Sal, Cape Verde

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Native name: Dja d’ Sal’
Location Atlantic Ocean
Coordinates 16°43′N 22°56′W / 16.717°N 22.933°W / 16.717; -22.933
Area 216 km2 (83 sq mi)
Length 35 km (21.7 mi)
Width 12 km (7.5 mi)
Highest elevation 406 m (1,332 ft)
Highest point Monte Vermelho
Cape Verde
Concelhos (Municipalities) Sal
Largest settlement Santa Maria, Cape Verde
Population 35000
Pop. density 165 /km2 (427 /sq mi)

Sal (Portuguese for “salt” — from the mines at Pedra de Lume) is an island in Cape Verde. It belongs to the northern group of islands, called Barlavento. The island is composed by a single administrative division, the Sal municipality. The island is home to Amílcar Cabral International Airport, the main airport of Cape Verde.


The island is 35 km long by 12 km wide. It is one of the three sandy eastern islands (Sal, Boa Vista and Maio) of the archipelago, with white sandy beaches and fairly flat. The highest elevation of 408 m is at Monte Grande. Serra Negra has a height of 92 m.


Sal Island has on average 350 days of sunshine a year. Winds mainly blow from the northeast. However,some days do also have clouds, but they tend to be scattered and seldom bring rain. The 'rainy season' is from July to mid-October, although rainfall is still low.


The island was discovered on December 3, 1460 and named Llana until salt deposits were found. Sal is the geologically oldest island in Cape Verde, formed 50 million years ago during the eruption of a volcano which is now inactive.


Sal’s main town, Cidade dos Espargos, is home to one of the nation’s international airports and has around 20,000 inhabitants. Its population grew around salt collection and later shifted to fishing, but is now based on tourism (amounting to 50% of the archipelago’s tourism) at the beach resort of Santa Maria.

Its airport, Amílcar Cabral International Airport, was used as a refuelling base by South African Airways on its Johannesburg to London routes. This was necessitated by the refusal of Black African states to the North to grant overflying permission and direct routing to and from Europe. Later, flights to and from New York and Atlanta also refuelled there, and the island was a crew-change station. SAA established the long runways needed by the fully fueled Boeing 707s on their take-offs in the high temperatures. On July 1, 2006, SAA operated its final flight to Sal due to the ending of its flights to Atlanta.

Saline marshes can be found in the Pedra de Lume crater and north of Santa Maria.


The major roads on the island are:

  • Santa Maria - Espargos Road (paved)
  • Palmeira - Espargos Road (paved)
  • Pedra de Lume - Espargos Road (paved)
  • Espargos - Reguinho Fiúra Road (unpaved)


There are six inhabited centers:

  • Pedra de Lume, on the eastern coast, is the most ancient, and the home of the first salt workers. Today it is only a small village with few inhabitants.
  • Palmeira is a fishing village, built around a port situated on the opposite coast of the island. It is also a small village but is growing. Palmeira is also home to the island of Sal's port.
  • Espargos (pop: 20,173 (2010)[1]) for the town, 1,000 including Hortelã and Preguiça) is the main urban center and is situated between Pedra de Lume and Palmeira. It was formed around the international airport named after Amílcar Cabral (IATA airport code SID) located in the heart of the island.Is also the Capital of the Island.
  • Terra Boa is the only place on the island where agriculture can be found on a large scale, as the island is very dry, mainly because it has no mountains to induce rainfall. This place is situated north of Espargos, around 6km.
  • Murdeira is a tourist village resort, which is growing in population.
  • Santa Maria (pop: 15,000 (2010),[2] which was a former salt working village, is now the tourism center of the island, their you can find one of the most beauiful beaches of Cape Verd and Duns. Santa Maria is the main atraction and is growing fast.

Other inhabited settlements are:

  • Feijoal, 5 km west of Pedra de Lume.
  • Fontona, south of Palmeira.
  • Reguinho Fiúra, a remote village near a lighthouse and overlooking Ponta Norte, the island's northernmost point.


Population of Sal, Cape Verde (1940—2010)
1940[3] 1950[3] 1960[3] 1970[3] 1980[3] 1990[3] 2000[4] 2010[5]
1121 1838 2608 5505 5826 7715 14816 35000

Sister city


  • Josh Angulo - professional windsurfer (Capeverdian-American)
  • Ildo Lobo – musician(Native)

See also



External links