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History Santiago

Santiago Island

An island of mixed fortunes. It is the largest island in the archipelago. It has the highest population with over half the population living in the capital, Praia.

The landscape varies from one area to another with some mountains, white sandy beaches, forestation and agriculture to gravelly landscapes devoid of any greenery. An African and European mix of people and culture.

Santiago previously Sao Tiago (St.James) was discovered and first settled on in 1462 by Antonio de Noli and Diogo Gomes together with a small number of other people from the Algarve, Portugal. Whilst other islands concentrated on trading in salt, Santiago which some locals still refer to as Cape Verde flourished. The island initially traded in slaves and was used to resupply ships.

It was the area of Ribeira Grande now known as Cidade Velha that became the main settlement for trading. Later, Portuguese ships stopped at Ribeira on their way to Brazil and India. At that time it was reported that the valleys had groves growing various fruits.

After a French raid in 1712 which robbed the Cidade Velha of its wealth the settlement started its demise and interest was being shown in Praia becoming the capital. The town of Assomada has recently been granted the rank of Cidade.

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