Praia

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Praia
Praia Cabo Verde.jpg
Official seal of {{{official_name}}}
Seal
Praia is located in Cape Verde
Praia
Coordinates: 14°55′05″N 23°30′32″W / 14.918°N 23.509°W / 14.918; -23.509Coordinates: 14°55′05″N 23°30′32″W / 14.918°N 23.509°W / 14.918; -23.509
Country Cape Verde
Island Santiago
Municipality Praia
Civil parish Nossa Senhora da Graça
Population (2010)[1]
 • Total 130,271

Praia (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈpɾajɐ], meaning "beach", in both Portuguese and Cape Verdean Creole), 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.

History[edit]

A 1772 map including Praia.

The town of Praia de Santa Maria appeared in 1615 when it took the place of the previous settlement on the plateau, which was originally favored because the nearby port (Santa Maria beach) offered good conditions for ships. Initially used as a clandestine harbor (in order to avoid customs fees at the then capital Ribeira Grande), the settlement gradually acquired the characteristics of a town after much of the population from Ribeira Grande fled there during its decline in the midst of frequent pirate attacks. The official transfer of capital status from Ribeira Grande to Praia took place in 1770.

A depiction of Praia during the Battle of Porto Praya.

In the history of Cabo Verde there have been successive proposals for transferring the capital elsewhere, the most recent being Mindelo in the late 19th century. However, the successive Portuguese administrations never showed an interest (economical or political?) in such proposals. Through an official decree in 1858, when its status was changed from town to city, Praia secured its status as the capital of Cabo Verde, concentrating political, religious and economic roles.

During the Portuguese administration, only the central plateau was considered to be the city proper and thus the principal zone of urbanization and concentration of municipal services. It was only after independence (July 1975) that the surrounding neighborhoods generally became accepted as part of the city proper. After independence, the city suffered a demographic boom, and after 33 years its population has quadrupled, receiving migrating movements from all the islands. As a result, half of the entire population of Cabo Verde currently resides in Santiago; a fourth in the Municipality of Praia; and a fifth in the City of Praia alone.

Geography[edit]

An aerial view of Praia

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 (in Portuguese itself). 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 neighborhoods relegated to the condition of peripheral suburbs, in spite of always having a close relationship with the Plateau (people movements, goods and services exchanges, etc.). This is why only the Plateau previously had relatively well-developed urbanization with its own infra-structures. The remaining neighborhoods developed in a more organic, chaotic way.

A view of Praia's plateaus.

Only after independence did the Plateau merge with the other neighborhoods 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 neighborhoods peripherals to the Plateau, as either "bedroom communities" or industrial zones.

This was the first stop the HMS Beagle with Charles Darwin.[citation needed] When Edmund Roberts visited Praia in 1832, he noted a "good supply" of fish including mullet and red grouper. He also noted date palms being plentiful in the area.[2]

Climate[edit]

Praia features a mild desert climate (Köppen: BWh) with a short wet season and a lengthy, very pronounced dry season. In fact, outside of the months of August, September and October, little precipitation falls on Praia. The city on average sees about 260 millimetres (10 in) of rain per year. Despite the fact that it has an arid climate, Praia seldom gets very hot or very cold, due to its oceanside location on Santiago Island. Temperatures are warm and constant with an average high temperature of 27 °C (81 °F) and an average low temperature of 23 °C (73 °F).

Climate data for Praia
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 32.2
(90)
32.2
(90)
32.8
(91)
33.9
(93)
37.2
(99)
35
(95)
32.8
(91)
32.8
(91)
36.1
(97)
35
(95)
32.2
(90)
30.6
(87.1)
37.2
(99)
Average high °C (°F) 25
(77)
25
(77)
25.6
(78.1)
26.1
(79)
27.2
(81)
27.8
(82)
28.3
(82.9)
28.9
(84)
28.9
(84)
29.4
(84.9)
27.8
(82)
26.1
(79)
27.2
(81)
Daily mean °C (°F) 22.5
(72.5)
22.2
(72)
22.8
(73)
23.3
(73.9)
24.2
(75.6)
24.5
(76.1)
26.1
(79)
26.7
(80.1)
27
(81)
26.9
(80.4)
25.6
(78.1)
23.9
(75)
24.6
(76.3)
Average low °C (°F) 20
(68)
19.4
(66.9)
20
(68)
20.6
(69.1)
21.1
(70)
21.1
(70)
23.9
(75)
24.4
(75.9)
25
(77)
24.4
(75.9)
23.3
(73.9)
21.7
(71.1)
22.1
(71.8)
Record low °C (°F) 17.2
(63)
13.3
(55.9)
16.7
(62.1)
17.2
(63)
16.1
(61)
18.9
(66)
18.9
(66)
20
(68)
21.1
(70)
20
(68)
20
(68)
17.8
(64)
13.3
(55.9)
Rainfall mm (inches) 2.5
(0.098)
1.3
(0.051)
1
(0.04)
2.3
(0.091)
0
(0)
1
(0.04)
13.2
(0.52)
99.3
(3.909)
29
(1.14)
47.5
(1.87)
7.9
(0.311)
4.6
(0.181)
209.6
(8.252)
Avg. rainy days (≥ 0.1 mm) 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 8 7 3 1 1 22
Mean monthly sunshine hours 217 226 279 300 310 275 219 188 219 248 244 215 2,920
Source #1: Sistema de Clasificación Bioclimática Mundial[3]
Source #2: BBC Weather [4]

Demographics[edit]

Nossa Senhora da Graça Church - Cabo Verde is primarily Catholic.

As of the mid-19th century, the population was estimated at 1,500 to 2,000. When Edmund Roberts visited in 1832, he noted a population of black people in Praia totaling about "nineteen twentieths" of the population.[2]

Nowadays, Praia is truly a melting pot as every Cabo Verde Island is represented here by way of their natives, and many different nationalities are represented here as well.

The city's population is approximately 131,832 in December 2013, growing from 94,161 in 2000.

Population of the city of Praia (1990–2013)[5]
1990 2000 2005 2013
61644 94161 111500 131832

Economy[edit]

Cabo Verde's Presidential Palace.

The economy of Praia is dependent above all on the services sector, with some industry as well.[citation needed]

Some industries exist, located on the coast (fishing) or in outlying neighborhoods (rendering of agricultural products, materials for civil construction, etc.)[citation needed]

However, the principal economic activities of Praia belong to the tertiary sector. Beyond activities related to administration and governance (local and national), there are extensive commerce, services (health care, education, tourism, restaurants and hotels, public functions, etc.), and other activities of a liberal character. Being the nation´s capital as well as the economic hub, Praia is the most economically viable city in the Cabo Verde archipelago. Nevertheless, about one third (1/3) of the city's population lives below the poverty line today (2014). The gross metropolitan product for the city is about half of the country's GDP, translating into USD 8,344 per capita income.

TACV Cabo Verde, the national airline of Cabo Verde, has its headquarters in Praia.[6]

Attractions and amenities[edit]

Cabo Verde's National Historical Archives.

Landmarks in the colonial city center include Albuquerque Square, 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.

Infrastructure[edit]

Cape Verde's Supreme Tribunal.

19th century[edit]

As of the mid-19th century, two roads accessed Praia, one from the east and one from the west, both traveling uphill. During this time, there were 45 cannons outfitting the roads for security of the region and the harbor. The harbor was utilized by ships from West Africa, South America, and the East Indies. September was the low visitation time for Praia by water, due to gale force winds that frequented during that month making harbor visits unsafe.[2]

Today[edit]

The city is served by Praia International Airport and TACV Cabo Verde Airlines.

Education[edit]

The Domingos Ramos Secondary School

The city of Praia is home to the first primary school in the archipelago, originally known as the Escola Central (today known as the Escola Grande). For much time it was the only primary school in Praia. At the beginning of the 1960s, other primary schools began to be built in neighborhoods around the Plateau and in other localities on the island.

Praia was also the first site in Cabo Verde with a secondary education institution with the creation of the Liceu Nacional in 1861. However, the Portuguese authorities were not interested in implementing secondary education in Cabo Verde and the school failed as a result; secondary education became, afterwards, the role of the Seminário de Ribeira Brava on the island of São Nicolau, and later of the lyceum in Mindelo. Only in 1960 did Praia again have secondary education, first with a facility on September 12 Plaza and later in its own building. With the expansion of education in Cabo Verde in the 1990s, various buildings dedicated to education were constructed in Cabo Verde, and Praia currently has 11 secondary education schools.

For higher education, there are the Instituto Universitário de Educação, Universidade Intercontinental de Cabo Verde, Universidade de Santiago, Instituto Superior de Ciencias Juridícas e Sociais, Instituto Superior de Ciencias Económicas e Empresariais, Jean Piaget University of Cape Verde, and University of Cape Verde.

Praia's Municipal Palace, a gem of Portuguese Colonial Architecture.

Notable residents[edit]

Twin towns – Sister cities[edit]

Praia is twinned with:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "2010 Census results". Instituto Nacional de Estatística Cabo Verde (in Portuguese). 17 March 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Roberts, Edmund (1837). Embassy to the Eastern Courts of Cochin-China, Siam, and Muscat. New York: Harper & Brothers. pp. 19–20. 
  3. ^ "Cape Verde - Praia". Centro de Investigaciones Fitosociológicas. Retrieved December 2, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Average Conditions Praia, Cape Verde". BBC Weather. Retrieved December 2, 2013. 
  5. ^ Source: City Population, citing the Instituto Nacional de Estatísticas.
  6. ^ "Contact." TACV Cabo Verde. Retrieved on 23 October 2009.
  7. ^ "Geminações de Cidades e Vilas". Associação Nacional de Municípios Portugueses (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2013-07-20. 
  8. ^ "Lisboa - Geminações de Cidades e Vilas" [Lisbon - Twinning of Cities and Towns]. Associação Nacional de Municípios Portugueses [National Association of Portuguese Municipalities] (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2013-08-23. 
  9. ^ "Acordos de Geminação, de Cooperação e/ou Amizade da Cidade de Lisboa" [Lisbon - Twinning Agreements, Cooperation and Friendship]. Camara Municipal de Lisboa (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2013-08-23. 

External links[edit]