Fun Facts: São Tomé and Príncipe

By Sherry Zhang

  1. The Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe is a country that consists of two island archipelagos off the coast of Central Africa and is one of Africa’s smallest and least well-known countries. 
  2. Portuguese is the official and national language spoken in São Tomé and Príncipe, due to the island’s long history of Portuguese settlement. Forro and Crioulo, dialects consisting of both Portuguese and African elements, are also spoken. 
  3. São Tomé and Príncipe achieved its independence from Portugal on July 12, 1975.
  4. The currency used in São Tomé and Príncipe is called dobra.
  5. Discovering the island on Saint Thomas’ feast day, the Portuguese named the island São Tomé after Saint Thomas. On the other hand, Príncipe (Prince’s) island was named in honor of Afonso, the Prince of Portugal. To note, before the settlement of the Portuguese, both islands were uninhabited. 
  6. More than half of the population in São Tomé and Príncipe are affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, which has close ties to the church in Portugal. 
  7. São Tomé and Príncipe are part of the Cameroonian volcanic mountain range; however, both islands have inactive volcanoes. 
  8. The islands are home to many different species of birds and plants, including the world’s largest sunbird,  smallest ibis, and giant begonias. Unlike many parts of Africa, the jungles of São Tomé and Príncipe do not have dangerous animals, such as tigers, lions, snakes, or spiders. 
  9. Cacao makes up 95% of São Tomé and Príncipe’s exports. Other exports include copra, palm kernels, and coffee.
  10. Before cacao exports, early wealth came from sugar plantations worked by slaves. Very little sugar is produced on the islands now.