Sal Island Cape Verde

Sal Island Overview

Sal can best be described as a beach lover’s paradise and more! 

It is easy to see why Sal is Cape Verde’s most popular island for holidaymakers with white sandy beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see and sinking into the azure waters.

Sal successfully caters for many different kinds of holidamakers and not just the serious beach goers. 

With perfect year round sunshine you are guaranteed plenty of fun with great water sports, snorkelling, big game fishing, diving to explore the marine life around the coast with colorful fish, dolphins, turtle and even whale watching.

Boats Cape Verde

For those in search of something a little more unique there is a lot of history in the island’s once booming salt trade, (from which the island took it’s name), and if you head inland you will discover a vast barren landscape with amazing features.

If you are looking for a tropical paradise close to home than the Caribbean one thing’s guaranteed, your holiday on Sal will be a memorable one.

Sal (Portuguese for “salt”) is an island in Cape Verde. It belongs to the northern group of islands, called Barlavento (“windwards”), and comprises a single administrative division, the municipality of Sal. Its seat is the city of Espargos.

History of Sal Island

The island was discovered on December 3, 1460 and named Llana (“flat”). This name was changed into the current “Sal” when the two large salt ponds (Pedra de Lume and Santa Maria) were discovered.

The first three centuries after its discovery, the island was only sparsely inhabited; in 1720 there was a small fishing village near present Palmeira.

This changed when the salt industry was developed at the end of the 18th century, starting in Pedra de Lume. Santa Maria was founded in the south of the island in 1830 by Manuel António Martins.

During this time the salt industry thrived, with 30,000 tons of salt being exported in the early years. Most of the salt was exported to Brazil until its nationalization in 1887, Portuguese and French salt investors resumed salt production until 1984.

In 1939 Italy started constructing an airport to receive flights from Europe and South America. Construction was halted and ceased around World War II. The Portuguese bought the airport from the Italians and finished it in 1949. Northeast of the airport, workers from São Nicolau Island settled in a village named Preguiça, now part of Espargos.


The island is 29.7 km long and 11.8 km wide. Its area is 219.8 km2. It is one of the three sandy eastern islands (Sal, Boa Vista and Maio) of the archipelago, with white sandy beaches. The island is fairly flat; its highest point is Monte Grande, at 406 m elevation. The uninhabited islet Ilhéu Rabo de Junco lies near the west coast of Sal. Saline marshes can be found in the Pedra de Lume crater and north of Santa Maria.


Sal Island has on average 350 days of sunshine a year. Winds mainly blow from the northeast. However, some days do also have clouds, but they tend to be scattered and seldom bring rain. The ‘rainy season’ is from July to mid-October, although rainfall is still low.


Administratively, the island of Sal is covered by one municipality, Concelho do Sal. This municipality consists of one freguesia (civil parish), Nossa Senhora das Dores, which also covers the whole island. The municipality of Sal was created in 1935, when it was separated from the Municipality of Boa Vista. The municipal seat was originally at Santa Maria, but Espargos became the municipal seat in the 1970s.

The freguesia is subdivided into the following settlements:
Espargos (city
Pedra de Lume
Santa Maria (city)
Terra Boa


As of 1832, the population was estimated at 400 people. Until 1960, it was the least populous island of the nine inhabited islands of Cape Verde, with less than 3,000 inhabitants. Since then the population has been growing rapidly, reaching more than 33,000 in 2015, which makes it the fifth most populous island in Cape Verde, after Santiago, São Vicente, Santo Antão and Fogo.

Current population os Sal Island in July 2019 population was 39,700


Sal’s main town, Espargos, is home to one of the nation’s international airports. Tourism, focused on the area of Santa Maria, has replaced salt and fishing as the main source of income.

In 2017, 48.2% of the country’s available beds were on the island of Sal. The living standards on the island is among the best in the Cape Verde archipelago. The island’s GDP per capita as of 2015 is 495,827 escudos (4,497 euro).


The island is home to Amílcar Cabral International Airport, the busiest airport of Cape Verde. The main port of the island of Sal is at Palmeira.

The main roads are:
Santa Maria – Espargos Road (EN1-SL01)
Palmeira – Espargos Road (EN1-SL02)

Article Source: Wikipedia

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