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Santiago (Portuguese for “Saint James”), or Santiagu in Cape Verdean Creole, is the largest island of Cape Verdemarker, its most important agricultural centre and home to half the nation’s population. At the time of Darwin's voyage it was called St. Jago.

Santiago is located between the islands of Maiomarker (40 km west) and Fogomarker (50 km east) and is one of the Sotaventomarker. It was the first of the islands to be settled, the town of Cidade Velhamarker being founded as Riberia Grande in 1462. It is also home to the nation's capital city of Praiamarker and to one of the islands’ four international airports, Praia International Airportmarker, 3 km from the capital (IATA airport code: RAI, Praia).


Santiago is the largest island of Cape Verde, with an area of 991 km². The island is mountainous, although slightly flatter in the southeast. The wetter climate of the interior and the eastern coast contrasts with the dryer one in the south/southwest coast. Praiamarker, located in the southeast coast, is the largest city of the island, and also the largest city and capital of the country. Other towns on the island include Cidade Velha, 15 km west of Praia, Cape Verde's first capital; Assomadamarker, 60 km north and Tarrafalmarker in the northern part of the island 75 km from the capital.



Cidade Velha.

The island was discovered by António da Noli in around 1460 who built a garrison in Cidade Velhamarker which was then known as Ribeira Grande. Transcontinental slavery made Cidade Velha the second richest city in the Portuguese realm. Portugalmarker was unable to protect its colonies because the English, Dutch, French and Spanish took over the slave trade and the island was later raided by pirates. In 1712, the capital no longer served Cidade Velha which was attacked by pirates and was moved to the Praia plateau. The island population were 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 several times hosted conferences on Creole culture.


Santiago has always been the most populous island in Cape Verde. The island population has doubled since the independence of Cape Verde in 1975. Other towns on the island include Assomadamarker and Tarrafalmarker.


The main industries are agriculture, tourism, fishing and others, and leastly manufacturing. Main agricultural products are corn, sugar cane, banana, coffee and mangoes.

Since the independence of Cape Verde, infrastructure has improved, especially schools, ports, airports, roads, etc.

Sporting teams


External links

Personalities:José Maria Neves, Prime Minister

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