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Praia (pronounced 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 Plateau due to its location on a small plateau. Praia is located at 14°55' North, 23°31' West (14.91667, -23.51667).[1]

Praia is Cape 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 municipality of the same name.



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.

In the history of Cape 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 Cape Verde, concentrating political, religious and economic roles.

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