Location & Weather

About São Tomé & Príncipe

Access

The only airport in São Tomé with international service is São Tomé International Airport, located 5 km from the city center.  Currently the only international connections are via Lisbon (Portugal), Accra (Ghana), Luanda (Angola), Libreville (Gabon) and Douala (Cameroon).

For intercontinental flights TAP Portugal via Lisbon is the best choice. Currently they have just 3 flights a week, Thursday, Saturday and Tuesday (www.flytap.com)

The final hotel is on the island of “Ilhéu das Rolas”.  It takes about 20-30 minutes by boat and about 2 hours drive back to the city of São Tomé, where you could take your international flight.

Land Area

The total land area of the country is 1,001km2. The largest island of São Tomé is 854 km2, which is slightly larger than New York City, or Singapore.  The population of the islands is about 208,000. 

History

São Tomé and Príncipe in the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of Gabon.  It is the second smallest country in African , after Seychelles.  The islands were uninhabited until Portuguese explorers discovered it in the 15th century.  The first settlers found that the volcanic soils on the islands and the proximity to the equator were good for the cultivation of sugarcanes.  After the islands lost its competitiveness to Brazil and other new world sugar producers, the islands became a transit and trading port for slaves.  Until the 19th century, when coffee and cocoa were introduced into the islands, the economy was revived.  São Tomé and Príncipe became independent from Portugal on 12 July 1975. 

Many plantation owners left their elegantly built plantations and infrastructure during the country’s turmoil years in the beginning of the 20th century.  The abandoned houses and infrastructures become some of the main tourist sites on the island. 

Climate

São Tomé has relatively little rainfall but constant temperature.  It has a tropical climate with wet season (October to December and March to May) and a short dry season (June to September and January/February). 

In February, the island is usually sunny, partly cloudy, however, there is not much rain (dry season).  The humidity is usually around 70%.  The average temperature is usually between 25 °C (80 °F) and 30 °C (86 °F).

Vaccination

Upon arrival you will have to show documents(yellow vaccination card) that proves that you have received vaccination against Yellow fever. You also should protect yourself against Malaria.

Population

The population of the islands is about 208,000 (2018). 

Religion

The majority are Roman Catholic

Economy

The major industry in the country is agriculture and tourism.  Cocoa and coffee are major exports in the country.  Recently, offshore oil reserved had been discovered and the government has plans to extract it.

As for tourism, the country boasts unspoiled nature, waterfalls, endemic bird species, and many beautiful beaches.  

Places of Interests

Roça Agostinho Neto (*Camp 1)

The largest (3,380ha) on São Tomé.  Originally called Rio do Ouro, “River of gold” and was a major producer of Cocoa.  It was re-named after the first Angolan president in 1979 to celebrate his military, political, and financial supports to São Tomé.  It was built in typical Portuguese colonial style.  It mainly produced cocoa.  The large, pink hospital standing in the center of the plantation was once the largest and best hospital in the region. 

Monte Café (*Camp 2)

It used to be the largest coffee producer in the island with a mostly intact (in appearance) factory still erecting in the center of the town.  Now, it boasts a coffee museum and some small café where one could try the local coffee.

Boca d’Inferno (*Camp 3)

“Hell’s Mouth” - a natural tourist attraction where one could see water striking through the black volcanic rocks. 

Pico Cao Grande (*near Camp 4)

It is one of the most unusual sightings in the island.  The dramatic 668m needle-shaped volcanic plug in the south of Sao Tome is buried in the clouds most time of the year.  Imagine the magnitude of the active volcano at the time when it vented out the hot liquid that later solidified into the Pico Cao Grande. 

Equator Line on Ilhéu das Rolas (*finish line)

The imaginary line that divides the Earth into North and South.  Literally, one could make a photo with half of his/her body in the north and the other in the south.  The Equator line is about 40,000km long crossing 13 countries. 

At the Equator line one could also have a panoramic view of the island that surrounded by numerous coconut trees and beautiful natural beaches with fine sands and crystal blue water. 

Language

The official language of the country is Portuguese.  Several variations of Creole are widely spoken.  In addition, as there were many Angolan settlers, you would also find many locals speaking French.

Food

Many Santomeans boast that one would not die of hunger on the island, which is not an understatement.  The volcanic soil and the climate of the islands are good for crop growing – you always see wild banana trees, breadfruit trees, jackfruit trees, Papaya tees and many other crops in the jungles.  The main sources of carbohydrates are fried bananas, rice, and breadfruits.  The cooking is influenced by Portuguese, African, and Creole.  Spices such as chili and lime are common.  In addition, fishes and octopus are main sources of food for the locals. 

Capital

São Tomé City

Currency

Dobra

Please note that in 2018 the dobra was redenominated at a rate of 1000 to 1, and given the new ISO 4217 currency code STN.

Telephone

Country code: +239

Visa

Please check the Visa requirements for your country at:

evisa.st/do-i-need-a-visa-for-the-sao-tome-and-principe.html