Sao tome and principe

Sao Tome and Principe or officially known as the ‘Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe’ is a Portuguese speaking island nation in the Gulf of Guinea, off the Western coast of Central Africa. The two main islands are a part of a mountain range consisting of non-active volcanoes. The island of Sao Tome was named after Saint Thomas by the Portuguese explorers who arrived on the island during the Saint’s feast day. The islands were actually inhabited before the arrival of Portuguese around 1470 and was discovered by ‘Joao Santarem and Pedro Escobar’. The country functions under a multiple party system. Sao Tome is covered by dense mountainous jungle, which have been carved out for plantation. Principe consists of jagged mountains. The other islands in the republic are Pedras Tinhosas and Rolas. About 95% of the population lives in Sao Tome. Sao Tome is the capital and the largest city in this country. Sao Tome and Principe is the second-smallest African country and the smallest Portuguese-speaking country.

How are the climatic conditions in Sao Tome and Principe?

Sao Tome and Principe has a tropical climate comprising hot and humid conditions due to the influence of cold Benguela current as well as by the altitude. The dry season starts from June and lasts until September. The average temperature usually is about 27°C with a little daily variation and the temperature rises rarely beyond 32°C. The wet season starts from October and lasts until the month of May. The average rainfall varies from 500 mm on the southwest mountains slopes to 1,000 mm on the northern lowlands. At the interiors, the average temperature is 20°C and nights are generally cooler.

What is the staple diet of the people of Sao Tome and Principe?

The staple diet of the people in this country is based on tropical root crops, plantains and bananas, with fish as the most common source of protein. The cuisine tends to be very spicy; fish and chicken are marinated in a spicy sauce and grilled before consumption. The vegetables that are consumed consist of gathered indigenous greens that are basically cooked in red palm oil. Traditional palm oil stew is the national dish, and corn is eaten as a snack here by the people. The traditional food also consists of fruit bats and monkey meat. The country’s dependence on food from abroad has made a significant change in their food culture; rice and bread made up of wheat flour are now the staple food of the urban dwellers. Generally, people eat a hot meal before the sunset, and the breakfast consists of reheated food from the previous night. Omelette with herbs and dry fish is also very popular.

Monkey meat
What is the economic structure of Sao Tome and Principe?

Agriculture and small service industries are major sectors of the economy in Sao Tome and Principe. Fishing is potentially important among the coastal communities. Sao Tome and Principe has limited options due to high transportation costs, small markets and poor infrastructure and also due to lack of trained personnel and entrepreneurs. In recent years, the overseas development aid is the main source of income of the state. The small landholders in the country grow root crops, vegetables, plantains and bananas for local consumption and for revenue generation. Industries in Sao Tome and Principe virtually do not exist due to the poor infrastructure but a little contribution from industries like processing plant for food, beverages and soap is helping in the country’s economy. The country’s natural scenic beauty, safe and healthy environment have promoted the tourism and ecotourism sector. Investment by people in hotels and other tourist facilities have taken place in recent years. Traditionally, the plantation economy exported cocoa and coffee and imported rice, beans and fish to feed the plantation workers. However, over the years due to the high quality of cocoa grown here, it now accounts for 90% of foreign exchange earnings from its export. Export crops like coconuts, coffee and palm kernels are still grown on the plantations. Sao Tome and Principe’s major export partners are Netherlands, Germany and Portugal. The imports of the country include machinery, electrical equipments, petroleum products and food from its import partners Portugal, France and Angola.

How is the education system in Sao Tome and Principe?

The government of Sao Tome and Principe has not put education in its priority list as evidenced by limiting budget to allow compulsory education only up to the primary level. The government so far has not earmarked budgets for additional classrooms and educational materials. Overall, the people have not been able to understand the value of education, there is a high rate of failures, and the teaching staff remains underpaid creating a problem for teachers to craft their skills. Education has been made compulsory only until primary. For six years, parents save on education expenditures, as education is free and compulsory only until primary level. After graduation from primary school students can further proceed to secondary school which is then another six-year program. Only few of the students are lucky enough to step into colleges. Lack of proper educational planning, inadequate studying material, insufficiently trained teachers has given rise to dependence on foreign aid for improvement of education system here. Tertiary institutions in the country are National Lyceum and the Institute Superior Polytechnic which have a very small number of students enrolling every year.

Which are the festivals celebrated in Sao Tome and Principe?

Sao Tome and Principe has a rich and diverse culture but still there are not many festivals celebrated here. However, there are many public holidays such as Independence Day celebrated on 12th of July, this public holiday is filled with display of tradition and culture in many different cities, there are musical performances, dance shows and theatrical interpretations. International workers day or Labor Day is also celebrated on 1st May every year which marks the event by celebrating the historic International Labor movement. Every year on 26th November, Sao Tome celebrates the national holiday of Argel Accord day, prior to the nation being granted independence, the Argel Accords, which promised to grant sovereignty, were signed in Portugal. Everyone celebrates Christmas day on 25th December by going to the mass and later with enjoyment of feasts with friends and family.

Which are the unique animal species found in Sao Tome and Principe?

There is variety of different animal species found in Sao Tome and Principe. The only native animal to Sao Tome is the Sao Tome Shrew – a small mammal that scavenges around the forest and coastal areas of the country. Sao Tome Shrew is an endangered species due to the habitat loss and due to its size of natural range. Including Sao Tome Collared bat that feeds off fruits and nectar and is basically found in the forest or on the edges of the mountain, there are also many different species of bats found in the country. Sao Tome Free Tailed bat is a species of bat found here, mostly in the coastal area or human habituated area and it feeds on small insects. All the bird species found in Sao Tome and Principe are endangered. The smallest of them all is Sao Tome Ibis which is usually found in the forest regions scrounging the floor for food. Giant Sunbird is native bird species to this country, along with the resident songbird Sao Tome Fiscal. Around the sea during different time of the year, Blue Marlin and Yellow Fin Tuna can be seen. Besides this, there are four different species of turtles found too in this country nesting on the coastal area. Some of the popular ones amongst them are the Green Turtle and The Olive Ridley.

Blue Marlin

Giant Sunbird

Green Turtle

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