The capital of Cape Verde, Praia, on the island of Sao Tiago, is less attractive than Mindelo and its colonial houses have unfortunately not been maintained as well as they could have been. It does have, however, the old Council House, built in the 19th century, the law courts, and the Igreja Martiz church. Another attraction is the African market, which is as interesting as that of the village of Assomada.
The African influence can be felt all over the city of Praia (the market, the colours, the clothes, the music, etc.). To the west of Praia lies the small town of Cidade Veilha, which was the first city in Cape Verde. The beaches of Tarrafal and Châo Bom are very busy at the weekend since the locals come here to relax and party.
The island of Santiago is not only the most African of Cape Verde, it is the largest and most populated. The villages further inland have kept their Creole identity and the traditional Cape Verdean culture remains very strong.
Surface area : 1557.0 km2
Population : 516733 inhabitants
Beware of the strong tides when swimming, as they are a common cause of drowning.
Avoid drinking the tap water and having ice in your drinks.
The national dish is called 'cachupa': it is made of corn, bacon and chorizo and looks a bit like a stew. The food staples here are fish, chicken, pork, rice and vegetables. You can find some excellent grilled rock lobsters. Typical of the archipelago, 'grogue' is a white or brown rum served like a punch.
Unfortunately, the artisanry here is not very developed, being mainly limited to crochet items (tablecloths, place mats, bedspreads, etc.), naïve-style paintings, some batik items, straw hats, and objects made from sea shells.