It lies on the southern coast of Santiago island in the Sotavento Islands group. It is the island's ferry port and is home to one of the nation’s four international airports. The city centre is known as Platô due to its location on a small plateau.
Praia is Cabo Verde's largest city, a commercial centre, and a port that ships coffee, sugar cane, and tropical fruits. Praia also has a fishing industry and there are resort beaches nearby. It is the seat of the Praia municipality.
Landmarks in the colonial city center include Albuquerque Square, the old city hall built in the 1920s, the Presidential Palace, which was constructed in the end of the 19th century to house the Portuguese governor and the Monumento de Diogo Gomes, named after the Portuguese navigator who discovered the island of Santiago in 1460.
There is the Museu Etnográfico (Ethnographic Museum), which was founded in 1997. Some of the oldest buildings in Praia are Jaime Mota Barracks (Quartel Jaime Mota) dating from 1826.