São Tomé and Príncipe
The tiny state of Sao Tome and Principe has two volcanic islands, located 300 km from the West African coast, in the Gulf of Guinea. Sao Tome is a small mountainous island 50 km long and 32 km wide just off the equator, where nearly 165,000 people live. With 6,000 inhabitants, Principe is smaller and also wilder. These two islands are tropical paradises with palm-bordered white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters and unexplored jungles.
The lush forests and fertile plains are crossed by torrents of water rushed into the Atlantic Ocean. Impressive tree-ferns, hundreds of species of orchids and other epiphyte plants flourish in these forests, haven of thousands of butterflies and birds. The archipelago has two dry seasons, from January to February and from June to September, which are the best times to stay in these islands.
Former Portuguese colony, this little piece of the world also bears the delicious nickname of Chocolate Island. And for good reason, since the beginning of the twentieth century, Sao Tome and Principe is one of the world’s leading producers of cocoa. The people, engaging and smiling, are mixed between Portuguese and African population. The country is poor but has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa.
The cultural richness of the archipelago appears in the music, the dance and the theater which converge to a ceremony called Tchiloli (which is a mixture of theatre, music and dance)
Sao Tome and Principe is also a paradise for fishermen who fish blue marlin and sailfish. The archipelago is also a breeding ground for leatherbacks. The official language of Sao Tome and Principe is Portuguese. The inhabitants of the archipelago also speak forro, which is similar to Creole but differs from one island to another. French is the foreign language best spoken, well before English.
Transport and travel
The city of Sao Tome has an international airport which provides direct flights from Portugal and Gabon. Flights to Sao Tome and Principe are available from Paris with a stop to Lisbon. Four flights a week connect Sao Tome to Principe. Boat transportation is also possible between the two islands.
Things to do
The capital of the archipelago has a good number of restaurants. There are also several bars in Sao Tome which regularly organize musical evenings and two nightclubs (one is by the sea.)
Eating is a pleasure, every day renewed in São Tomé. The diversity of the products and the culture mix are the main characteristics of Santomean gastronomy. The Santomean habit of having fun and living well does the rest. The Santomean gastronomy is influenced by many cultures (Cape Verdean, Angolan, Brazilian, and Portuguese) and is adapted to the diversity of fruits, vegetables, spices and especially fish of the island.
Traditional dishes include Calulu, a meat or fish stew with rice and a sauce made from many local herbs and spices. Feijoada, of Brazilian inspiration is often present on the tables as well as the fish prepared in countless cooking styles (grilled, smoked, in sauce, with exotic spices)