The biggest island of Cape Verde. With its capital of Praia in the southeast, Santiago has had a strong influence on the history of the archipelago. More than half of the Cape Verdeans now live on this island. With an area of 990 kilometres, Santiago is probably the most diverse island regarding its landscape. You can find fine sandy beaches, mighty mountains and dry steppe areas, as well as fertile valleys and plateaus. In a valley near Assomada, in the island’s interior, you can admire the oldest and largest tree in Cape Verde, a kapok tree that is about 500 years old and 40 metres tall.
Two volcanic mountain ranges dominate the structure of the island: The arch of the Serra Malagueta (1394 metres) runs from the west coast to the east in the north; at the centre of the island, a mountain range stretches around the island’s highest peak, the Pico d’Antónia. The two monuments of nature are surrounded by achadas (plateaus) and flat-top mountains of lava rock. The achadas in the interior of the island display rich vegetation: Acacia, euphorbias and figs are very common here since the soil is comparatively moist. In the north and south, the plateaus are much more barren and crossed by dry valleys (ribeiras).
The island has been very strongly influenced by Africa regarding its culture. After all, it was the centre for the slave trade with the neighbouring continent for many years. The classic music styles such as funana and batuco, which are present everywhere, are a potent reminder of this fact.