Praia, Cabo Verde Geography

Praia, the capital and largest city of Cabo Verde, is located on the southern coast of Santiago Island. The geography of Praia is characterized by its coastal location, arid climate, and the presence of hills and valleys, while also featuring the natural beauty of the Atlantic Ocean and the city’s iconic Cidade Velha (Old Town). In this essay, we will explore the geography of Praia, focusing on its geographical features, the Atlantic Ocean, and the unique environment that shapes the city.

Location and General Geography:

According to, Praia is situated on the southern coast of Santiago Island, which is the largest and most populous island in the Cabo Verde archipelago. Santiago Island is part of the Sotavento group of islands in Cabo Verde, which are located in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of West Africa.

Coastal Location:

The most prominent geographical feature of Praia is its coastal location along the southern shore of Santiago Island. The city is flanked by the Atlantic Ocean to the south, making it a significant port and a gateway to Cabo Verde.

Arid Climate:

Praia and Santiago Island, in general, experience an arid or desert-like climate, typical of many locations in Cabo Verde. The region has relatively low annual rainfall and is subject to high temperatures.

Geographical Features:

Praia’s geography features a combination of hills, valleys, and plains, which contribute to the city’s unique topography.

Hills and Valleys: The city and its surroundings are characterized by a series of hills and valleys. These geographical features add to the city’s visual appeal and create a diverse urban landscape.

Serra da Malagueta: The Serra da Malagueta mountain range is located to the north of Praia and is one of the significant geographical landmarks in the region. These mountains contribute to the diverse geography and offer opportunities for hiking and nature exploration.

Atlantic Ocean:

The geography of Praia is significantly influenced by its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, which shapes the city’s culture, economy, and environment.

Port City: Praia serves as an essential port and a key gateway for maritime trade and transportation in Cabo Verde. The port facilities are vital for the import and export of goods.

Beaches: The city’s coastal location provides opportunities for recreation and tourism. Praia features several beaches where residents and visitors can enjoy the Atlantic Ocean’s waters.

Fisheries: The ocean also supports local fisheries, which are essential for the city’s economy and food supply. Fish and seafood are a significant part of the local diet.

Cidade Velha (Old Town):

Praia is in close proximity to Cidade Velha, a UNESCO World Heritage site, located about 10 kilometers (6 miles) to the west. Cidade Velha is one of the most historically significant locations in Cabo Verde, with unique geography and cultural heritage.

Historical Significance: Cidade Velha was the first European settlement in the tropics and served as a major hub for trade and exploration during the Age of Discovery. Its historic landmarks and fortifications are set against a backdrop of rolling hills.

Natural Beauty: The town is also known for its natural beauty, with stunning ocean views and lush greenery. The geography of Cidade Velha combines the historical and the scenic, making it a popular destination for tourists.


Praia experiences a desert climate influenced by its geographic location. The city has a distinct wet and dry season.

Wet Season: The wet season in Praia typically runs from July to October, with the heaviest rainfall occurring in August and September. During this period, the city experiences sporadic but heavy rainfall, which can lead to temporary flooding.

Dry Season: The dry season, from November to June, is characterized by minimal rainfall and high temperatures. This period is popular for tourism, as the weather is consistently sunny and warm.

The arid climate, shaped by Praia’s coastal geography, influences the local way of life, including agriculture, water supply, and seasonal festivities.

Environmental Challenges:

Praia and Cabo Verde face several environmental challenges, including those related to water scarcity, coastal erosion, and sustainable development.

Water Scarcity: Water scarcity is a significant challenge in Praia, given the arid climate and limited freshwater resources. The city relies on desalination and imported water to meet its water needs.

Coastal Erosion: The city’s coastal location makes it vulnerable to coastal erosion, which can threaten infrastructure and settlements. Efforts are underway to address and mitigate this challenge.

Sustainable Development: Balancing urban development with environmental preservation is an ongoing challenge. As the capital of Cabo Verde, Praia is experiencing growth and modernization, which requires careful planning to ensure sustainable development.


Praia, the capital of Cabo Verde, offers a unique coastal geography characterized by its arid climate, hills, valleys, and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Understanding the geography of Praia is essential for appreciating the city’s cultural significance, the challenges related to water scarcity and coastal erosion, and the opportunities for recreation and tourism in this coastal city. Praia’s commitment to preserving its cultural heritage and embracing sustainable development reflects its dedication to being a vibrant and historically rich capital on the southern coast of Santiago Island.