Visiting Africa, then Think of São Tomé & Príncipe

Musafir By Musafir, 20th May 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>Africa>Gabon>Libreville & Around

Situated at Southwestern of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean, São Tomé is 300km whilst Príncipe 250km from the coast of Gabon. São Tomé & Príncipe is the second smallest independent state in the African continent in term of population (the first is Seychelles).

São Tomé & Príncipe, Africa

São Tomé & Príncipe

The independent state of Democratic Republic of São Tomé & Príncipe consists of 2 main islands: São Tomé (inclusive of the smaller surrounding islands: Rôlas and Cabras) and Príncipe (that includes the other smaller islands of Pedras Tinhosas, Caroço and Bom Bom). São Tomé is the main town and also function as the capital island.

Situated at Southwestern of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean, São Tomé is 300km whilst Príncipe 250km from the coast of Gabon. São Tomé & Príncipe is the second smallest independent state in the African continent in term of population (the first is Seychelles).

São Tomé & Príncipe is geographically made up of inactive volcanic range. São Tomé is the biggest between the 2 main islands: it’s 50km in total length and has a width of 32km. It is more mountaineous than Príncipe, which is smaller and only 30km long and 6km wide. The highest peak is at São Tomé with a height of 2,024m. On both islands though, swift streams run through the mountains and lustful forest, ending into the open ocean.

The Language & People of
São Tomé & Príncipe

Portuguese is the main language spoken on the islands though dialek Creole dialect is also used widely there; only a small fraction of its people speak English. 95% of the population reside on the island of São Tomé.

Almost 70% of the nation are Roman Catholic with a small fraction amongst the minority are Evangelical Protestant. The majority are Mesticos – the decendants of Europeans and African slaves from the mainlain of Benin, Gabon and Congo (and thus also known as filhos da terra which mean: "the indegineous children").

The Forros on the other hand, are decendants of the liberised African slaves during the end of the slavery era. There are European - Portuguese in particular - among the population residing on the islands there.

There are also the Servicais – the immigrant labourers from Angola, Mozambique dan Cape Verde who stayed temporarily on the islands. The children of the immigrant Servicais born on the islands are in turn known as Tongas.

Angolares are the decendants of the Angolan slaves saved from shipwrecks on the islands in 1540 which now are part of the minority fishermen of the islands.

The Early History of
São Tomé & Príncipe

The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe are historically discovered by Pedro Escobar and João Gomes, the early Portuguese seafarers of 1471. The island is named São Tomé or the English version “Saint Thomas” due to its discovery on St. Thomas’ Day.

The fisrt successful settlement in São Tomé was only establishedby Alvaro Caminha, who received the island as a grant from the Portuguese Crown in 1483, whilst Príncipe was settled in around 1500 with the same agreement with the Portuguese Crown. By mid 1500s century, the settlers from Portugal began importing large number of slaves, thus able to turn the islands into the main exporter of sugar.

In 1522, the administration of São Tomé was taken over the Portuguese Crown, whilst Príncipe was taken over in 1573. With that, São Tomé & Príncipe was absorbed to be part of the Portuguese colony, lasting from 1522 to 1641, when it was then occupied by the Dutch. But in 1740, the Portuguese once again managed to regain the islands from the Dutch.

In the early 18th century, the islands lost much of their economic influence and served only as stopover for ships sailing to and from Brazil and India.

São Tomé & Príncipe became the Portuguese oversea colony in 1951 and only gained autonomous rule in 1973. With the political overthrow of the then Portuguese government in 1974, the new Portuguese government recognised the liberation of the islands and granted them full independence on 12th July 1975. Manuel Pinto da Costawas elected as its first President.

Tourism in São Tomé
& Príncipe

Tourism facilities are sufficiently adequate on both main islands but proof of the yellow fever vacination is required too before anyone could be allow to visit the islands.

Getting in and out to the soverign islands required passport and visa. Visa are to be acquired much in advance as no visa are issued at the airport.

Tourists could acquire visa at São Tomé & Príncipe Office at: 400 Park Ave., 7th Floor, New York, NY 10022; or through telephone: (212) 317-0533 or (917) 751-2742; or fax at: (212) 317-0580 or (212) 239-2272. Visa and latest information entery could also be acquired through São Tomé and Príncipe oversea embassies or consulates in your neighbouring country or region.

Tourists coming to São Tomé & Príncipe from Gabon, Africa could also acquire visa and latest entry information at the São Tomé and Príncipe consulate to Gabon at the address: B.P. 49, Libreville, Gabon; or telephone number: (241) 72-15-27; or fax: (241) 72-15-28.

São Tomé & Príncipe can be reached by air: TAP Portugal (once a week from Lisbon Airport, Portugal); Air Luxor (twice a week, on every Fridays and Saturdays, also from Lisbon Airport); whilst TAAG Angola Airlines has its flight on every Sundays from Luanda, Angola to São Tomé. It also has flights from Cape Verde ke São Tomé, whereas Aero Contractors has its flight from Lagos, Nigeria on every Saturdays to São Tomé . And if you’re from Gabon, you could fly with Air São Tomé.

Dobra (STD) is the main currency of São Tomé & Príncipe but US dollars and Euros are exchangeable with the Dobras. The exchange rates are interesting should you use the brokers at the market square. Alternatively, you could choose to exchange for the Dobras through banks. There aren’t any ATM machines though several hotels do accept Visas and Masters.

Taxi are available there, and tourists who want to drive around themselves could also rent a “four-wheel-drive” jeeps which are appropriate in view of the unfavourable road conditions. Nevertheless, the roads are safe and the people are said to be opened and friendly.

Hotels and resorts are in abundance in São Tomé & Príncipe, especially on the island of Bom Bom, Príncipe. It provides all kind of activities such as hiking/trekking to the forest reserves, tour to the open sea watching the whales, deep sea fishing, diving and snorkelling. For those who prefer to relax and rest, Bom Bom Island Resort then provides you a spectacular panorama for resting.

Beside Bom Bom Island Resort, there are other hotels and resorts at São Tomé. One such resort is the Pestana Equador Island Resort which is on the island of Ilheu das Rolas, which is estimated about 60km from the capital island of São Tomé.

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Africa, Atlantic Ocean, Bom Bom, Caroo, Gabon, Pedras, Portugal, Rlas And Cabras, Seychelles, So Tom Prncipe, Tinhosas

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A traveller to a lesser known world!
Hail from Singapore, Musafir set sight to travel round the world, in particular to the lesser-known world.
Coincidentally his name "musafir" is a Malay word derived from Sanskrit that literally translated, mean...(more)

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