Tarrafal, Cape Verde

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View of the town of Tarrafal
View of the town of Tarrafal
Tarrafal is located in Cape Verde
Coordinates: 15°16′41″N 23°45′07″W / 15.278°N 23.752°W / 15.278; -23.752Coordinates: 15°16′41″N 23°45′07″W / 15.278°N 23.752°W / 15.278; -23.752
Country Cape Verde
Island Santiago
Municipality Tarrafal
Civil parish Santo Amaro Abade
Population (2010)[1]
 • Total 6,656

Tarrafal is a town in the northern part of the island of Santiago, Cape Verde. Its 2010 population was 6,656 making it the fourth most largest place on the island and the second largest town. The town is sometimes known as Mangui or Mangue as its second name, its etymology is the area dominated by mango groves. It is a fishing port situated on the northwestern coast. It constitutes the seat of the Tarrafal Municipality.


Tarrafal Beach with Monte Graciosa
Tarrafal's Main street

The city boasts a beautiful soft-sand and palm-tree lined beach in the shadow of Monte Graciosa, a distinctive mountain just north of the settlement and is situated by Baía de Tarrafal. It is a popular vacation and tourism spot for people on the island. Tarrafal is the northern anchor of two roads, one leading through Assomada to Praia (the Cape Verdean capital), the EN1-ST01 and the other through Calheta de São Miguel and Pedra Badejo. There is also a small road that leads to the northernmost point of the island of Santiago named Ponta Preta.

There are several other settlements in Cape Verde with the same name, notably Tarrafal on the island of São Nicolau; however, Tarrafal on the island of Santiago is the largest and most populous. The town is named after a flowering plant Tamarix senegalensis (another one being Tamarix africana, Portuguese: tarafes, the African tamarisk) which is abundant in the area, of the two tamarisks, the Senegalese tamarisk (locally as the Cape Verde tamarisk) is the dominant kind, it is a flower that grows on sandy areas.[2]

Several landmarks and churches includes Santo Amaro Abade which acts as the parish seat which also covers the whole municipality. It also has a market hall. A resort lies to the west. Other landmarks include hotels such as Baia Verde, Mar Azul, Milles Nuits Tarrafal, Tatá and Vila Botánico. Tourism has recently become dominant in Tarrafal but may be equally active as to Praia and the south but not to the islands of Sal and Boa Vista.[3] When tourism started before 2000, it was less active than the south or the middle of the island. Tourism may become the leading industry in Tarrafal and area.


Early history of Tarrafal before the 19th century is not understood, the area was first inhabited around the 16th or the 17th century. The then settlement was mentioned in the 1747 French/Dutch map by Jacques Nicolas Bellin and was written as "Terrafal".[4]

Up to the 1840s, the municipal seat was at Chão Bom located near Ribeira Grande do Norte. In 1869, the municipal seat of Santa Catarina would be moved to Tarrafal, also known as Mangue and remained until May 4, 1912 as the seat of Santa Catarina moved to Assomada in the south. The municipality of Tarrafal was created and the town became its own municipal seat.[5]

Santo Ámaro Abade church, also serves as the seat of its parish that covers the whole municipality

The built up area was concentrated only within Tarrafal Beach, in the 1990s, it reached the foot of a nearby hill and the west along the main street. In 2003, houses started to appear 1 km east and east of the hill. As of 2016, the built up area had spread nearly southwest by 600 meters and about a third built up in the east and spread northeast. Another football (soccer) field is also located in the east.


Year Population
23 June 1990, census 3 626
16 June 2000, census 5 785
1 January 2005, estimate 6 463
2010, census 6 656


Minibus services (yasi or hilux) are offered in Tarrafal and connects with the city of Praia, its rate is 500 escudos per ride and about 250 escudos with Assomada.

Also it is about 62 km from Nelson Mandela International Airport, the island's airport and 65 km from the ferry Port of Praia, all accessed through Praia's Circular Road.

View over Tarrafal along with Monte Graciosa from the Serra Malagueta ranges


Tarrafal offers nice panoramic views of the surrounding area including its nearby mountains of the northwest of the island and further west-southwest is the eastern part of the Fogo along with its peak and the east of the Mosteiros area. Ilhéus Secos (or Rombo), islets north of Brava as the elevation are under 100 meters, are not seen as being under a degree west.


Other than its tamarisk tree, numerous endangered flora and fauna are founded in the area especially at Monte Graciosa. Rare fauna founded in the sea within the city and its area includes the goose barnacle Pollicipes caboverdensis[6], the coral Balanopsammia wirtzi, the only species of the genus[7] and Cape Verde (or Capeverdean basslet) Liopropoma emanueli These were named in the first years of the current decade with its type location in the area, the latter has its type location at the "Danger" diving site located southwest of the city.[8]


Several football (soccer) clubs are founded in town, all clubs play at Estádio de Mangue (commonly as Tarrafal) in the south of Tarrafal north of the communal limits.

Named after[edit]

A Crater on Mars is named after the town and is located in the Oxia Palus quadrangle (or Oxia). The name was officially approved by the IAU on 6 May 2013.[9] The crater is located northeast of the larger Oyama Crater and lies southeast of Muara crater, east is Mawrth Vallis. It may be the first crater on Mars named after a place from Cape Verde other than the main city of each island.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2010 Census results". Instituto Nacional de Estatística Cabo Verde (in Portuguese). 24 November 2016. 
  2. ^ "Plantas Endémicas Cabo-verdianas" [Endemic Cape Verdean plants]. A Semana (in Portuguese). 11 February 2004. Retrieved 19 February 2017. 
  3. ^ "Ilhas de Cabo Verde - SANTIAGO". Retrieved 2018-02-22. 
  4. ^ Jacques-Nicolas Bellin; Pieter de Hondt (1747). "Carte des Isles du Cap Verd = Kaart van de Eilanden van Kabo Verde" (in French). 
  5. ^ Vieira, Henrique Lubrano de Santa Rita (1993). A Vila de Assomada. Associação dos Amigos do Concelho de Santa Catarina. p. 14. 
  6. ^ Fernandes, J.N.; Cruz, T.; Van Syoc, R. Pollicipes caboverdensis sp. nov (PDF). (Crustacea: Cirripedia: Scalpelliformes), an intertidal barnacle from the Cape Verde Islands. 2557. Zootaxa. p. 29-38. doi:10.11646/%25x. 
  7. ^ Ocaña, O. & Brito, A., 2013: Balanopsammia wirtzi, a new genus and species of coral (Anthozoa: Scleractinia: Dendrophylliidae) from the Cape Verde Islands: A comparative study with the Mediterranean Cladopsammia rolandi. Revista de la Academia Canaria de Ciencias, 25: 87–104.
  8. ^ Wirtz, P. & Schliewen, U. K.; 2012: A new species of Liopropoma Gill, 1862 from the Cape Verde Islands, Eastern Atlantic (Teleostei, Perciformes, Serranidae). Spixiana, 35 (1): 149–154.
  9. ^ "Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature | Tarrafal on Mars". usgs.gov. International Astronomical Union. Retrieved 17 August 2017.