São Tomé and Príncipe: Wikis

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Democratic Republic of
São Tomé and Príncipe
República Democrática de
São Tomé e Príncipe
Flag Coat of arms
AnthemIndependência total
Capital
(and largest city)
São Tomé
0°20′N 6°44′E / 0.333°N 6.733°E / 0.333; 6.733
Official language(s) Portuguese
Recognised regional languages Forro, Angolar, Principense
Demonym Santomean
Government Democratic semi-presidential Republic
 -  President Fradique de Menezes
 -  Prime Minister Joaquim Rafael Branco
Independence from Portugal 
 -  Date 12 July 1975 
Area
 -  Total 1,001 km2 (183rd)
372 sq mi 
 -  Water (%) 0
Population
 -  2009 estimate 163,000[1] (188th)
 -  Density 169.1/km2 (69th)
438.2/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $281 million[2] 
 -  Per capita $1,751[2] 
GDP (nominal) 2008 estimate
 -  Total $175 million[2] 
 -  Per capita $1,094[2] 
HDI (2007) 0.651 (medium) (131st)
Currency Dobra (STD)
Time zone UTC (UTC+0)
Drives on the right
Internet TLD .st
Calling code 239

São Tomé and Príncipe, officially the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, is a Portuguese-speaking island nation in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Africa. It consists of two islands: São Tomé and Príncipe, located about 140 kilometres (87 mi) apart and about 250 and 225 kilometres (155 and 140 mi), respectively, off the northwestern coast of Gabon. Both islands are part of an extinct volcanic mountain range. São Tomé, the sizable southern island, is situated just north of the equator. It was named in honour of Saint Thomas by Portuguese explorers who happened to arrive at the island on his feast day.

São Tomé and Príncipe is the second-smallest African country in terms of population (the Seychelles being the smallest). It is the smallest country in the world that is not a former British overseas territory, a former United States trusteeship, or one of the European microstates. It is also the smallest Portuguese-speaking country.

The name in Portuguese, São Tomé e Príncipe, is pronounced [sɐ̃ũ tuˈmɛ i ˈpɾĩsɨpɨ]. Pronunciation of São Tomé and Príncipe in English varies, with dictionaries citing the most common pronunciations as /ˌsaʊ toʊˈmeɪ ən ˈprɪnsɨpə/ SOW toh-MAY ən PRIN-sə-pə and /ˌsaʊ tɒˈmeɪ ənd ˈprɪnsɨpeɪ/ SOW to-MAY ənd PRIN-sə-pay.

Contents

History

The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe were uninhabited before the arrival of the Portuguese sometime around 1470. The islands were discovered by João de Santarém and Pedro Escobar and bore his name until the 20th century. Portuguese navigators explored the islands and decided that they would be good locations for bases to trade with the mainland.

The dates of discovery are sometimes given as December 21 (St Thomas's Day), 1471 for São Tomé, and January 17 (St Anthony's Day), 1472 for Principe,[3] though other sources give different nearby years. Principe was initially named Santo Antão ("Saint Anthony"), changing its name in 1502 to Ilha do Principe ("Prince's Island"), in reference to the Prince of Portugal to whom duties on the island's sugar crop were paid.

The first successful settlement of São Tomé was established in 1493 by Álvaro Caminha, who received the land as a grant from the crown. Príncipe was settled in 1500 under a similar arrangement. Attracting settlers proved difficult, however, and most of the earliest inhabitants were "undesirables" sent from Portugal, mostly Jews[4]. In time these settlers found the volcanic soil of the region suitable for agriculture, especially the growing of sugar.

The cultivation of sugar was a labour-intensive process and the Portuguese began to import large numbers of slaves from the mainland. By the mid-1500s the Portuguese settlers had turned the islands into Africa's foremost exporter of sugar. São Tomé and Príncipe were taken over and administered by the Portuguese crown in 1522 and 1573, respectively.

However, superior sugar colonies in the western hemisphere began to hurt the islands. The large slave population also proved difficult to control, with Portugal unable to invest many resources in the effort. Sugar cultivation thus declined over the next 100 years, and by the mid-17th century, the economy of São Tomé had changed. It was now primarily a transit point for ships engaged in the slave trade between the West and continental Africa.

In the early 19th century, two new cash crops, coffee and cocoa, were introduced. The rich volcanic soils proved well suited to the new cash crop industry, and soon extensive plantations (roças), owned by Portuguese companies or absentee landlords, occupied almost all of the good farmland. By 1908, São Tomé had become the world's largest producer of cocoa, which remains the country's most important crop.

The roças system, which gave the plantation managers a high degree of authority, led to abuses against the African farm workers. Although Portugal officially abolished slavery in 1876, the practice of forced paid labor continued. In the early 20th century, an internationally publicized controversy arose over charges that Angolan contract workers were being subjected to forced labor and unsatisfactory working conditions. Sporadic labor unrest and dissatisfaction continued well into the 20th century, culminating in an outbreak of riots in 1953 in which several hundred African laborers were killed in a clash with their Portuguese rulers. This "Batepá Massacre" remains a major event in the colonial history of the islands, and its anniversary is officially observed by the government.

The cathedral - Sé - of Sao Tomé

By the late 1950s, when other emerging nations across the African Continent were demanding independence, a small group of São Toméans had formed the Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe (MLSTP), which eventually established its base in nearby Gabon. Picking up momentum in the 1960s, events moved quickly after the overthrow of the Caetano dictatorship in Portugal in April 1974. The new Portuguese regime was committed to the dissolution of its overseas colonies; in November 1974, their representatives met with the MLSTP in Algiers and worked out an agreement for the transfer of sovereignty. After a period of transitional government, São Tomé and Príncipe achieved independence on July 12, 1975, choosing as the first president the MLSTP Secretary General Manuel Pinto da Costa.

In 1990, São Tomé became one of the first African countries to embrace democratic reform, and changes to the constitution — the legalization of opposition political parties — led to elections in 1991 that were nonviolent, free, and transparent. Miguel Trovoada, a former prime minister who had been in exile since 1986, returned as an independent candidate and was elected president. Trovoada was re-elected in São Tomé's second multi-party presidential election in 1996. The Party of Democratic Convergence (PCD) overtook the MLSTP to take a majority of seats in the National Assembly, with the MLSTP becoming an important and vocal minority party. Municipal elections followed in late 1992, in which the MLSTP came back to win a majority of seats on five of seven regional councils. In early legislative elections in October 1994, the MLSTP won a plurality of seats in the Assembly. It regained an outright majority of seats in the November 1998 elections. The Government of São Tomé fully functions under a multi-party system. Presidential elections were held in July 2001. The candidate backed by the Independent Democratic Action party, Fradique de Menezes, was elected in the first round and inaugurated on September 3. Parliamentary elections were held in March 2002. For the next four years, a series of short-lived opposition-led governments were formed.

The army seized power for one week in July 2003, complaining of corruption and that forthcoming oil revenues would not be divided fairly. An accord was negotiated under which President de Menezes was returned to office.

The cohabitation period ended in March 2006, when a pro-presidential coalition won enough seats in National Assembly elections to form and head a new government.

In the 30 July 2006 presidential election, Fradique de Menezes easily won a second five-year term in office, defeating two other candidates Patrice Trovoada (son of former President Miguel Trovoada) and independent Nilo Guimarães. Local elections, the first since 1992, took place on 27 August 2006 and were dominated by members of the ruling coalition.

On February 12, 2009, there has been an attempted coup d'état to overthrow President Fradique de Menezes according to sources of the authorities.[5]

Politics

São Tomé has functioned under a multiparty system since 1990. The president of the republic is elected to a 5-year term by direct universal suffrage and a secret ballot, and must gain an outright majority to be elected. The president may hold up to two consecutive terms. The prime minister is named by the president, and the fourteen members of cabinet are chosen by the prime minister.

The National Assembly, the supreme organ of the state and the highest legislative body, is made up of 55 members, who are elected for a 4-year term and meet semiannually. Justice is administered at the highest level by the Supreme Court. The judiciary is independent under the current constitution.

With regards to human rights, there exists the freedom of speech and the freedom to form opposition political parties.

São Tomé and Príncipe finished 9th out of the 48 sub-Saharan African countries measured by the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, a comprehensive reflection of the levels of governance in Africa.[6]

Provinces and districts

São Tomé and Príncipe is divided into 2 provinces: Príncipe, São Tomé.

The provinces are further divided into seven districts, six on São Tomé and one on Príncipe (with Príncipe having self-government since April 29, 1995).

Geography

Map of São Tomé and Príncipe

The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, situated in the equatorial Atlantic about 300 and 250 kilometres (186 and 155 mi), respectively, off the northwest coast of Gabon, constitute Africa's second smallest country. Both are part of the Cameroon volcanic mountain line, which also includes the islands of Annobón to the southwest, Bioko to the northeast (both part of Equatorial Guinea), and Mount Cameroon on the African west coast.

Beach scenery on São Tomé.

São Tomé is 50 km (31 mi) long and 32 km (20 mi) wide and the more mountainous of the two islands. Its peaks reach 2,024 metres (6,640 ft). Príncipe is about 30 km (19 mi) long and 6 km (4 mi) wide. Swift streams radiating down the mountains through lush forest and cropland to the sea cross both islands.

At sea level, the climate is tropical—hot and humid with average yearly temperatures of about 27 °C (80.6 °F) and little daily variation. The temperature rarely rises beyond
32 °C (89.6 °F). At the interior's higher altitudes, the average yearly temperature is 20 °C (68 °F), and nights are generally cool. Annual rainfall varies from 5,000 mm (196.85 in) on the southwestern slopes to 1,000 mm (39.37 in) in the northern lowlands. The rainy season runs from October to May.

The equator lies immediately south of São Tomé Island, passing through an islet named Ilhéu das Rolas.

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Wildlife

São Tomé and Príncipe does not have a large number of native mammals (although the São Tomé Shrew and several bat species are endemic). The islands are home to a larger number of endemic birds and plants, including the world's smallest ibis (the São Tomé Ibis), the world's largest sunbird (the Giant Sunbird), and several giant species of Begonia.

Economy

Since the 1800s, the economy of São Tomé and Príncipe has been based on plantation agriculture. At the time of independence, Portuguese-owned plantations occupied 90% of the cultivated area. After independence, control of these plantations passed to various state-owned agricultural enterprises. The main crop on São Tomé is cocoa, representing about 95% of exports. Other export crops include copra, palm kernels, and coffee.

Domestic food-crop production is inadequate to meet local consumption, so the country imports some of its food. Efforts have been made by the government in recent years to expand food production, and several projects have been undertaken, largely financed by foreign donors.

Fisherman landing their catch in São Tomé

Other than agriculture, the main economic activities are fishing and a small industrial sector engaged in processing local agricultural products and producing a few basic consumer goods. The scenic islands have potential for tourism, and the government is attempting to improve its rudimentary tourist industry infrastructure. The government sector accounts for about 11% of employment.

Following independence, the country had a centrally directed economy with most means of production owned and controlled by the state. The original constitution guaranteed a "mixed economy," with privately owned cooperatives combined with publicly owned property and means of production. In the 1980s and 1990s, the economy of São Tomé encountered major difficulties. Economic growth stagnated, and cocoa exports dropped in both value and volume, creating large balance-of-payments deficits. Efforts to redistribute plantation land resulted in decreased cocoa production. At the same time, the international price of cocoa slumped.

In response to its economic downturn, the government undertook a series of far-reaching economic reforms. In 1987, the government implemented an International Monetary Fund (IMF) structural adjustment program, and invited greater private participation in management of the parastatals, as well as in the agricultural, commercial, banking, and tourism sectors. The focus of economic reform since the early 1990s has been widespread privatization, especially of the state-run agricultural and industrial sectors.

São Tomé market

The São Toméan Government has traditionally obtained foreign assistance from various donors, including the UN Development Programme, the World Bank, the European Union (EU), Portugal, Taiwan, and the African Development Bank. In April 2000, in association with the Banco Central de São Tomé e Príncipe, the IMF approved a poverty reduction and growth facility for São Tomé aimed at reducing inflation to 3% for 2001, raising ideal growth to 4%, and reducing the fiscal deficit.

In late 2000, São Tomé qualified for significant debt reduction under the IMF-World Bank's Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. The reduction is currently being reevaluated by the IMF, due to the attempted coup d'état in July 2003 and subsequent emergency spending. Following the truce, the IMF decided to send a mission to São Tomé to evaluate the macroeconomic state of the country. This evaluation is ongoing, reportedly pending oil legislation to determine how the government will manage incoming oil revenues.

Portugal remains one of São Tomé's major trading partners, particularly as a source of imports. Food, manufactured articles, machinery, and transportation equipment are imported primarily from the EU.

Petroleum exploration

In 2001, São Tomé and Nigeria reached agreement on joint exploration for petroleum in waters claimed by the two countries of the Niger Delta geologic province. After a lengthy series of negotiations, in April 2003 the joint development zone (JDZ) was opened for bids by international oil firms. The JDZ was divided into 9 blocks; the winning bids for block one, ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil, and the Norwegian firm, Equity Energy, were announced in April 2004, with São Tomé to take in 40% of the $123 million bid, and Nigeria the other 60%. Bids on other blocks were still under consideration in October 2004. Sao Tome has received more than $2 million from the bank to develop its petroleum sector. São Tomé stands to gain significant revenue both from the bidding process and from follow-on production, should reserves in the area match expectations.[7]

Banking

Banco Central de Sāo Tomé e Príncipe is the central bank, responsible for monetary policy and bank supervision. There are six banks in the country. The largest and oldest is Banco Internacional de Sao Tome e Principe, which is a subsidiary of Portugal's government-owned Caixa Geral de Depósitos. It had a monopoly on commercial banking until a change in the banking law in 2003 led to the entry of several other banks.

Demographics

Children in São Tomé and Príncipe.

Of São Tomé and Príncipe's total population, about 137,500 live on São Tomé and 6,000 on Príncipe. All are descended from various ethnic groups that have migrated to the islands since 1485. Seven groups are identifiable:

  • Mestiços, or mixed-blood, descendants of Portuguese colonists and African slaves brought to the islands during the early years of settlement from Benin, Gabon, and Congo (these people also are known as filhos da terra or "sons of the land");
  • Angolares, reputedly descendants of Angolan slaves who survived a 1540 shipwreck and now earn their livelihood fishing;
  • Forros, descendants of freed slaves when slavery was abolished;
  • Serviçais, contract laborers from Angola, Mozambique, and Cape Verde, living temporarily on the islands;
  • Tongas, children of serviçais born on the islands;
  • Europeans, primarily Portuguese; and
  • Asians, mostly Chinese minority, including Macanese people of mixed Portuguese and Chinese ancestry from Macau.

In the 1970s, there were two significant population movements—the exodus of most of the 4,000 Portuguese residents and the influx of several hundred São Toméan refugees from Angola. The islanders have been absorbed largely into a common Luso-African culture. Almost all belong to the Roman Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, or Seventh-day Adventist Churches, with a small but growing Muslim population.

Although a small country, São Tomé and Príncipe has four national languages: Portuguese (the official language, spoken by 95% of the population), and the Portuguese-based creoles Forro (85%), Angolar (3%) and Principense (0.1%). French is also taught in schools, as the country is a member of Francophonie.

The equator marked as it crosses Ilhéu das Rolas, in São Tomé and Príncipe. The shadow points SW indicating that the Sun is several degrees North likely late April or early August about 1-2 hours before Noon.

Health

Malaria is present in the country.[8] Female life expectancy at birth was at 67.3 years in 2007 and male life expectancy at 63.5.[9] Healthy life expectancy at birth was at 54 years in 2007.

[9] Government health expenditure was at US $ 120 (PPP) per capita in 2006. [9]

Culture

São Toméan culture is a mixture of African and Portuguese influences.

São Toméans are known for ússua and socopé rhythms, while Principe is home to the dêxa beat. Portuguese ballroom dancing may have played an integral part in the development of these rhythms and their associated dances.

Tchiloli is a musical dance performance that tells a dramatic story. The danço-congo is similarly a combination of music, dance and theatre.

See also

References

External links

Government
General information
News
Tourism
Other

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to Sao Tome and Principe article)

From Wikitravel

Africa : Central Africa : Sao Tome and Principe
noframe
Location
noframe
Flag
Image:tp-flag.png
Quick Facts
Capital São Tomé
Government republic
Currency dobra (STD)
Area 1,000 sq km
Population 170,372 (July 2002 est.)
Language Portuguese (official)
Religion Christian 80% (Roman Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, Seventh-Day Adventist)
Electricity 220V/50Hz (European plug)
Calling Code +239
Internet TLD .st
Time Zone UTC

São Tomé and Príncipe (often called just "São Tomé" for short) is a small island nation off the Atlantic coast of Central Africa, located in the Gulf of Guinea, straddling the Equator, west of Gabon. Discovered and claimed by Portugal in the late 15th century, the islands' sugar-based economy gave way to coffee and cocoa in the 19th century -- all grown with plantation slave labor, a form of which lingered into the 20th century. Although independence was achieved in 1975, democratic reforms were not instituted until the late 1980s, and the first free elections were held in 1991.

  • São Tomé Island (Ilha de São Tomé) - the larger island (and surrounding islets)
  • Príncipe Island (Ilha do Príncipe) - the smaller island (and surrounding islets)
  • São Tomé - Capital city and largest city in the country.
  • Santo António - The capital city of Principe Island.

Understand

This small poor island economy has become increasingly dependent on cocoa since independence 34 years ago. However, cocoa production has substantially declined because of drought and mismanagement. The resulting shortage of cocoa for export has created a persistent balance-of-payments problem. São Tomé has to import all fuels, most manufactured goods, consumer goods, and a substantial amount of food. Over the years, it has been unable to service its foreign debt and has had to depend on concessional aid and debt rescheduling. São Tomé benefited from $200 million in debt relief in December 2000 under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program. São Tomé's success in implementing structural reforms has been rewarded by international donors, who have pledged increased assistance in 2001. Considerable potential exists for development of a tourist industry, and the government has taken steps to expand facilities in recent years. The government also has attempted to reduce price controls and subsidies. São Tomé is also optimistic that substantial petroleum discoveries are forthcoming in its territorial waters in the oil-rich waters of the Gulf of Guinea. Corruption scandals continue to weaken the economy.

Map of São Tomé and Principe
Map of São Tomé and Principe

Visas

Visas are issued on arrival ONLY if prior arrangements are made through the foreign ministry. A visa or letter from the foreign ministry is required to board an airplane bound for Sao Tome. Local travel agents (e.g. Gold Tours) can process visa application through the ministry in a week if you email the information page of your passport and the application found on their web site. In this case you pay a service fee to the tour operators in addition to US$100 (Oct/09) to immigration on arrival to have a 30 day visa stamped in your passport. Yellow fever vaccination is checked on arrival at Sao Tome airport.

As of October 2009, the Sao Tome Embassies in Washington, DC, Lisbon and UN Mission in New York and appear to have been abandoned with all listed phone, fax and e-mail addresses failing.

In Europe, a STP visa may be obtained in Brussels: Square Montgomery, 175 Avenue de Tervuren, +32 2 734 89 66. There is no STP diplomatic mission in Oceania. For travellers arriving from mainland Africa, there is a STP diplomatic mission in Gabon: B.P. 49, Libreville, (241) 72-15-27.

There are few embassies in STP. The embassies dully accredited to STP are: Librevill, Gabon (USA); Luanda, Angola (UK); Yaoundé, Cameroon (Canada); & Abuja, Nigeria (Australia). The nearest New Zealand embassy is in Namibia.

By plane

There are two weekly flight with the Portuguese airline TAP [1] from Lisbon to São Tomé, on Fridays and Saturdays. This stretch is flown by Air Luxor [2]. On Sundays TAAG Angola Airlines flies to São Tomé from Luanda. TAAG also serves São Tomé from Cape Verde. Aerocontractors flies from Lagos,Nigeria Saturdays to Sao Tome.

Talk

The official language is Portuguese, and due to the comparative lack of English-speaking tourists, the visitor should assume that it will be necessary.

Buy

São Tomé and Príncipe uses the Dobra, which is a restricted currency (the import and export of local currency is prohibited). The import of foreign currency is unlimited subject to declaration, and you may export only up to the amount you import. Travelers' cheques are generally not recommended. Euros, and sometimes dollars, are commonly accepted at larger restaurants and shops.

Eat

Fish is a staple of the São Toméan diet, often served with breadfruit and mashed, cooked bananas. The variety of fish is wide, including flying fish at certain times of year. Inland, many São Toméans get their protein from buzios, large land snails. Sea snails are also quite common along the coast. In spite of the abject poverty, São Toméans can always count on some sustenance from the wide array of tropical fruits. The hotels in the capital offer European-style fare at European prices.

Café e Companhia. The expat hangout in Sao Tome. This is THE place to let people know you have arrived in country. Café and Companhia is popularly known as “MJs”, after the owner and former manager Maria João. MJ leases the business to a new German manager but makes appearances when she is in country. C & C is known for Thursday night jazz and the “Atomic Penis”.

Sum Secreto. Standard grill fare, but they can handle large groups without a reservation. Service is generally very good, and the meat and fish are excellent. Nothing fancy, but the place is popular because it has that secret something.

Bigodes. Located near the airport, if you decide to wait for your flight here the airport will call to let you know when your flight is boarding. Good lunches and great view.

O Pirata. Located next to the Pestana Hotel, it is one of the few places open on Sunday morning, but one suspects they just party through Saturday night. Good place to nurse a cup of coffee and an omelet and just watch the ocean. A sunken ship is right off the restaurant…hence the name “The Pirate”.

Roça São João dos Angolares. Make reservations as far in advance as possible, but it is worth it. Gourmet meals served as a multiple course prix fixe are worth the extra workout you will need.

Drink

Beer is readily available everywhere, though São Toméans are not known as big drinkers. Local brands include Creolla and Rosema. Inland, palm wine is available very inexpensively from vendors along the road. In the capital, whiskey and other spirits are popular among the elites. Wine, especially Portuguese vinho verde, is popular with fish dishes.

Sleep

A small handful of hotels exist in the capital. Near the town of Santana lies an idyllic bed and breakfast with stunning views. Opulent resorts have been built at the very northern and southern extremes of the country, on the small island of Ilheu das Rolas, and at Ilha Bom Bom off the coast of Principe.

In the main city of Sao Tome several small pousadas (B&Bs) can be found. There are three main hotels in the city.

Pestana. The brand new Pestana Hotel is advertised as the only five-star hotel in the capital, and could comfortably be described as a high four-star. The hotel is owned by the Pestana hotel chain from Lisbon. Most rooms have a great view of the ocean, and a full breakfast is included. Good restaurant, great bar, a decent gym and two infinity pools.

[3]

Agosto Neto. This hotel could be described as either a large B&B or a small boutique hotel. This quiet hotel is on a side street a couple of blocks from the Presidential Palace. The hotel is relatively new, spotlessly clean, and will open the kitchen upon request. Full breakfast is included. Internet access in the lobby, and the desk TRIES to speak English.

[4]

Miramar. The grand dame of Sao Tome hotels, this place has seen better days. In its heyday you could sit in the lobby and anyone that was important would walk past. The hotel has open wi-fi, so lots of local people still come by. A bit overpriced for what you get. The neighboring Pestana Hotel bought out the elderly German owner last year and is rumored to be converting the Miramar to a conference center.

[5]

  • The Obo national park [6] is a national reserve in the south-west part of the country. Local guides offer trips with bird-watching, observation of marine turtle nesting and ascension of Monte Pico.
  • Fort São Sebastião. The fort was built in 1575 and is now the São Tomé National Museum. The US Government donated money and services to refurbish the fort back in 2006, and now for a small fee anyone can be escorted around the Fort by a trained guide. The Fort has a working lighthouse and consecrated chapel, and is absolutely beautiful at night. The Fort is flanked by statues of three famous Portuguese explorers that nobody seems to remember.
  • Boca do Inferno Blowhole. A blowhole is a cavity formed in the ground at the inland end of a sea cave. When waves enter the mouth of the cave they will be funneled up towards the blowhole, which can become quite spectacular if the geometry and state of the weather is appropriate. The Boca do Inferno (Mouth of Hell) blowhole is spectacular at any time of the day but especially dramatic at high tide and during a full moon. Go with a good camera for dramatic shots. Just go past the VOA and coffee plantation, and take a left at the second basket stall.
  • Cascada Sao Nicolau. Drive up to Trindad and pass Café Monte. Bear left and keep going until the road washes out. In the middle of the jungle is a 100 foot high spring-fed waterfall named after Saint Nicolas. Absolutely beautiful and romantic. Pay no attention to the young couples lingering…
  • Roças. Café Monte in Trindad and Sao Joao dos Angolares are two well known and easily accessible roças. Café Monte has a new coffee museum set to open, and since it is in the mountains is cool and inviting. Sao Joao dos Angolares is run by a local art shop owner; the food served in the excellent restaurant is grown on the premises. Art and knicknacks are available for sale.
  • City market. Ah, to experience public life in Sao Tome. See, hear and…smell quotidian life. Just look for the yellow taxis in front of the recently-built City Market to experience the average Saotomense shopping experience. The taxi cabs are a experience in themselves, and are so numerous they have been photographed from space.
  • National Cathedral. Sao Tome has lots of churches, all of which are worth visiting. However, the National Cathedral adjacent to the Presidential Palace is the largest in the country and is beautiful and peaceful inside. It also has a sign as you enter: “You don’t need a cell phone to talk to God here. Please turn it off.”

Do

The waters around Sao Tome are clear and rich with life. Consequently, diving, fishing and boat tours provide much to see. One of the few operators that offers these activities is Club Maxel [7].

Walk Around. Traffic is light, the sea breeze is cooling, and you can admire the architecture and people. The capitol city of Sao Tome is replete with public art. Painting and carvings by local artists, in addition to old Portuguse statues, can be found throughout the city. Often times you will walk down the street and turna corner come up suddenly against a colorful and sprightly paintng right in front of you.

Shopping is limited, but there are a few things worth purchasing, and possibly of export quality:

Claudio Corallo Chocolate. Tours of his chocolate factory are give on request. He or one of his sons will gleefully describes the shocking inferior stuff that passes for chocolate around the world. Claudio maintains complete control of the chocolate making process, from growing the pods on his own plantation on Principe through to packaging the chocolate in his own vacuum-sealed clean rooms. He gives copious free samples during the demonstration, and sells all his products right there in the demonstration room. Expensive but worth it.

Coffee. Sao Tome was famous for its coffee. The quality suffered a bit after the newly-independent Sao Tome government broke up the old rocas into sharecropper lots, but given the quality of the volcanic soil the coffee was still great. There has been a recent surge in interest in Sao Tome coffee, mostly due to Claudio Corrallo’s work, but you can walk into any shop in Sao Tome and get great coffee cheap.

Rum. Sao Tome has two rum factories within an easy trip: Gravana, which is sold out of a car repair shop next to the Central Market, and Me-Zochi which is in Trindad behind the church. Prices of a one liter bottle of rum vary from USD 3 – 7 depending on the price of sugar. Gravana rum is dark and sweet, and is best served over ice and savored like a scotch. Me-Zochi rum is also good, but the factory also sells different types of liqueurs made from local fruits. Most of their product is shipped to Europe.

Baskets. Baskets are part and parcel of everyday life in Sao Tome. Therefore they are plentiful and cheap. They are not fancy but have their charm.

Miscellaneous Tourist Stuff. Ossobbo is across from the Fort Sao Sebastiao. The shop features local artisans and products of Sao Tome, from coffee, chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla to carvings, t-shirts and thumb drives. Prices are reasonable, but the best part is the shop is run by the non-profit Sisters of Misericordia; all profits go to the craftsmen or charitable works.

Stay safe

Safety is not an issue in São Tomé and Príncipe, though the roadway traffic is hazardous as in other parts of Africa. Violent crime in public is almost unheard of. However, with an increase in tourism there has been an increase in crime against tourists. Road blocks near Santana have been reported, as well as scams targetting tourists in the main city.

Stay healthy

Malaria is extremely common and sometimes lethal, making malaria prophelaxis, bed netting, and mosquito repellent essential for the traveller. Water must be boiled before drinking, or purchased and consumed from bottles.

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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Wikipedia

Contents

English

Proper noun

Singular
São Tomé and Príncipe

Plural
-

São Tomé and Príncipe

  1. Island nation off the western equatorial coast of Africa. Official name: Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe.

Translations

See also


Simple English

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