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Mountain ranges of Santiago, Cape Verde

Mountain ranges of Santiago, Cape Verde

Many people who visit Cape Verde stay on the islands of Sal or Boa Vista. From this, many people have the impression that Cape Verde is only flat and covered in sand – desert islands in other words. However, many of the island have majestic mountain ranges. Exploring further afield to islands such as Santiago, Santo Antão, São Nicolau and Brava will prove that there is far more to this small country than sand! This picture was taken on the island of Santiago.

farming irrigation

Farming improvements for women on Santiago Island

At a time when much of Europe is in the middle of a heatwave/draught it is particularly good to hear that some farmers in Cape Verde have had their lives improved by the installation of a water irrigation system. Money from the African Development Bank has paid for this installation on the island of Santiago. It means that the farmers that have benefitted from it no longer have to hike for up to 20km in order to get water for farming and for daily use.

Santiago is the largest island in Cape Verde and it is an important centre for agriculture. Farming relies on water for its survival, but in country where there is little rain that has always proved problematic. A large number of farmers are women, so this is making life considerably improved for these hard working ladies. One lady farmer has reportedly been able to increase her production and can now send her son to university.

The Picos and Engenhos Watershed Management project will help to secure the future for farming on Santiago. It has already increased the yield of the 17 farming groups that has brought almost 1,000 women farmers together. The programme has seen wells, reservoirs and irrigation systems constructed over the course of 7 years. Currently Cape Verde has to import up to 75% of its food. It is anticipated that this improvement in agricultural production will reduce that figure.

praia casino

Construction underway on Praia casino

Work is now in progress on the new tourist resort and casino being built in Praia on the island of Santiago. The first stage is to build a new causeway out to the island on which the complex in being constructed. The new causeway can be seen under construction in this picture. The finished project will be a 152,700m² complex including accommodation, casino, retail, restaurants, convention centre, museum and marina. The estimated cost is €250m. The project is seen as part of the Cape Verde government’s aim to increase tourism to this island state. The development is being undertaken by Macau Legend Development. The first casino to be opened in Cape Verde was in Santa Maria on the island of Sal.

santiago praia market stall

Market stall in Praia, Santiago

The markets in Cape Verde are colourful places. They normally have a good selection of fruit and vegetables, some of which are relatively unknown to many European visitors. The large market in Plato, the main shopping area in the centre of Praia, where this was taken, is a lively place and well worth a visit. The market stall holders are usually happy, jolly people who will be very keen to get your custom.

capital city Praia

Capital City of Cape Verde – Praia

The Praia is the capital city of Cape Verde and is located on the southern end of the island of Santiago. The main shopping area is on a raised outcrop in the centre of the city which is known as Plateau. Plateau is the main shopping area. Here there is a pleasant tree lined pedestrian street, with cafes and restaurants. Praia is gradually being smartened up now has a pleasant town centre shopping area. There is also a seafront with more restaurants and bars. The city is also home to a port and an international airport.

new praia airport building

Smart new Praia airport in Cape Verde

The extension and refurbishment of the Nelson Mandela International Airport in Praia is now well underway. A smart modern building is emerging from the building site, with a large new check-in hall, travelator and much improved taxi pick up area. If you remember the old waiting area under the tent, you will realise that improvement was necessary. Although not completely finished yet, it is already a vast improvement. Further work includes expansion of the freight terminal and a new fire station.

santiago market

Colourful market on Santiago island

You will find a fruit and vegetable market in many towns in Cape Verde. They are colourful places and this one on the island of Santiago is no exception. The various sellers will actively try to persuade you to buy their produce. Even if you are staying in a hotel, they are worth a visit. The availability of fruit and vegetables can be variable, especially on some of the smaller islands.