Santiago is located between the islands of Maio (40 km west) and Fogo (50 km east) and is one of the Sotavento. It was the first of the islands to be settled, the town of Cidade Velha being founded as Riberia Grande in 1462. It is also home to the nation's capital city of Praia and to one of the islands’ two international airports, Praia International Airport, 3 km from the capital (IATA airport code: RAI, Praia).
The island was discovered by António da Noli in around 1460 who built a garrison in Cidade Velha which was then known as Ribeira Grande. Transcontinental slavery made Cidade Velha the second richest city in the Portuguese realm. Portugal was unable to protect its colonies because the English, Dutch, French and Spanish took over the slave trade and the island was later raided by pirates. In 1712, the capital no longer served Cidade Velha which was attacked by pirates and was moved to the Praia plateau. The island population were disadvantaged by the Portuguese colonial system and supported Amílcar Cabral and the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde and the independence of 1975. Santiago several times hosted conferences on Creole culture.
Since the independence of Cape Verde, infrastructure has improved, especially schools, ports, airports, roads, etc.
Personalities: José Maria Neves, Prime Minister