Barlavento Islands

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Barlavento islands (yellow)
Barlavento Islands with its islands

The Barlavento islands (literally, the Windward), is the northern island group of Cape Verde archipelago. Its total area is 2230 km².

It can be divided into two groups: Santo Antão (779 km²), São Vicente (227 km²), São Nicolau (388 km²), Santa Luzia (35 km²) islands and Branco and Raso islets lie to the west and are rocky, volcanic, agricultural islands.

Sal (216 km²) and Boa Vista (620 km²) lie to the east and are flat, desert islands with economies once based on salt and now turning to tourism, having more in common with Maio among the Sotavento.

Minor islets include Ilhéu de Sal-Rei and Ilhéu do Baluarte (or Ilhéu do Roque) off Boa Vista, Ilhéu dos Pássaros off São Vicente and Ilhéu Rabo de Junco off Sal.

Mindelo on São Vicente is the most populated city followed by Espargos on Sal, Porto Novo on Santo Antão, Santa Maria also on Sal and Ribeira Brava on São Nicolau.

The most mountainous islands are Santo Antão and São Nicolau and each has elevation over 1,000 meters above sea level, Boa Vista and Sal are the least mountainous. Topo da Coroa (1,982 m) is the highest point.


São Nicolau and Santo Antão were the first inhabited islands in Barlavento. Boa Vista, Santa Luzia and Sal were third, inhabited in the 16th century and São Vicente was the sixth island to be inhabited in the 1790s

In the early years, Santo Antão was the most populated island and remained for many decades. In 1832, the population was 33,500, Santo Antão was the most populated island in Barlavento and the second in Cape Verde, São Nicolau was second, São Vicente was third and Sal was fourth. Santa Luzia became an abandoned settlement in the 1850s. In 1900, the population rose in some island though Santo Antão remained the most populated island. Around the 1920s, São Vicente became Barlavento's second most populated island and fourth in Cape Verde. São Vicente was the fastest growing population in Barlavento in numbers, in percentage, in the 1950s, Sal took the position. In the 1960s, Boa Vista island became the leastly populated island in Barlavento, Sal took the position with air traffic services boosted its economy. Since the early 1980s, São Vicente island is the most populated island in the Barlavento Islands. Sal has the fastest growing population today. Tourism flourishing in Sal put the island to be the third most populated island in the late 1990s.


From 1900, the population has nearly tripled from about 48,000 to 147,019 in 2000. The population in the 2010 census is 170,587.

Year Population
1830 34,500 [a]
1900 48,600[b]
1930 52,583[c]
1940 70,570[1]
1950 63,164[1]
1960 74,395[1]
1970 101,583[1]
1980 107,685[1][2]
1990 119,954[1][2]
2000 147,019[3]
2010 170,587[3]

See also


  1. ^ Approximate population
  2. ^ Estimate popiulation
  3. ^ Estimate population


  1. ^ a b c d e f Source: Statoids
  2. ^ a b SNE, the predecessor to the INE
  3. ^ a b Source: Instituto Nacional de Estatísticas Archived 2008-11-18 at the Wayback Machine..

Further reading

  • Barlavento Islands article at Britannica Online, accessed on 1 January 2010
  • Michel Lesourd, Les îles Barlavento (Barlavento Islands), Le Cap-Vert (Cape Verde), Jaguar Publishers, Paris, 2006, p. 154-215 978-2-86950-408-0 (in French)

Coordinates: 17°00′N 24°00′W / 17.000°N 24.000°W / 17.000; -24.000

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