Santiago (Cape Verde)

Travel Guide Africa Cape Verde Santiago

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Introduction

Santiago is the largest island of Cape Verde, its most important agricultural centre and home to half the nation’s population. Santiago is located between the islands of Maio (40 kilometres west) and Fogo (50 kilometres east) and is one of the Sotavento. It was the first of the islands to be settled, the town of Cidade Velha being founded as Ribeira Grande in 1462. It is also home to the nation's capital city of Praia and to one of the islands’ four international airports, Praia International Airport, 3 kilometres from the capital (IATA airport code: RAI, Praia).

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Geography

Santiago is the largest island of Cape Verde, with an area of 991 square kilometres. The island is mountainous, although slightly flatter in the southeast. In the area of Cidade Velha and west of Salineiro consists of a plateau that has very few hills and a lot of ravines, several of them deep.

The tallest summit is Pico da Antónia which is located west of Picos, the second is Serra da Malagueta which is halfway between Assomada and Tarrafal. Other mountain ranges include Órgãos which dominate a part of the municipality including north of João Teves, Monte Vacas which dominate between Cidade Velha and São Domingos and Serra da Malagueta which dominates the north of the island. Pico da António and Serra Malagueta are its National Parks located on the island, they were created in 2003. The island are one of five that have one or more islands, one is Ilhéu de Santa Maria which is near Praia and the others are some rocky islets located near Ponta Moreia.

The length of the shoreline is around 120 kilometres long making it the longest in the archipelago and much of it are surrounded by short and tall cliffs, many of the taller ones are on the west side. Many of the cliffs were formed from the massive Fogo eruption of 73,000 years ago in the west and most probably in other parts of the island including smaller ones in the east, it is recorded in its boulders that are seen today. The surrounding bays include Baía de Mosquito which is in the southwest and has one of the tallest cliffs on any island in the North Atlantic, Praia Harbor near Praia in the southeast and Tarrafal Bay to the northwest. The longest river is the Poilão Stream which flows in the southern interior other streams include Ribeira Grande de Santiago, Ribeira Grande do Norte de Santiago which empties in Chão Bom. The remainder of the island especially in the east has several small bays, the notable ones are the one in Calheta de São Miguel, the one near Pedra Badejo and Praia Formosa.

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Cities

  • Praia - capital of Cape Verde.

Other towns on the island include Cidade Velha, 15 kilometres west of Praia, Cape Verde's first capital; Assomada, 60 kilometres north and Tarrafal in the northern part of the island 75 kilometres from the capital. The island has the most number of villages and settlements in Cape Verde.

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Events and Festivals

Cape Verde Carnival

February sees the most colorful and spectacular festival of the island’s calendar and is one of the best times of the year to visit Cape Verde. No matter where you go, it is virtually impossible to escape the party and endless music in full swing. The most elaborate and hedonistic celebrations take place on the streets of Praia and Mindelo where everyone pulls out their fancy costumes and puts away their inhibitions. The dancing, drinking and debauchery goes on for days, with music, fireworks and huge parades.

Kriol Jazz Festival

Started in 2009, the Kriol Jazz Festival is held in the capital of Praia every April and attracts artists from around Cape Verde and abroad. The event promotes Cape Verde’s rich musical heritage, which hails from Africa, the Caribbean and Europe. Performances are held at locations around the city and get the community moving to the music all weekend long.

Cape Verde Independence Day

A raucous event which is celebrated on every island, Independence Day festivities are held July 5, commemorating the day the country gained its freedom from Portugal. Colorful celebrations complete with serious drinking the local favorite grogue and feasting are the norm and the fun carries through into the evening. It’s a great time to visit and experience the pride and light-heartedness of the locals.

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Weather

Santiago has a very pleasant climate, with warm and sunny conditions year round. It is mostly dry throughout the year as well, except for the short August to October 'rainy' season. The wetter climate of the interior and the eastern coast contrasts with the drier one in the south/southwest coast.

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Getting There

By Plane

TACV Cabo Verde Airlines is the national airline of Cape Verde and is based at Amílcar Cabral International Airport (SID) at the island of Sal and at Praia International Airport (RAI) near the capital Praia on Santiago Island. Connections to Banjul, Boston, Dakar, Fortaleza, Lisbon and London are served from Praia. From Sal, there are considerably more cities in Europe served with several dozens of airlines. Destinations include London, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Paris, Amsterdam, Milan, Rome and Helsinki.

By Boat

The port has some connections by boat to other islands.

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Getting Around

Several towns and cities are served with aluguer buses common throughout Cape Verde. Praia has Cape Verde's only mass transit system. The system are run by Maura Company, newer ones are run by Sol Atlântico, .

Taxis are common in Praia and Assomada. Taxis with a base in Praia are painted beige, while taxis with a base in Assomada are painted white.

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This is version 1. Last edited at 12:40 on Aug 7, 17 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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