SAO TIAGO - (Often spoken as Santiago)
Santiago (Portuguese for "Saint James"), or Santiagu in Cape Verdean Creole, 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 km west) and Fogo (50 km 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 Riberia Grande in 1462. It is also home to the nation's capital city of Praia and to one of the islands' two international airports, Francisco Mendes, 2 km from the capital (IATA airport code: RAI, Praia). The island population has doubled since the independence of Cape Verde in 1975. Other towns on the island include Assomada and Tarrafal. The main industries are agriculture, tourism, fishing and others, and leastly manufacturing. Main agricultural products are corn, sugar cane, banana, coffee and mangoes.
Other parts of the island include Cidade Velha, 15 km west of Praia, Cape Verde's first capital, others include Assomada, 60 km north and Tarrafal in the northern part of the island 75 km from the capital.
The Sao Tiago island was discovered by António da Noli in around 1460 who built a garrison in Cidade Velha which was then known as Ribeira Grande. Transcontinental slavery made Cidade Velha the second richest city in the Portuguese realm. Portugal 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 Amilcar 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. Since the independence of Cape Verde, infrastructure has improved, especially schools, ports, airports, roads, etc. Many people have settled on this island.
The most african in culture, the island of Santiago is the largest of the Cape verde islands. It was the first island to be populated and has the biggest population of any of the islands. The island has two large mountain chains in it's interior the highest point of which is 1400m at Pico d'Antonia. It is a beautiful island with quaint villages and lively market places. The capital of Santiago is Praia and this boasts a lively nightlife. A new airport is under construction at Praia and this should lead to greater access to the island. The capital city and main port of Santiago is Praia.
The coastline is rocky with small white-sandy beaches. The good beaches are at Sao Francisco, Tarrafal and Baixo. The largest island in the archipelago, boasting the best scenery. Its residents are more African in culture, which is reflected in its musical traditions, markets and the many festivals held during the year. Two towering mountain chains characterise the interior, while the coastline sports small sandy palm-fringed coves. Sao Tiago is the site of Cape Verde's capital city, Praia, and the picturesque fishing town of Tarrafal. Praia has an interesting marine archaeology museum dedicated to documenting the various shipwrecks that have occurred around the islands. The historic old port city, Cidade Velha, was a major slave-trading post and retains cobbled lanes and stone buildings in the shadow of its old 15th-century fortress and Cathedral.
Cidade Velha has an interesting past as it used to be a place to trade in slaves. It has enormous character as a town and boasts the remains of a fortress and cathedral. The National Maritime Museum Cabo Verde in Praia deserves a look as it exhibits treasure from shipwrecks around the islands. You should also take the Island Tour through the island to a place called Vila do Tarrafal. The market town of Assomada is also woth a visit. The tour concludes with a trip along the coast. This is a great way to see the beauty of the island.