Sao Tome and Principe is a twin-island nation found on the equatorial west coast of Africa. The country consists of two archipelagos about 140 kilometers apart. Principe is the closest island to the mainland Africa and it is 225 kilometers off the northwestern coast of Gabon.
It is one of Africa’s least visited countries, but offers a lot to explore. In fact it was chosen by Lonely Planet as one of the top destinations to visit in 2019. Do you want to know more about this little island nation?
Interesting facts about Sao tome and Principe
1. Sao Tome and Principe is the second-smallest African country.
2. The country was founded by Portuguese in 1470. The island of Sao Tome was named after Saint Thomas by the Portuguese explorers as they arrived here on Saint Thomas’ day. Sao Tome gained independence in 1975. Principe became autonomous in 1995.
3. Both the islands are part of Cameroon volcanic mountain line. They were created as a result of volcanic activity that is extinct.
4. It was one of the first countries in Africa to adopt democracy. The first elections were held in 1991 which were transparent and fair, a little unusual and rare in the African continent. The elections are still held without any chaos and violence which is a major feat for the country.
5. The islands of Sao Tome and Principe are home to a large number of birds. You will find the world’s smallest ibis and the largest sunbird here. This is a bird watching paradise.
6. Coca is the main crop of the island nation and it represents 95% of the country’s export. It was once the world’s largest producer of cocoa.
7. The country comprises largely of populations with slave ancestry. Before Coca, Sao Tome was the leading producer and exporter of sugarcane during the 17th century. These plantations were worked by slaves, mostly of Jewish origins and their descendents now make up for the population of the country.
8. The islands are great for people who love nature. Almost 30% of Sao Tome and Principe’s territory is covered by rain forests. And unlike mainland Africa, there is no threat of large dangerous animals or poisonous snakes. The only thing you have to look out for is mosquitoes. Malarial infections are common here. So pick up that mosquito repellant and venture into the jungle!
9. The idyllic beach of Praia Jale in Principe is famous as it is a nesting site for green hawksbill and leatherback turtles. Between November and March, large populations of female turtles make their way to the beach to lay eggs.
Trip leader Sakshi’s Recommendations if you are visiting Sao Tome and Principe:
Obo National Park: This beautiful park covers almost 30% of the country. There are two areas in the park, one in Sao Tome and the other in Principe. It boasts of white and black sandy beaches and around 700 hundred species of Flora and Fauna. The best way to explore it is to trek through its amazing tropical scenery. You will find a variety of rare birds here.
You will also find a needle-shaped volcanic plug peak in the south of Sao Tome Island which was formed by magma solidifying in the vent of an active volcano.
Bom Bom Island: This small island, just off the northern coast of Principe is a tourist resort and one of the must visit places in the country. It gets a lot of tourists from July to October for the whale watching. Yes, the country is famous for its humback whale sighting.
Praia Banana: Both islands have spectacular beaches but if you have to pick one then Praia Banana in Principe will be it. This beach is famous as it once starred in a commercial for Bacardi Rum. Spend a perfect beach day snorkeling and swimming with the waves.
Cascata Sao Nicolau: If there is a waterfall on the island, you must find it. And once you are here, the splashing water will make you believe that the destination is worth the travel. The waterfall feels like as if it is gushing right out of the wall of the jungle. Truly magical!