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The islet of Santa Maria is in front of the beach bearing the same name (today more known as Gamboa).For a long time, only the Plateau was considered to be the city, being the other neighbourhoods relegated to the condition of peripheral suburbs, in spite of always having a close relationship with the Plateau (people movements, goods and services exchanges, etc.).Urbanization begun immediately after independence and sought to expand north.The Plateau is still attracting most of the daily traffic within the city because it is still considered the economic and administrative center of the city.However, the successive Portuguese administrations never showed an interest (economical or political? Through an official decree in 1858, when its status was changed from town to city, Praia secured its status as the capital of Cabo Verde, concentrating political, religious and economic roles.During the Portuguese administration, only the central plateau was considered to be the city proper and thus the principal zone of urbanization and concentration of municipal services.
It lies on the southern coast of Santiago island in the Sotavento Islands group.
— achada being a Portuguese word to designate a volcanic plateau), but the central one is colloquially called Plateau (in Portuguese itself).
The urban settlement is made mostly on top of these plateaus and along the valleys.
The official transfer of capital status from Ribeira Grande to Praia took place in 1770.
In the history of Cabo Verde there have been successive proposals for transferring the capital elsewhere, the most recent being Mindelo in the late 19th century.
This is why only the Plateau previously had relatively well-developed urbanization with its own infra-structures.