São Tomé / Príncipe: nature

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). Príncipe is approximately 30 kilometers (19 miles) long and 6 kilometers (4 miles) wide. Its highest peak reaches 948 meters ( 3,110 feet). In addition to being the second smallest African country, it is also the smallest Portuguese speaking country.

Once-active volcanoes

The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe are situated in the Atlantic Ocean about 300 and 250 kilometers (200 and 150 miles), respectively, off the northwest coast of Gabon. Both islands, also known as Guinea Islands, lie on an alignment of once-active volcanoes. The equator lies immediately south of São Tomé.

High levels of endemism

The geographic isolation from Africa has resulted in high levels of endemism, notably among plants (130 species) and birds (28 species). Overall, Sao Tome and Principe has 895 species of plants, 143 birds, 15 mammals, 14 reptiles, and 9 amphibians.

44% primary rainforest

About 28 percent of the country is forested, of which 44 percent is classified as primary forest. Most of this remaining forest is found in the most inaccessible parts of the country. There are over 150 type of tree ferns on the islands, more than anywhere else in Africa. Also, coconut palms reach down to the fringes of the beaches, almond trees and bread fruit trees line the town streets, and banana, cocoa and sugar cane plantations are plentiful.

Orchids

Orchids are the most important among the spontaneous plants on the islands. Up to now, 129 orchid species have been identified: 101 on Sao Tome, and 64 on Principe. The rainy season is the best time for orchid spotting, but species above 800m are still in flower in January.

Source: Bradt Travel Guide São Tomé & Príncipe, July 2008

Sao Tome Weaver

climate

Liparis

Nature

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).

Wildlife

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.

Climate

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.

People

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.