Sao Tome and Principe is a country made up of two main islands and several rocky islets in central Africa. The smaller islands are Rôlas, Caroço, Pedras, and Tinhosas. The population speaks Portuguese and they have an agricultural-based economy.
Keep reading for more facts about this archipelago.
Sao Tome and Principe facts
1. Sao Tome and Principe are two islands that are part of an inactive volcanic range
Sao Tome and Principe is a country located in the Gulf of Guinea, on the west coast of Africa. They are two large islands that are part of an inactive volcanic range. They are situated 140 kilometers apart from each other. The country is also formed by smaller islands called Rôlas, Caroço, Pedras, and Tinhosas. All of the archipelagoes were created as a result of volcanic activity that is extinct, a fun fact about Sao Tome and Principe.
2. They achieved their independence from Portugal in 1975
The country was founded by Portuguese in 1470. When they arrived, they discovered that the land was occupied by aboriginals. They finally gained independence from Portugal on July 12, 1975.
Sao Tome and Principe allowed for the first time multi-party elections in 1990 as a democracy. After this, political parties were formed. The next year, they held their first multi-party election. Since then, they have held elections regularly.
3. Saint Thomas was the inspiration for the name of the island of Sao Tome
When the Portuguese arrived in what is known today as Sao Tome, it was Saint Thomas’ day. For this reason, they decided to name the island after him. The name of the island is not the only thing that remains in Portuguese. This country’s official language is Portuguese, and it is one of the few countries in Africa that speak this language.
4. It was one of the first countries in Africa to adopt democracy
An interesting fact about Sao Tome and Principe is that it was one of the first countries in Africa to adopt a democratic system. They were the first in the continent to have a multi-party democracy in 1990 after they changed their Constitution.
The first democratic elections in Sao Tome were transparent, non-violent and fair, which is unusual for the majority of the African countries. This political stability has persisted until the present time. It has also allowed for foreign investment to arrive, which has boosted the country’s economy.
5. This is the second-smallest African country
When it comes to population, Sao Tome and Principe is the second-smallest country in the African continent. A fun fact about Sao Tome and Principe is that the combined population between the two larger islands is 196,548 people. 96% of them live on the largest island, Sao Tome.
Regarding its territory, the nation occupies place 172, compared to the rest of the countries in the world. The island of Sao Tome is 854 square kilometers and Principe is 136 square kilometers in size.
6. Cocoa is their main crop
The main crop of the island of Sao Tome is cocoa, and it represents 95% of what they export. They began cultivating it in 1908 and still continue to do so. They also export copra, coffee and palm kernels. The main destinations for their products are Great Britain, the Netherlands and Belgium.
However, the country’s economy has been changing. The goal is not to depend exclusively on cocoa. Near the coast there is petroleum, so the country has decided to invest in the development of the oil industry.
7. Before cocoa, they produced sugar
During the 17th century, Sao Tome and Principe cultivated and produced sugar. These plantations were worked by slaves, mostly of Jewish origins. When coffee and cocoa were introduced in the 19th century, they stopped producing sugar.
8. You can find very large species living in Sao Tome and Principe
Sao Tome and Principe has very interesting biodiversity. There, you will find the world’s smallest ibis. You can also find the world’s largest sunbird, a fun Sao Tome and Principe fact. There are also other giant species of Begonia that live in this region.
For people who love nature, this country is a great place to explore. The jungles are the best place to see some of the many species and plants that live here.
9. The jungles have no dangerous animals
In the jungles of Sao Tome and Principe, you will not find dangerous animals. There are no tigers, lions, snakes or spiders. This is very different from mainland Africa where many deadly animals roam.
Mosquitoes can be fatal if they are infected with malaria. Therefore, everyone who visits this country needs to be careful of getting bit by a mosquito.
10. Sao Tome and Principe’s highest point rises up to 2,000 meters
The highest point in Sao Tome is São Tomé Peak, which is 2,024 meters above sea level. In Principe, there is Príncipe Peak which reaches up to 948 meters. From these and other mountains, rivers flow and reach the sea. You will also find The Obô National Park, an Atlantic rain forest that covers 30% of the country. It is also filled with rivers and waterfalls.
A very interesting natural formation in The Obô is Pico Cão Grande. It is a volcanic plug peak shaped like a needle. It reaches 370 meters above the terrain that surrounds it and the summit is 668 meters above sea level. This plug was formed when magma solidified in the vent of an active volcano. However, the mountain range where it belonged does not exist anymore.
11. Almost 30% of Sao Tome and Principe’s territory consists of natural parks
Apart from The Obô, there is IUCN national park on the island of Principe. Both these natural places cover up almost 30% of the country’s territory. The first one covers 235 square kilometers and the second one, 65 square kilometers.
Sao Tome and Principe may seem insignificant because of its size and small population. However, it is a country rich in agricultural products, oil and natural diversity that not only locals enjoy, but also tourists.
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