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Difference between Sotavento and Barlavento islands.

September 07, 2020 • 1 min read

Sotavento and Barlavento are two island groups in Cabo Verde

Background

There are two island groups that combine to form the Cabo Verde archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. In total, there are ten islands, and eight islets taking up a combined land area of around 4,033 square kilometers or 1,557 square miles.

Sotavento

Sotavento is the island group which consists of islands in the southern half of the Cabo Verde archipelago. These islands are Brava, Fogo, Santiago, and Maio.


The name Sotavento translates directly to Leeward, thus meaning the Leeward Islands. This name comes from the direction downwind from a point where the wind is blowing. In the picture above, if you stood in the middle of the Cabo Verde islands, the wind would be blowing towards Brava, Fogo, Santiago, and Maio, which is why they are the Leeward or Sotavento islands.


Out of this group, Maio is the only island that is flat and a desert island. On the other hand, the other three islands are rockier, higher in elevation, and have more vegetation.


Together, the Sotavento islands have a total land area of around 1,803 square kilometers or 696 square miles.

Barlavento

While Sotavento refers to the Leeward Islands, Barlavento refers to the Windward islands. You can think of Windward as the direction from where the wind is blowing.


Using the same example from before, if you stood in the middle of the Cabo Verde islands, the wind would be blowing from the direction of Santo Antao, Sao Vicente, Santa Luzia, Sao Nicolau, Sal and Boa Vista. As a result, these are the Windward or Barlavento islands.


When it comes to the Barlavento islands, Sal and Boa Vista are the desert islands and are overall lower in elevation than the rest of the islands in this group.


The total land area of the Barlavento islands comes in at around 2,239 square kilometers or 864 square miles.

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