Santiago, Cape Verde

Last updated
Native name:

Nickname: Ilha-berço (cradle island)
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Cape Verde location map Topographic.png
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Location Atlantic Ocean
Coordinates 15°04′N23°38′W / 15.067°N 23.633°W / 15.067; -23.633 Coordinates: 15°04′N23°38′W / 15.067°N 23.633°W / 15.067; -23.633
Area991 km2 (383 sq mi)
Length54.9 km (34.11 mi)
Width28.8 km (17.9 mi)
Highest elevation1,392 m (4567 ft)
Highest point Pico de Antónia
Concelhos (Municipalities) Praia, Ribeira Grande de Santiago, Santa Catarina, Santa Cruz, São Domingos, São Lourenço dos Órgãos, São Miguel, São Salvador do Mundo, Tarrafal
Largest settlement Praia (pop. 151,436)
Population294,135 [1] :36 (2015)
Pop. density296.8/km2 (768.7/sq mi)

Santiago (Portuguese for “Saint James”) 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 (26 km (16 mi) to the east) and Fogo (55 kilometres (34 miles) to the west). It was the first of the islands to be settled: the town of Ribeira Grande (now Cidade Velha) was founded in 1462. Santiago is home to the nation's capital city of Praia.



The pillory in Cidade Velha. Pelourinho.Cidade Velha.jpg
The pillory in Cidade Velha.
The Serra Malagueta mountain range in the northern part of the island of Santiago, Cape Verde Serra Malagueta CV.jpg
The Serra Malagueta mountain range in the northern part of the island of Santiago, Cape Verde
Santiago island. The wetter climate of the interior and the eastern coast contrasts with the dryer one in the south/southwest coast Picos, Cape Verde.jpg
Santiago island. The wetter climate of the interior and the eastern coast contrasts with the dryer one in the south/southwest coast

The eastern side of the nearby island of Fogo collapsed into the ocean 73,000 years ago, creating a tsunami 170 meters high which struck Santiago. [2]

In 1460, António de Noli became the first European to visit the island and meet its inhabitants. Da Noli settled at Ribeira Grande (now Cidade Velha) with his family members and Portuguese from Algarve and Alentejo in 1462. [3] :77 Transcontinental slavery made Cidade Velha the second richest city in the Portuguese realm. [4] The wealth of Ribeira Grande and conflicts between Portugal and rival colonial powers France and Britain attracted pirate attacks, including those by Francis Drake (1585) and Jacques Cassard (1712). [3] :195 Ribeira Grande went into decline, and the capital was moved to Praia in 1770. [5]

Cessation in the slave trade in the 19th century resulted in an economic crisis, and the growing port of Mindelo on São Vicente replaced Praia as the most important port. With few natural resources and inadequate sustainable investment from the Portuguese, the citizens grew increasingly discontented with the colonial masters, who nevertheless refused to provide the local authorities with more autonomy. The island's native population was disadvantaged by the Portuguese colonial system and supported Amílcar Cabral and the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde and the independence of 1975.


Santiago is the largest island of Cape Verde, with an area of 991 square kilometres (383 square miles). It is 54.9 km long and 28.8 km wide. [1] :25 The island is mountainous, although slightly flatter in the southeast. The interior and the east coast are seasonally, and somewhat sporadically, hot tropical in climate and forested, whereas the south and southwest occupy the central uplands' arid rain shadow.

The tallest summit is Pico de Antónia, elevation 1,392 m (4,567 ft), [1] :25 barely west of Picos, in the centre of the island. The second is Serra Malagueta between Assomada and Tarrafal in the north. Other mountain ranges include Órgãos in the municipality of São Lourenço dos Órgãos and Monte das Vacas near Praia.

Santiago's west coast is rugged, especially at Baía do Inferno, and less populated than the east and south coasts. The most important rivers are Ribeira Seca, Ribeira Grande de Santiago, Ribeira Principal and Ribeira da Trindade. The southernmost point is Ponta Temerosa and the northernmost, Ponta Moreia. [1] :26

The Cape Verde islands are very naturally degraded. Due to their proximity to the Sahara, most are dry, but on those with high mountains and farther away from the continent, by orography (relief precipitation), the humidity is much higher, giving small upland rainforest habitats, but strongly affected by human presence. Northeastern slopes of high mountains receive heavy rain several times most years. Much of the altitude is sufficient for a mild climate and subject-to-seasonal-drought but typically moist soil. Some islands, as on Santiago, have vegetation-clad (cloud forests) where the dense moisture condenses and soaks the plants, and soil.

Administrative divisions

Since 2005, the island of Santiago is divided into nine municipalities: Praia, Ribeira Grande de Santiago, Santa Catarina, Santa Cruz, São Domingos, São Lourenço dos Órgãos, São Miguel, São Salvador do Mundo and Tarrafal. [1] :27 Before the creation of the municipality of Santa Catarina in 1834, the island was one municipality. Since then, seven more municipalities were created as shown below. [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

Santo Amaro Abade SCSCTATATATATA = Tarrafal
São Miguel Arcanjo SCSCTATATASMSM = São Miguel
Santa Catarina SCSCSCSCSCSCSC = Santa Catarina
São Salvador do Mundo SCPRPRSCSCSCSSM = São Salvador do Mundo
São João Baptista SCPRPRPRPRPRRGST = Ribeira Grande de Santiago
Santíssimo Nome de Jesus PRPRPRPRPRPRRGST = Ribeira Grande de Santiago
Santiago Maior PRPRPRSZSZSZSZ = Santa Cruz
São Lourenço dos Órgãos PRPRPRSZSZSZSLO = São Lourenço dos Órgãos
Nossa Senhora da Graça PRPRPRPRPRPRPR = Praia
Nossa Senhora da Luz PRPRPRPRSDSDSD = São Domingos
São Nicolau Tolentino PRPRPRPRSDSDSD = São Domingos


Praia, located in the southeast coast, is the largest city on the island, and also the largest city and capital of the country. Other towns on the island include Cidade Velha, west of Praia, Cape Verde's first capital; Assomada, in the centre of the island; Tarrafal in the north; Pedra Badejo and Calheta de São Miguel along the east coast.

In the 1830s, Santiago's population was estimated at 30,000. [11] Santiago has always been the most populous island in Cape Verde. The island population has doubled since the independence of Cape Verde in 1975. [12] The population of the island was 294,135 in 2015; the population density was 297/km2. [1] :31, 36

Population of Santiago (1940—2015)
1940 [12]
1950 [12]
1960 [12]
1970 [12]
1980 [12]
1990 [12]
2000 [12]
2010 [13]
2015 [1] :36



Santiago is served by the Nelson Mandela International Airport, near Praia. It is the second busiest airport in Cape Verde, after Amílcar Cabral International Airport on Sal, with 662,356 passengers in 2017. [14]


The main port of Santiago is Praia Harbor, in Praia. It is the second busiest port in Cape Verde, after Porto Grande Bay on São Vicente, with 817,845 metric tonnes of cargo and 85,518 passengers handled in 2017. [15] There are ferry connections from Praia Harbor to the islands of Brava, Fogo, São Nicolau, São Vicente, Maio, Boa Vista and Sal. [16] There are several small fishing ports along the coast, including Tarrafal, Cidade Velha, Pedra Badejo and Calheta de São Miguel.


Santiago has 417 km (259 mi) of national roads, of which 167 km (104 mi) first class roads. [17] In addition, there are several municipal [18] and local roads. The first class national roads are:

Number [19] [20] Route
EN1-ST01 North Praia - São Domingos - João Teves - Assomada - Tarrafal
EN1-ST02 Ribeirão Chiqueiro - Pedra Badejo - Calheta de São Miguel - Achada Monte - Tarrafal (Variante Tarrafal)
EN1-ST03João Teves - Achada Fazenda
EN1-ST04 Boa Entrada - Calheta de São Miguel
EN1-ST05 West Praia - São Martinho Grande - Cidade Velha
EN1-ST06West Praia - North Praia - Praia Airport - Praia Harbor (Circular da Praia)

Public transport within the city of Praia is provided by the city buses of the company SolAtlântico. Intercity public transport is provided by share taxis and minibuses. In 2015 a project called EcobusCV started running a fleet of dual fuel waste vegetable oil / diesel minibuses between Praia and Assomada. However, services were suspended in November 2016. [21]


The main industries are agriculture, tourism, fishing and others, alongside some manufacturing. Main agricultural products are corn, sugarcane, banana, coffee and mangoes.[ citation needed ]


Several institutes of higher education are active on Santiago: University of Cape Verde (Praia, Assomada and São Jorge), Jean Piaget University of Cape Verde (Praia), Universidade de Santiago (Assomada, Praia and Tarrafal), Instituto Superior de Ciências Económicas e Empresariais (Praia), Instituto Superior de Ciências Jurídicas e Sociais (Praia) and Universidade Lusofona de Cabo Verde (Praia). [22] The Liceu Domingos Ramos is a public secondary school in Praia. The National Library of Cape Verde is also located in Praia.


Santiago has the most diverse flora and fauna of all Cape Verde: it has 1,915 identified land species, of which 289 are endemic. [23] It is also the most forested island of Cape Verde: 38% of its area is forest. [23] The only protected areas of the island are the Natural Parks of Serra do Pico de Antónia and Serra Malagueta, [24] covering 3.68% of the island. [23]

Endangered endemic species of flora and fauna on Santiago include the plants Campanula bravensis , Campylanthus glaber , Conyza feae , Conyza pannosa , Diplotaxis varia , Echium hypertropicum , Limonium lobinii , Micromeria forbesii , Sonchus daltonii and Umbilicus schmidtii , and the animals Chioninia vaillantii and Tarentola rudis . [25]


Several sports are practised on Santiago, including football (soccer), basketball, volleyball, track and field, futsal and athletics. There are two football associations on the island: Santiago North and Santiago South, each with its own competitions. Santiago possesses the most major sports complexes in the country, they include Estádio da Várzea in Praia, Cumbém in Assomada, Mangue in Tarrafal, one in Pedra Badejo and Estádio da Calheta in Calheta de São Miguel.

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.

Praia Capital of Cape Verde

Praia is the capital and largest city of Cape Verde. Located on the southern coast of Santiago island, within the Sotavento Islands group, the city is the seat of the Praia Municipality. Praia is the economic, political, and cultural center of Cape Verde.

Cidade Velha Settlement in Santiago, Cape Verde

Cidade Velha is a city in the southern part of the island of Santiago, Cape Verde. Founded in 1462, it is the oldest settlement in Cape Verde and its former capital. Once called Ribeira Grande, its name was changed to Cidade Velha in the late 18th century. It is the seat of the Ribeira Grande de Santiago municipality.

Santa Catarina, Cape Verde Municipality of Cape Verde

Santa Catarina is a concelho (municipality) of Cape Verde. It is situated in the western part of the island of Santiago. Its seat is the city of Assomada. Its population was 45,920 in 2017 (estimate). Its area is 242.6 km2 (93.7 sq mi).

Santa Cruz, Cape Verde Municipality of Cape Verde

Santa Cruz is a concelho (municipality) of Cape Verde. It is situated in the eastern part of the island of Santiago. Its seat is the city Pedra Badejo. Its population was 26,617 at the 2010 census, and its area is 112.2 km2.

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.

Achada Monte Settlement in Santiago, Cape Verde

Achada Monte is a town in the northern part of the island of Santiago, Cape Verde and is part of the municipality of São Miguel. It is situated near the east coast, 8 km northwest of Calheta de São Miguel. In 2010 its population was 1,652. It is on the road connecting Praia and Tarrafal through Pedra Badejo, the EN1-ST02. The small bay Mangue de Sete Ribeiras is located east of the settlement. Ribeira Principal flows west of the village.

Tarrafal, Cape Verde Settlement in Santiago, Cape Verde

Tarrafal is a city in the northern part of the island of Santiago, Cape Verde. In 2010 its population was 6,656. It is a fishing port situated on the northwestern coast. It constitutes the seat of the Tarrafal Municipality.

Sports in Santiago, Cape Verde

The island of Santiago in Cape Verde in the middle of the Sotavento Islands is home to several teams and clubs. The major professional clubs are Sporting Praia, Boavista Praia and CD Travadores, semi-pro teams includes Académica da Praia and Desportivo da Praia. From its foundation in 1953 to 1999, the island had a single league of each sport. Since that time, the association and competition are currently divided into two zones, the north and the south and includes all sports including football, basketball, volleyball, futsal and athletics, the only island to have nearly all the sport competitions into two zones.

The Culture of the Island of Santiago, Cape Verde is the richest in the nation, with a range of customs and practices common in the islands,

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.


EN1-ST01 is a first class national road on the island of Santiago, Cape Verde. It runs from the capital Praia in the south to Tarrafal in the north, through the mountainous interior of the island. It is 61 km long. The main intersections are:

The Santiago North Regional Football Association is a football (soccer) association covering the north of the island of Santiago. It is headquartered in the city of Assomada, in the middle of the island. The winner of the championship plays in the Cape Verdean football Championships of each season. The football association is the second largest behind Boa Vista and ahead of Santo Antão South. The association are one of three championship competitions that play in more than one stadium.

Veneza Settlement in Santiago, Cape Verde

Veneza is a settlement in the northeastern part of the island of Santiago, Cape Verde. It is part of the municipality of São Miguel. It is a suburb of the city of Calheta de São Miguel, north of the city centre. It is situated on the coast, along the Praia-Pedra Badejo-Tarrafal Road (EN1-ST02). In 2010 its population was 1,375.

Ponta Verde (Santiago) Settlement in Santiago, Cape Verde

Ponta Verde is a seaside settlement in the northeastern part of the island of Santiago, Cape Verde. It is a suburb of the city of Calheta de São Miguel, part of the municipality of São Miguel. It is situated on the Praia-Pedra Badejo-Tarrafal Road (EN1-ST02), 1.5 km northwest of the centre of Calheta de São Miguel. In 2010 its population was 1,065.

São Martinho Grande Settlement in Santiago, Cape Verde

São Martinho Grande is a settlement in the southern part of the island of Santiago, Cape Verde. It is part of the municipality Ribeira Grande de Santiago. It is located 4 km east from Cidade Velha and 6.5 km west of Praia city centre. The national road EN1-ST05 passes north of the village. 1.5 km south of the village is a small bay of the Atlantic Ocean, Calheta de São Martinho. It was mentioned as "Kalyete de S. Martin" on the 1747 map by Jacques-Nicolas Bellin.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Cabo Verde, Statistical Yearbook 2015, Instituto Nacional de Estatística
  2. "Island boulders reveal ancient mega-tsunami" . Retrieved 2015-10-06.
  3. 1 2 Valor simbólico do centro histórico da Praia, Lourenço Conceição Gomes, Universidade Portucalense, 2008, p. 97
  4. "Cidade Velha, Historic Centre of Ribeira Grande - UNESCO World Heritage Centre" . Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  5. Centre historique de Praia, UNESCO
  6. Evolução histórica do Concelho de Santa Catarina (1834 – 1912), Ana Zenaida Gomes, 2005, p. 19, 29
  7. "History" (in Portuguese). Municipality of Tarrafal.
  8. Picos: a terra e a gente, Emanuel de Jesus Monteiro Vaz Fernandes, ISE, 2005, p. 27-29
  9. Conselho de Santa Cruz. Inventário dos recursos turísticos, p. 12
  10. Legislação municipal Cabo-Verdiana, p. 25, 34, 43, 71, 74
  11. Roberts, Edmund (1837). Embassy to the Eastern Courts of Cochin-China, Siam, and Muscat. New York: Harper & Brothers. p. 14.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Source: Statoids
  13. 2010 Census Summary
  14. "Boletim Estatístico de Tráfego – Ano 2017" (PDF) (in Portuguese). ASA. January 2018. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  15. Statistics Port Praia, ENAPOR, December 2017
  16. Cabo Verde Fast Ferry's website
  17. Anuário Estatístico 2016, Instituto Nacional de Estatística (in Portuguese)
  18. Decree-Law 54/2015, 1 October 2015
  19. Classification of National Roads (Maio, Santiago, Fogo, Brava), Instituto de Estradas
  20. Ilha de Santiago, Rede rodoviária, Instituto de Estradas
  21. "Ecobus suspende rota Praia/Assomada/Praia". Expresso das Ilhas . 2016-11-07.
  22. Cape Verde, World Higher Education Database
  23. 1 2 3 Estatísticas do Ambiente - 2016, Instituto Nacional de Estatística, p. 23-25
  24. Resolução nº 36/2016, Estratégia e Plano Nacional de Negócios das Áreas Protegidas
  25. IUCN Red List Search

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