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São Tomé and Príncipe: the islands of cocoa and coffee

São Tomé and Príncipe is an island nation of Equatorial Africa, ancient Portuguese colony since the XVth century, is formed by the two islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, located in the Gulf of Guinea near the Equator and far from each other about 140 km. The state capital is the city of São Tomé, which is located in the north-eastern part of the island bearing the same name.

Both islands are of volcanic origin and very mountainous. São Tomé with 854 sq km, the larger of the two, presents peaks exceeding 2,000 m, as the Pico de São Tomé with 2.024 meters the highest mountain in the country, which is located in the central west of the island. In the far south of São Tomé island is the islet of Ilhéu das Rolas, precisely crossed by the Equator.

The island of Príncipe with 136 sq km is the northernmost of the two. It has characteristics of a mountain formation. Its highest mountain is the Pico do Príncipe with 948 meters. The population of the island of Príncipe is about 7,000. The main town of the island is Santo António.

The two islands were discovered by Portuguese navigators in 1471. The islands were uninhabited at the time of their discovery. The Portuguese settled on São Tomé in 1493 under the command of Álvaro Caminha. The island of Príncipe was settled in 1500. The two islands became important producers of sugar cane and were at the center of the slave trade. In the nineteenth century São Tomé and Príncipe became important producers of cocoa and coffee.

English text correction by Dietrich Köster. 

  • Area: 1,001 sq km: arable land 57%, other 42%
  • Population: 157,000 (as of 2005)
  • State Capital: São Tomé.
  • Official Language: The official language is Portuguese. Portuguese Creole is spoken.
  • Religion: Christians 80%: Catholics 70% and Protestants 10%.
  • Currency: Dobra (STD)
  • Time Zone: UTC

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