main port of the island of Sal. It is the third busiest port of Cape Verde in freight traffic.

Pedra de Lume Settlement in Sal, Cape Verde

Pedra de Lume is a village in the northeastern part of the island of Sal, Cape Verde. The village is situated on the east coast, about 5 km east of the island capital Espargos. It has a small port and a lighthouse, Farol de Pedra de Lume.

Terra Boa, Cape Verde Settlement in Sal, Cape Verde

Terra Boa is a remote village in the northern part of the island of Sal, Cape Verde. In 2010 its population was 131. The village is about 4 km north of the island capital Espargos.

Sport Club Verdun is a football (soccer) club that plays in the Sal Island League in Cape Verde. The team is based in the village of Pedra de Lume in the east of the island of Sal, though they play in Espargos' stadium, the home field which is made up of dirt is rarely used for practices. Its current chairman is Alcindo Conceição Silva and its current manager is Domingo Gomes who replaced Djulhiano Santos which he now manages Juventude.

Manuel António Martins was a Portuguese businessman and colonial governor of Cape Verde and Portuguese Guinea from 1834 to 1835. Martins was said to be the richest man in the country and nicknamed the Napoleon of the Cape Verde Islands. He arrived in Cape Verde in 1792. He started the exploitation of the salt ponds of Pedra de Lume on the island of Sal in 1796.

Santa Maria salt ponds

The salt ponds of Santa Maria are a complex of salt evaporation ponds north of the city Santa Maria in the southernmost part of the island of Sal, Cape Verde. It is one of two on the island, the other is near Pedra de Lume. The salt ponds are a protected area as a protected landscape, covering 69 hectares.

Architecture of Cape Verde

The Architecture of Cape Verde has different architectural styles in the nation. Unlike the African mainland, Cape Verde was uninhabited until 1461 when the Portuguese arrived, most of the other islands were first inhabited after the end of the 15th century. Its architecture was introduced in the 1460s and has its first origins from Portuguese settlers from the Madeira Islands, after the first arrival of mainland Africans, a bit of African architecture would be elements mainly in rural areas. The Manueline was its first architectural style on the island, it was later followed by Renaissance, Baroque, Pombaline, Early Modern and Modern. It was one of the last in the whole of Africa to introduce architecture late. Cape Verde has one of the richest architecture in the western portion of West Africa, the sub-Saharan portion, the richest probably being Mali.

Sports in Sal, Cape Verde

The island of Sal in Cape Verde in the east of the Barlavento Islands is home to several teams and clubs. The major professional club may now be Académico do Aeroporto do Sal, the remaining clubs are amateur or beginners. In 1976, Sal would have its own island championships of each sport. The football competition was the third along with Fogo to have its own first held in 1976 after the nation's independence. Since 2014, the football (soccer) was the only competition divided into two divisions.


EN1-SL01 is a first class national road on the island of Sal, Cape Verde. It runs from Espargos to Santa Maria. It is Sal's only dual carriageway. In Espargos it is connected with EN1-SL-02 to Palmeira and EN3-SL-02 to Pedra de Lume. In Santa Maria it is connected with EN3-SL-01 to Ponta do Sinó.


  1. Localização Geográfica, Câmara Municipal do Sal
  2. 1 2 3 Ray Almeida. "A History of Ilha do Sal". Archived from the original on 6 February 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Cabo Verde, Statistical Yearbook 2015, Instituto Nacional de Estatística
  4. 1 2 2010 Census Summary
  5. "Normais Climatológicas" (in Portuguese). Instituto Nacional de Meteorologia e Geofísica. Archived from the original on 29 December 2020. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  6. "Klimatafel von Santa Maria / Sal (Int.Flugh.) / Kapverden (Rep. Kap Verde)" (PDF). Baseline climate means (1961-1990) from stations all over the world (in German). Deutscher Wetterdienst. Retrieved 6 November 2018.
  7. Direito da Terra, Compêndio de Legislação, p. 272
  8. Official results local elections 2016, Boletim Oficial I Série, Número 53, 23 September 2016
  9. Roberts, Edmund (1837). Embassy to the Eastern Courts of Cochin-China, Siam, and Muscat. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 14.
  10. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Source: Statoids
  11. 1 2 Instituto Nacional de Estatistica, Cabo Verde (web).
  12. "INE Estatísticas do Turismo 2017" (PDF) (in Portuguese).
  13. Anuário Estatístico 2016, Instituto Nacional de Estatística