São Tomé Travel Guide

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São Tomé

The two islands of São Tomé and Principé are a small independent republic close to the coast of W. Africa located in the Gulf of Guinea, W. of Gabon and right on the Equator.


São Tomé and Principé are not a well travelled tourist destination and so make a great spot for those seeking to get away from the more crowded places. São Tomé is a volcanic island and very beautiful with its volcanoes reaching through the clouds, its jungles and beautiful beaches. The island of Principé is not as mountainous but has even better and more deserted beaches. Other significant towns are Santo Antonio and Neves.


Portugal discovered and claimed the islands in the late fifteenth century. The economy was originally sugar-based which was then overtaken by production of coffee and cocoa, mostly using slave labour. It has been independent since 1975 but did not become democratic until about a decade later. There has been political instability with changes in leadership, and discovery of oil in the Gulf of Guinea may have future impact.


The official language is Portuguese and the majority of the population is Catholic. Most of the population comprises Africans with some Agolares – descendants of the Angolan slaves, and Portuguese. There are two Provinces, namely São Tomé and Principé . Be sure to check on health requirements and vaccinations needed before visiting.


São Tomé is one of the few tropical paradise places in the world not taken over by tourists. It boasts white sand, palm fringed beaches and clear water. The downside of the lack of tourists is the consequent lack of facilities and arranged activities for tourists, plus it is expensive. There are, however, a few less expensive hotels on the islands for those on a budget. Car and boat rentals can be arranged through some of the larger hotels.


Because of the present scarcity of tourists to these islands, the facilities for scuba diving are somewhat limited but can be arranged. Snorkelling fans will love it. For those wishing to explore the jungle areas, guides can be arranged for viewing the amazing array of orchids and other flora. It is also a great spot for birdwatchers.





São Tomé & Principe

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FCO Travel Advice: São Tomé & Principe

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