What is the Capital City of Cabo Verde?

Praia is the capital and largest city of Cabo Verde, an island country in the central Atlantic Ocean. Located on the southern coast of Santiago island, Praia serves as the cultural, political, and economic hub of the nation. It is a vibrant city known for its bustling markets, historic colonial architecture, and stunning coastal views. The city is divided into several neighborhoods, each with its own unique charm and character. Praia is the main port of the country and an important center for trade and commerce.

History of Praia

The history of Praia dates back to the 15th century when Portuguese explorers discovered the island of Santiago. The city itself was founded in the early 17th century as a small settlement near the coast. Over the years, Praia grew in importance, eventually surpassing Cidade Velha as the most significant city on the island. By the 18th century, Praia had become the administrative center of Cabo Verde, a status it retains to this day.

Praia’s development was closely linked to its strategic location along the Atlantic trade routes. The city’s port played a crucial role in the transatlantic slave trade, which significantly impacted its demographic and cultural landscape. Following the abolition of slavery, Praia continued to thrive as a commercial hub, attracting merchants and settlers from various parts of the world.

Modern Praia

Today, Praia is a bustling metropolis that reflects the diverse cultural heritage of Cabo Verde. The city’s population has grown steadily over the years, driven by both natural increase and migration from other islands in the archipelago. Praia is characterized by a mix of modern and traditional architecture, with new developments coexisting alongside historic buildings.

The city is also a center of education and healthcare, boasting several universities and medical facilities. Praia’s economy is diverse, with key sectors including tourism, services, manufacturing, and agriculture. The city is known for its vibrant cultural scene, hosting numerous festivals, concerts, and cultural events throughout the year.

City Facts

  • Area: Approximately 23.1 square kilometers (8.9 square miles)
  • Population: Around 159,050 (2023 estimate)
  • Time Zone: Cape Verde Time (CVT), UTC -1
  • Highest Mountain: Monte Tchota, approximately 1,031 meters (3,383 feet) on Santiago Island
  • Longest River: Ribeira Seca on Santiago Island

Major Landmarks

Plateau (Plato)

The historic center of Praia, known as Plateau, is located on a small plateau overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. This area is the heart of the city, home to many important government buildings, cultural institutions, and historical landmarks. Visitors to Plateau can explore its narrow streets, lined with colonial-era buildings that reflect the city’s rich history.

Praia de Gamboa

Praia de Gamboa is one of the most popular beaches in Praia. Known for its soft sands and clear waters, it is a favorite spot for both locals and tourists. The beach is easily accessible from the city center and offers a range of recreational activities, including swimming, sunbathing, and beach sports.

Market of Sucupira

The Market of Sucupira is the largest market in Praia and a bustling hub of activity. It offers a wide range of goods, from fresh produce to handmade crafts. The market is an excellent place to experience the local culture and interact with the friendly residents of Praia. It is also a great spot to find unique souvenirs and traditional Cape Verdean products.

Ethnographic Museum

The Ethnographic Museum in Praia provides valuable insights into the cultural and historical heritage of Cabo Verde. The museum’s exhibits include artifacts, traditional clothing, musical instruments, and historical documents. It offers a comprehensive overview of the island nation’s history, from its early settlement to contemporary times.

Monumento de Diogo Gomes

The Monumento de Diogo Gomes is a statue dedicated to the Portuguese explorer Diogo Gomes, who is credited with discovering the island of Santiago in the 15th century. The monument is located in a prominent square in Praia and serves as a reminder of the city’s colonial past and its role in the Age of Exploration.

Climate Overview

Praia experiences a semi-arid climate, characterized by a short rainy season from August to October and a longer dry season for the rest of the year. The temperatures are generally warm throughout the year, with little variation between seasons.

Month Average Temperature (°C) Precipitation (mm) Sunny Days
January 23 4 25
February 23 3 24
March 24 4 27
April 24 3 26
May 25 2 27
June 26 1 28
July 27 8 26
August 28 68 24
September 28 93 22
October 28 38 25
November 27 7 25
December 24 4 26

Historical Capitals

Before Praia became the capital, Cidade Velha (formerly Ribeira Grande) served as the capital of Cabo Verde. Cidade Velha was the first European colonial settlement in the tropics, established in 1462. It was the capital of Cabo Verde until 1770.

Cidade Velha Overview

Cidade Velha, located on the southern coast of Santiago island, is a historic city with significant cultural and historical importance. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, known for its well-preserved colonial architecture and historical landmarks.

  • Area: Approximately 2.5 square kilometers (0.97 square miles)
  • Population: Around 2,148 (2023 estimate)
  • Time Zone: Cape Verde Time (CVT), UTC -1

Major Landmarks in Cidade Velha

Fortaleza Real de São Filipe

The Fortaleza Real de São Filipe is a fortress built in the late 16th century to protect Cidade Velha from pirate attacks. The fortress offers stunning views of the surrounding area and the ocean, and it is a popular tourist attraction.

Pelourinho

Pelourinho is a stone pillar that was used as a symbol of colonial authority. It is located in the central square of Cidade Velha and serves as a reminder of the city’s historical significance and its colonial past.

São Francisco Convent

The São Francisco Convent is a historic convent dating back to the 17th century. It is one of the oldest buildings in the city and offers a glimpse into the religious history of Cabo Verde.

Rua Banana

Rua Banana is one of the oldest streets in Cidade Velha, lined with traditional houses made of stone and thatch. The street provides a sense of what life was like in the early days of the settlement and is a popular destination for tourists.

Sé Catedral

The Sé Catedral is the ruins of the first cathedral built in the tropics, dating back to the early 16th century. It stands as a testament to the city’s religious and colonial past and is an important historical landmark.

Country Facts

  • Population: Approximately 555,987 (2023 estimate)
  • Area: 4,033 square kilometers (1,557 square miles)
  • Largest City: Praia
  • Currency: Cape Verdean escudo (CVE)
  • Official Language: Portuguese
  • ISO Country Codes: CV, CPV
  • Time Zone: CVT (UTC -1)
  • Highest Point: Mount Fogo, 2,829 meters (9,281 feet)
  • Major Islands: Santiago, Santo Antão, São Vicente, Fogo, Sal

According to CountryAAH, Cabo Verde is an archipelago of ten volcanic islands located off the northwest coast of Africa. It gained independence from Portugal in 1975. The country is known for its Creole Portuguese-African culture, which is reflected in its music, arts, and cuisine.

Other Major Cities

Mindelo

Located on the island of São Vicente, Mindelo is known for its vibrant cultural scene, lively nightlife, and annual Carnival festival. It is the second-largest city in Cabo Verde and an important port city. Mindelo has a rich cultural heritage, with numerous music venues, art galleries, and cultural institutions.

Santa Maria

Santa Maria is a popular tourist destination on the island of Sal, known for its beautiful beaches, water sports, and resorts. The city attracts visitors from all over the world looking for sun and sea. Santa Maria offers a range of recreational activities, including windsurfing, kiteboarding, and scuba diving.

Assomada

Assomada is situated in the interior of Santiago island and is known for its agricultural market and historical significance. The city is a growing urban center with a rich cultural heritage. Assomada is home to several historical sites, including the Tarrafal Concentration Camp Memorial, which commemorates the victims of the former colonial prison.

Espargos

Espargos is the administrative capital of the island of Sal and a key transportation hub. The city is home to Amílcar Cabral International Airport, the main international gateway to Cabo Verde. Espargos is a center of commerce and industry on the island, with several businesses and industrial facilities.

Climate Table for Cabo Verde

Month Average Temperature (°C) Precipitation (mm) Sunny Days
January 23 4 25
February 23 3 24
March 24 4 27
April 24 3 26
May 25 2 27
June 26 1 28
July 27 8 26
August 28 68 24
September 28 93 22
October 28 38 25
November 27 7 25
December 24 4 26

 

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