São Tomé / Príncipe: code of ethics

On São Tomé and Príncipe, the people are in general very friendly and relaxed, but manners and etiquette are important to them.

Amongst the inhabitants of São Tomé and Príncipe, greeting a person and inquiring about his or her health and family is essential in social encounters. Recognizing and paying deference to the status of a person is important. Older men and women tend to be treated with great respect, particularly if they have many children and grandchildren. Entry into a person’s home or garden is a privilege, and acquaintances often converse in the road or across a garden hedge rather than enter a house or yard.

However, as a visitor on the island, the people of São Tomé and Príncipe are unlikely to be offended if you do not approach them in this manner. If you speak a bit of Portuguese, it will be appreciated and enhance the experience, but even with hands and feet, you will be able to have a great time. One thing that is always good to say is: ‘muito lindo’ (‘very nice’) when they ask you what you think about their country.

Source: Bradt Travel Guide, July 2008

São Tomé people 3

São Tomé people 4


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.