São Tomé / Príncipe
The equatorial islands of São Tomé & Príncipe lie in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 200 kilometres off the west coast of Central Africa.
With a rich cultural heritage and good infrastructure, particularly in São Tomé, these islands form one of the smallest independent states in the world, located on an alignment of once-active volcanoes, with rugged landscaped, dense primary tropical forests, and beaches of black and white sand.
Amidst these lush surroundings, you will find many exotic plants and flowers – new orchid species are discovered here regularly – and birdwatchers can look out for 143 species of birds, of which 28 are endemic.
Kathleen Becker, author of Bradt Travel Guide São Tomé & Príncipe, published in July 2008: “These two islands have so much more to offer than their tiny size would suggest”
Discovered in 1470 by Portuguese navigators, this cone-shaped volcanic island that culminates in the 2,025-metre Pico de São Tomé offers dramatic landscapes of torrents and waterfalls, secluded beaches, sheer sea cliffs, tropical forest and extensive cacao plantations.
The tropical island of Príncipe lies north-east of São Tomé. It’s a place where dense rainforests teem with exotic birds, where whales sport playfully off unspoiled, deserted beaches, where crystal-clear waterfalls cascade into the azure blue ocean, and where the people are, above all, friendly and happy to meet you.
Príncipe’s extraordinary landscape, an irregular scattering of soaring volcanic peaks, is 70% covered by primary forest where up to 20% of trees, orchids and birds are said to be endemic. It has still been barely touched by the island’s 5,000 inhabitants or the outside world.
São Tomé and Príncipe is the second smallest African country – larger only than the Seychelles in terms of population. São Tomé is 50 kilometers (31 miles) long and 32 kilometers (20 miles) wide and the more mountainous of the two islands. Its highest peak reaches 2,024 meters (6,640 feet).
The geographic isolation from Africa has resulted in high levels of endemism. Overall, Sao Tome and Principe has 143 birds, 15 mammals, 14 reptiles, and 9 amphibians. The waters of Sao Tome and Principe are still largely unexplored. So far, 230 fish species have been distinguished of which many are endemic.
You can visit the islands of Sao Tome and Principe all year around. The climate is tropical with average yearly temperatures of about 27°C (80°F) and little daily variation. At the interior’s higher altitudes, the average yearly temperature is 20°C (68°F), and nights are generally cool.
São Tomé and Príncipe is a place with a rich cultural heritage where people are happy to meet you. The lack of tribal, ethnic or religious conflict adds to the friendly “leve leve” (as the locals say, “easy-easy”) atmosphere. The human history on São Tomé & Príncipe begins in 1470, when the Portuguese settlers came to the islands.