São Vicente / Cape Verde

São Vicente / Cape Verde


The Cape Verde archipelago is made up of 15 islands, 9 of which are inhabited. Geographers differentiate between northern and southern Cape Verde. The 227 km² large island of São Vicente is located next to Santo Antão in the far north.

Geography and history

The predominantly dry island is dominated by three low mountain range rock massifs. The highest point is the 750 meter high table mountain Monte Verde.

Sao Vicente - driveway to Monte Verde

São Vicente - Driveway to Monte Verde


The volcanic island, more than 600 kilometers off the African coast, was discovered in 1462, on January 22nd. The day is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Valencia in the church calendar. The naming was apparently not difficult. For centuries the island had no strategic value. That changed, however, when steam navigation on transatlantic routes increased in importance in the mid-19th century.

Significance for steamships and submarine cables

During this time, the island's capital, Mindelo, located on a semi-circular natural harbor around four kilometers in diameter, blossomed. The port served as a coal bunker for nearly a century. It developed into one of the most important ports in the world. At the beginning of the 20th century, 2.000 coal-bunkering merchant ships were counted in Mindelo every year. - The city gained additional importance from 1880 as a relay station for submarine cables operated by English operators. In 1912, nine transatlantic submarine cables came together in Mindelo.

Sao Vicente - Mindelo's natural harbor

São Vicente - Mindelo's natural harbor


Economy and culture today

In the middle of the 20th century, however, marine diesel replaced coal on ships as a fuel. From then on, the island quickly lost its importance. As a result, the economy went downhill. Nowadays the port economy, trade, light industry, tourism and various administrative functions ensure the livelihood of the islanders. Important financial support is provided by the European Union, church institutions and UN institutions. Mindelo, with around 75.000 inhabitants, is now the center of Cape Verdean culture and art.

Sao Vicente - Mindelo

Sao Vicente - Mindelo


On São Vicente, as on the other touristy Cape Verde islands, the euro is accepted as a means of payment. The Cape Verdean escudo is pegged to the European currency. In our article we show you what cruise ship guests can do on São Vicente: São Vicente / Cape Verde sights.

Update March 2021