Sal

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THE BEACH

Oasis atlantico santa maria

@Oasis atlantico santa maria

THE BEACH

Oasis atlantico santa maria

@Oasis atlantico santa maria

History

The island of Sal was discovered in 1460, and became famous for its abundant salt flats and marshes. The aridness that characterizes it, however, meant that for centuries the island was left out of Cabo Verde’s settlement process, serving only as pastureland for herds of goats, a habitat for flamingoes and turtles and, sporadically, a place of residence for slaves who extracted salt from its marshes depending on the fluctuations in international demand for the raw material.

Only in the mid-19th Century did the intensive extraction of salt for export to Brazil and Africa determine the island’s consistent settlement. But the island’s real prosperity can be said to have begun in 1939, with the construction of an airport initially intended for the refueling of long-haul flights and later used in the development of the island’s tourism industry.

Today, Sal has the archipelago’s most developed tourism sector. Its 10,000 inhabitants are distributed between Santa Maria, on the Southern tip of the island, and Espargos, the capital, located some two kilometers from the airport.

Geography

Located in the northern part of the archipelago, in the Windward group of islands, Sal is mostly flat and dry, with a total surface area of 216 km2, totaling 30 kilometers in length and 12 in width. Like Cabo Verde’s other islands, Sal has a dry tropical climate, with average annual temperatures ranging between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius.

The island owes its name (“Sal” means “salt” in Portuguese) to the quantity of salt found there, and is excellent for tourism, although its fishing sector also stands out.

Espargos, the island’s main center of commerce, is also where Amílcar Cabral International Airport is located. The south of the island is home to the picturesque town of Santa Maria, where an 8-kilometer-long beach is the main highlight of the island’s tourist district.

Cuisine

The local cuisine is based mainly on the ingredients provided by the sea. The dishes made with fish and seafood are an authentic delight.

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