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Region Summary

Introduction to Santiago

Santiago is the most African of all the islands and is also the largest in the archipelago. It was the first to be populated after its discovery by the Portuguese in 1462 and is the most densely populated today, with most of its inhabitants living in Praia, the capital of Cape Verde. The island has a spectacular mountainous interior with two large mountain chains, the highest point being Pico d’Antonia at 1392m. The coastline has numerous sandy beaches, the best being at Sao Francisco, where the Sambala Village development is being built and Tarrafal, 80 kilometers to the north. The island is a mixture of beautiful landscapes, rural villages, lively markets and palm fringed beaches, along with lively nightlife in Praia. The capital city of Praia is a small but rather sophisticated community just coming into its own. This seat of government boasts 15 foreign embassies and consulates and is an oasis of entertainment, fine dining, upscale hotels, and shopping. Praia is continuously evolving into a destination city. The new Estrela Santiago Nick Faldo golf development and Vila Jardins, to the west of the city, and Sambala Village at Sao Franciso beach are major developments in Santiago which will increase the tourist activity on the island significantly. The new international airport has opened and this will have a major impact on the island. A major new ring road from the airport to Cidade Velha has been completed, along with an excellent new road to Sao Francisco beach which will open up access to Sambala and the beach.
Located 15 km from Praia, Cidade Velha was the old port where many slaves were traded. The old town with its narrow cobbled streets is overlooked by the old Portuguese S. Filipe Fortress, built at the end of the 15th century where the views over the town and coastline are exceptional.