• Population: 169,000 (UN, 2005)
  • Capital: Sao Tome
  • Area: 1,001 sq km (386 sq miles)
  • Major language: Portuguese
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 62 years (men), 64 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 dobra = 100 centimos


Backpacking in Sao Tome & Principe

The Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe maybe mostly famous for their chocolate produce, and nowadays, that’s enough to put a nation on the map. But as Africa’s second smallest nation, its popularity is near?c>jBF6???k?
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????5??e health services. Malaria is a deadly reality in this HIV-negative nation, and the lack of equipment and specialty doctors like cardiologist renders this place a risky endeavour for elderly and unwell guests. But this is a haven for many foreigners in search of a new life, and looking around, it’s no trifle to know why. “Leve-leve”, the mantra of the region means to suggest how things are taken here, nice, slow and easy.



BA_Sao Tome & Principe

Sao Tome and Principe (1 00 N, 7 00 E) are mainly two small islands and a few minor islets at just about the 0 degrees latitude and longitude which is the intersection of the Equator and the Prime Meridian. At collectively 964 km2, it is the second smallest country in the African continent. Both the islands are mountainous and volcanic as they form part of a chain of extinct volcanoes at the Cameroon volcanic mountain line. The highest point is the Pico de Sao Tome at a height of 2,024m above sea level.


The south of Sao Tome lies immediately north of the equator, hence, its tropical climate with wet and dry seasons. Chiefly, the weather is too hot and humid for an individual from, say London with mean temperatures of around 27 °C, although within that, there is a variety of unbelievable micro-climates to be experienced. The rainy season is from October to May. Again, this also depends on the altitude and topography as some regions may experience rain and storm out of season.



The Sao Tomean population is about 212,679 of late from various ethnic backgrounds. Modern ethnic classifications are the Mestiços, Angolares, Forros, Servicais/Tongas, Asians and European, primarily Portuguese. All in all, the Sao Tomeans are humble, generous, and warm towards visitors, regardless of who they are or where their ancestors came from.



The Sao Tomeans are a Portuguese-speaking nation, thus, officially, the language is PORTUGUESE in Sao Tome and Principe spoken by over 95% of the total population. From this, CREOLE languages that are Portuguese-based are spoken by a significant 85%, while minor populations speak ANGOLAR (3%) and PRINCIPENSE (0.1%). FRENCH is taught as a foreign language in these parts, as is ENGLISH, but do not expect the local population to speak well in these langue.



Here in Sao Tome and Principe, there exists freedom of speech and expression. The predominant faith is Christianity with over 90% of the population adherent. Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Adventist are the major religious denominations of Christianity in ST&P. The remainder of the population report to having no religious membership, without consequence as there exists a high regard for human rights in religion as well as politics.



This is just one out of the many reasons foreigners (mostly Europeans) find Sao Tome and Principe a sort of haven, a Neverland that enchants them to stay for good and for the best. The islands are absolutely pleasant as it teems with that famous Portuguese flavour, and with the people’s “leve-leve” rhythms, time drags so slowly, so wonderfully. The colonial Portuguese architecture in Sao Tome screams pulsating Latin vibe while the attractive parks and Sao Tomean tropical jungles show the wild spectrum of fauna that inhabit the once-active volcanic island. In the island that constitutes 90% of the countries surface area, the exotic birds alone are more than sufficient an attraction for hikers. At times, no matter how great the diving, swimming, and snorkelling are in the Lagoa Azul or in Ilhéu das Rolas, these fun pursuits could be sinful indulgences with the immense deforestation brought about by tourism.

Thus, many head to Principe for more exotic adventures, at times skipping the capital ST all throughout. That is because Principe may be the lesser island in size, but not in terms of beauty. It is a perfectly diverse location with virtually no tourism. Paradise found, most say, with pristine rainforests, charming road-side scenery, and black/white–sand beaches, the experience heightened by the discomfort of pot-holed dirt roads-nothing can be more authentic than this. Principe is famed and celebrated for the excitement it renders for fishing big game that is so exhilarating as to be renowned to big game fishermen from Texas itching for the experience. Ilheu Bom Bom, just off Principe’s northern coast, offers stirring deep-sea fishing. The incredible abandoned cacao and coffee plantations are a wraithlike encounter, versus the thriving plantations in ST like Agua Izé, Monté Café, Ribeira Peixe and Agostinho Neto, the largest in the country.



The islands, volcanic as they are, add the crazy equatorial coordinates, are ridiculously but pleasurably fun places to get a tan, be burnt, and oddly, be stuffed. The traveller can just chill at the Banana Beach and stare out into the clear-waters while the Sao Tomean food all goes down. Seafood is the Sao Tomean cuisine specialty, of course! Sea snails, barracuda, and other fiesta-size fish too much to eat in one sitting, are hot and fresh served and cooked every single day. Hot, spicy, and grilled is just ultimate here. No clue as to the rationale behind the harmony of grilled foodstuff with the beach.

But after a dive or swim, be it chicken to tuna, grilled meats is the only exotically satisfying way to cook and eat food. Food is cheap too, even when there are but around 20 tourists every week. Some of course stay for weeks, whereas others have been here for decades. Perhaps, it’s all the chocolate which, besides the fresh tropical fruits and Portuguese desserts, has to be the prime dessert in the island. Feasting on food here is an irresistible idea, but watch out for mosquitoes which have the same mentality. At the end of a Sao Tomean say, the traveller will only be glad to have brought lots of cash, and mosquito repellent.


Backpacking in Sao Tome & Principe

Backpacking Addictz looks at Backpacking in Sao Tome & Principe

Joshua Boorman

Joshua Boorman

Founder & Editor in Chief at Backpacking Addictz
Come with me on a journey with me to various destinations throughout the world. We discuss all things Backpacking, Lifestyle Design & Online Business to help you achieve new found freedom and create a life of meaningful fulfillment.
Joshua Boorman

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