Boa Vista, Cape Verde

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Boa Vista
Native name: Bubista
Nickname: Ilha das dunas (island of the dunes)
Bela-vista-net-Boa Vista-map.jpg
Locator maps of Boa Vista, Cape Verde.png
Location Atlantic Ocean
Coordinates 16°6′11.93″N 22°48′12.59″W / 16.1033139°N 22.8034972°W / 16.1033139; -22.8034972
Archipelago Cape Verde
Total islands 10
Area 620 km2 (240 sq mi)
Length 31 km (19.3 mi)
Width 29 km (18 mi)
Highest elevation 387 m (1,270 ft)
Highest point Monte Estância
Concelhos (Municipalities) Boa Vista
Largest settlement Sal Rei
Population 8554 (2010)
Pop. density 13.8 /km2 (35.7 /sq mi)
Additional information
Official website

Boa Vista (Portuguese meaning “good view”), also written as Boavista, is a desert-like island that belongs to the Cape Verde Islands. The archipelago contains 10 different islands, in total, of which Boa Vista is the third largest.

The island of Boa Vista is located the closest to the African continent, as it’s the easternmost island of all. The distance between Boa Vista and Senegal is only 450 km.

Boa Vista, which has its capital, Sal Rei, located on the north-western part of the island, is mainly known for the numerous presence of turtles, traditional music and ultramarathon. People also associate Boa Vista with its endless beautiful beaches and sand hills. Boa Vista has an established value in the touristic sector because of the airport in Rabil and the numerous accommodation options that the island offers for its tourists.


The relatively flat plain landscape of the middle of Boa Vista with Monte Santo António, with a rocky landscape (also known as a hamada) that resembles parts of the Sahara Desert which is the nearest larger desert on the African mainland (and not often, the northern basin of Planet Mars as the ground colour is the same, it has a rocky landscape but it is predominantly similar to that of Boa Vista)

Places on the island[edit]

Boa Vista is divided into the 13 sections, for statistical purposes:


Boa Vista is the third largest island after Santo Antao and Santiago, with an area of 620 square kilometres. It is situated south of Sal and north of the Island of Maio. The island is overall (not relatively) flat, but also has numerous mountains like Santo António (Saint Anthony), Rocha Estância, Morro de Areia (Sandy Mound), Monte Negro (Black Mound), Monte Caçador, Pico Forcado and Monte Vigia and Monte Estância as the highest point of the island (1,270 feet), as well as upper areas and highlands in the east, the southeast, the west and the northwesternmost area. The middle portion as well as the Sal Rei and Rabil areas is a plain and its highest point is around 90 m, it is the area surrounded by higher elevations to the east and west, parts has buches the area is barren and has a rocky landscape (hamada) that resembles parts of the Sahara Desert or to a lesser extent, the large basin of the north of planet Mars as some of its rocks are larger, but has the same soil color in parts, particularly red.

Besides mountains, Boa Vista is also famous for its large, wonderful beaches like Atalanta, Cabral, Chave, Ervatão, Gatas, Santa Mónica and Varandinha. Promontories include Ponta do Sol, the westernmost point of the island named Varandinha, Derrubado and Curral Velho. Also streams are dominant with the largest being Ribeira do Rabil which is also the nation's longest.

Boa Vista is also notable for its desert and its dune field, the largest in Cape Verde and one of the westernmost in the whole of Africa. The dunes are in the SSW direction with winds blowing from the north to the south, dunes are at Deserto de Viana, parts of Rabil, it surrounds Sal Rei, Praia de Chave, between Morro de Areia and Povoação Velha and Praia de Santa Mónica. Part of these within Sal Rei and Praia de Chave had been plowed or mined with the growing population.

The island of Boa Vista is one out of the five Cape Verde Islands, which has surrounding islets like Ilhéu de Sal Rei (west), Ilhéu de Curral Velho (south), Ilhéu do Baluarte (east) where the easternmost point in the nation is.


Diogo Gomes, a Portuguese explorer, discovered the Cape Verde Islands in 1456 when they were still uninhabited. The name Boa Vista, which means “beautiful view", was given by this man as it was the first thing that came in his mind when seeing this archipelago. 6 Years after the discovery of the archipelago, in 1462, the Portuguese started building the first town, Riberira, on the island of Santiago. In 1587, the Cape Verde Islands became an official Portuguese colony and ever since then, they used the archipelago as a lay-over for slave traffic between the African continent and America up until 1878 when slavery was abolished in the Portuguese Empire.

Karamboa Hotel in the west of Rabil by Praia da Chave, one of the resorts on the island that recently popped up in the mid-2000s

Started in 1620 to its abolishment in 1878, slaves have been employed in salt mines, where they processed the salt in mountainous areas, in order to make sure that pirates couldn’t attack in such areas. The salt trade made a fast-economic growth possible for the island, making Cape Verde seem a center of the trade.

Ever since, it only goes upwards with the archipelago. In 1975, Cape Verde has declared its independence, even though the fact that there had never been any war on the archipelago itself. In 2001 Cape Verde also positioned itself on the political map as they had their first prime minister from that year on. Since that political growth, the archipelago has started working on the level of tourism on the different island by building international airports, ports, roads, hotels.


As of the mid-19th century, the population was estimated at 4,000. Most of the population live in Sal Rei, but there are also many small towns with 10 to 100 people. Boa Vista has the smallest population of all of inhabited Cape Verde’s islands, and it is the least-dense populated in the archipelago. Since 1990, the population has grown steadily, bouncing back from a period of dryness and famine by which a lot of inhabitants immigrated. In 2010 Boa Vista's population increased to 8,554.

The population of Boa Vista consist of a mixture of different nationalities: Creole, Negroids and Caucasians. The Creoles are the biggest group of inhabitants, with no less than 70%, as a lot of Portuguese enter into a relation with the slaves of the African continent, during the colonization of Portugal, and settled in Boa Vista afterwards.

Population of Boa Vista, Cape Verde (1940—2010)
1940[1] 1950[1] 1960[1] 1970[1] 1980[1] 1990[1] 2000[2] 2010[3]
2779 2985 3263 3569 3372 3452 4209 8554


Cabo Verde has been governed by 2 different parties (both on municipal and national level): on the left side, the PAICV and on the right side the MpD. The current President is José Pinto Almeida, member of the MpD party.

The municipal meeting (in Portuguese: Assembleia Municipal) of the municipality of Boa Vista consist of 13 members. 4 of these members are delegated by the PAIVC, 8 membre by de MpD and one member of the FV.BV. The city council (câmara) consist of 5 MpD-members.

Every 4 years on the same day, elections for the municipal meeting and the city council take place.


Before, the inhabitants of Boa Vista survived of salt collection and date farming. Nowadays they still earn money from date farming but also from tourism. A lot of people do work in this touristic sector as a taxi driver, an employee in one of the hotel chains or as a salesman of souvenirs in Sal Rei. The income of tourism has risen rapidly since the coming of the international airport in 2007.


At this moment, there are different All-inclusive hotels on the island. The well-known RIU-chain has 2 hotels on the island: RIU Touareg in the South of the island and RIU Karamboa in the west. Besides that, there are also some smaller hotels and chains like Iberostar, Royal Decammeron, Hotel Estoril, Hotel Migrante, Luca Calema. Not only hotel chains but also guesthouses and Holiday Apartments are settled on the island.



About 5 km east of Sal Rei is Aristides Pereira International Airport of Boa Vista: lata: BVC, ICAO: GVBA.


The red pick-ups are the official taxi’s but everyone can offer a taxi service. You can pay with both escudos and euros.

National highways[edit]

The island has 64 km of highways[4], the single first class highway connects Sal Rei and Rabil.


Boa Vista is not as abundant in flora as to Santiago and westward and São Nicolau westward, even though forested areas are gaining even east of Sal Rei. Flora is abundant underwater even seagrass. Fauna is also dominant which has birds and lizards, one native to is the Boa Vista wall gecko (Tarentola boavistensis). The largest abundant of fauna are in the sea surrounding the island including fishes, corals, sponges and mollusks. Its nearby waters are home to numerous endemic mollusk species, notably cone snails (e.g. Conus boavistensis and Conus salreiensis) and other mollusk species such as Plesiocystiscus bubistae. Most of them were recently founded especially in expeditions from the 1980s to the start of the 2010s.


Sporting teams[edit]

Notable residents[edit]


Further reading[edit]

  • "Boa Vista"» (Armand d'Avezac et al., L'Univers. Îles de l'Afrique (The Universe, Islands of Africa), Firmin Didot frères, Paris, 1848, p. 211-212)
  • Michel Lesourd, "Boa Vista", Le Cap-Vert,, Jaguar, Paris, 2006, p. 158-163 ISBN 978-2-86950-408-0
  • Richard A. Lobban Jr et Paul Khalil Saucier, "Boa Vista", Historical dictionary of the Republic of Cape Verde, Scarecrow Press, Lanham, Maryland ; Toronto ; Plymouth, 2007, p. 41 ISBN 978-0-8108-4906-8
  • António Germano Lima, Boavista, ilha da Morna e do Landú, Instituto Superior de Educação, Praia, 2002, 339 pages (in Portuguese)
  • Sabrina Requedaz et Laurent Delucchi, "Boa Vista, l'île des dunes" ('"Boa Vista, the Island of Dunes"), Cap-Vert (Cape Verde), Olizane, Geneva, 2011 (6th ed.), p. 173-197 ISBN 978-2-88086-394-4

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 16°6′11.93″N 22°48′12.59″W / 16.1033139°N 22.8034972°W / 16.1033139; -22.8034972