Sao Tome and Principe (ST)

  • Land Sao Tome and Principe
  • Continent: Africa
  • Area: 1,001 km²
  • Population: 187,410
  • Capital city: São Tomé
  • ISO code: ST
  • National language: Portuguese
  • International dialing code: +239
  • Currency: Dobra
  • License plate number: STP
  • Alternative spelling: Santo Tomé y Príncipe, República Democrática de
  • Flight routes from Sao Tome and Principe: 70
  • Flight routes to Sao Tome and Principe: 129
  • Popular airports: Sao Tome (TMS), Principe Is. (PCP)
  • Large cities: São Tomé, Vista Alegre, Vila Verde, Vila Sara, Vila Rosa, Vila Moura, Vila Conceição, Val Carmo, Urzelina, Ubabudo, Uba, Triunfo, Trindade, Trás os Montes, Terra Firme
  • Airlines based in Sao Tome and Principe: STP Airways

Sao Tome and Principe travel guide (Africa)

São Tomé and Príncipe is a small West African island state in the gulf of Guinea. It is located about 300 km from the coast of Gabun and also has territory on the partly inhabited islands Cabras, Gago Coutinho, Pedras Tinhosas and Rolas on the latitude of the equator. Both main islands are of volcanic origin and belong to the extinct volcano massif also running through the islands of Madeira, the Canaries, the Cape Verde Islands and the Azores.

São Tomé and Príncipe is the second smallest country in Africa after the Seychelles and consist of a chain of extinct volcanoes with a very craggy landscape. The islands have extensive forests and coconut fringed beaches, representing a miniature version of Africa. Both islands were strongly influenced by the slave trade and there are large meanwhile nationalised plantations to be found everywhere, determining the landscape. The larger of the two islands is São Tomé, where almost 90% of the total population lives. The island is the more mountainous of the two and is also the site of the highest point: the 2,024 m high Pico de Sâo Tomé, surrounded by dense rainforest. On the island is the capital of the same name as well as the international airport. The smaller and almost rectangular island Principe is north east of Sâo Tomé, its bigger sister. The highest point the Pico de Principe only has an altitude of 927 m (3,041 ft). The ground here is very fertile and capable of producing two harvests a year, thereby fetching the majority of export revenues.  

Climate and best time to visit:
the climate is tropically hot and humid all year round. The island Republic is located on the inner tropical climate belt, characterised by very high air humidity of over 95 %, with highest average temperatures of over 35 ° C, the most pleasant time to travel on the islands is therefore between June and September, also as there is less rainfall at this time of the year and the air humidity reduces to 80 %. It can be said that there are no typical seasons on São Tomé and Príncipe, but only alternating wet and dry seasons.  

Language and communication:
the official and national language is Portuguese. The colloquial language of communication amongst the population is however a Creole mix of Portuguese and west African language elements. Knowledge of Portuguese is advantageous as there are very few English speaking tourists on the islands.  

Health and vaccinations:
vaccination against hepatitis A, typhoid, diphtheria, polio and tetanus is recommended. Long clothing should be worn to provide protection against mosquitoes and other insects, and a locally purchased insect repellent should also be used. There is a year round occurrence of malaria on the islands. Please seek advice from your GP or the Institute for Tropical Medicine on effective anti-malaria medication. All travellers over the age of one year must carry proof of a yellow fever vaccination as São Tomé and Príncipe are in an endemic yellow fever zone. Medical care is only of a sufficient standard on São Tomé. Visitors are advised to take out a comprehensive medical and travel insurance that covers repatriation costs. A first aid kit should be packed, only bottled water drunk and fruit and vegetables peeled or boiled before being eaten.

Entry requirements:
British national need visas to enter São Tomé and Principe and these should be obtained prior to travel. A valid yellow fever certificate is also needed. The nearest São Tomé Diplomatic Mission is in Brussels. Passports must be valid for the entire stay on the islands. Some countries ask for documentary evidence of parental responsibility before permitting single parents to enter or leave the country: further information may be obtained from the São Tomé Diplomatic Mission. More information on vaccination and entry requirements as well as current security issues is posted on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Website.

Arrival and onward journey:
currently non stop flights from Europe to São Tomé (TMS) are only provided by TAP Air Portugal (TP) from Lisbon (LIS). Nationally, the state airline TAAG Angola Airways (TG) and the private airline Air São Tomé and Príncipe (KY) have daily services between São Tomé and Príncipe (PCP). The flight duration is approximately 35 minutes.

Capital city:
the capital and harbour of the same name is on the north coast of Sâo Tomé and, with a population of 45,000, is also the hub of this traditionally very densely populated coastal strip. Sâo Tomé is a very lively and picturesque town with a Portuguese past that is evident in the architecture with every step taken in the city. The fortress, the cathedral, the national museum and the many small parks that are busy especially at midday are all worth seeing.  

Places of interest and beaches:
São Tomé and Príncipe are ideal for beach holidaymakers and have some breathtaking beaches on the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors will find turquoise shimmering water and palm fringed sandy beaches. Those interested in walking and hiking will find plenty of adventure on the two large islands. Many endemic animals may be seen on the paths around the islands. The whole of the interior is a true natural paradise with tropical rainforests that are populated by exotic birds. The many cocoa plantations on São Tomé are especially worth seeing and were also reason for the country being the most important cocoa exporter for Europe. Other attractions are the Boca Inferno, the waterfall of São Nicolãu and the Ilheu da Rolas, a small island off Porto Alegre, with, since 2001, well equipped diving facilities.

The sister island Principe is about 150 km further north and is significantly smaller. Worth seeing on Principe is the island’s capital Santo Antonio, the cocoa plantations and the Ilheu Bom Bom, a small island off the north coast. There are also good beaches and excellent coral reefs on Principe.

there is a majority of Christians: more than 90 %, there are also followers of the natural religions.

Major Cities and accommodation
: São Tomé, Santo Amaro, Neves, Santana and Trindade.