General Information

Is the capital and largest city of Cape Verde, an island nation in the Atlantic Ocean west of Senegal. It lies on the southern coast of Santiago island in the Sotavento Islands group. It is the island's ferry port and is home to one of the nation’s four international airports. The city centre is known as Platô due to its location on a small plateau.

Praia is Cabo Verde's largest city, a commercial centre, and a port that ships coffee, sugar cane, and tropical fruits. Praia also has a fishing industry and there are resort beaches nearby. It is the seat of the Praia municipality.

Geographically, Praia may be described as a set of plateaus and their surrounding valleys. These plateaus generally have the name achada (Achada de Santo António, Achada de São Filipe, Achada Eugénio Lima, Achada Grande, Achadinha, etc. — achada being a Portuguese word to designate a volcanic plateau), but the central one is colloquially called Plateau. The urban settlement is made mostly on top of these plateaus and along the valleys. The islet of Santa Maria is in front of the beach bearing the same name (today more known as Gamboa).For a long time, only the Plateau was considered to be the city, being the other neighbourhoods relegated to the condition of peripheral suburbs.

Only after independence did the Plateau merge with the other neighbourhoods to constitute what is now considered the City of Praia. The whole city was, at the time, equipped with adequate infrastructure. Urbanization begun immediately after independence and sought to expand north.

The Plateau is still attracting most of the daily traffic within the city because it is still considered the economic and administrative center of the city. In spite of de-centralization attempts, the population continues to consider the neighbourhoods peripherals to the Plateau, as either "bedroom communities" or industrial zones.

Landmarks in the colonial city center include Albuquerque Square (named after the colonial governor of the mid 19th century, Caetano Alexandre de Almeida e Albuquerque), the old city hall built in the 1920s, the Presidential Palace, which was constructed in the end of the 19th century to house the Portuguese governor and the Monumento de Diogo Gomes, named after the Portuguese navigator who discovered the island of Santiago in 1460.

There is the Museu Etnográfico (Ethnographic Museum), which was founded in 1997. Some of the oldest buildings in Praia are Jaime Mota Barracks (Quartel Jaime Mota) dating from 1826.