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São Tomé and Príncipe

Driving Directions São Tomé and Príncipe

SÁO TOMÉ AND PRÍNCIPE are volcanic islands that lie off the west coast of Africa. The islands were colonized in the 15th century by the Portuguese, who developed a slave trade, grew sugar cane, and set­tled convicts and other exiles on the islands.

São Tomé is covered in extinct volcanic cones reaching heights of 2,024 meters or 6,641 feet. The coastal areas are hot and humid. Príncipe is a craggy island lying to the northeast of Sáo Tomé.

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A barrier reef to the west forms a large lagoon dotted with islands. Coral forma­tions and marine life here are amongst the richest in the world.

The climate is tropical, with heavy rainfall from October to May.

Some 70 percent of the workforce work on the land, mainly in state-owned cacao plantations, which nationalized in 1975 after independence.

The other main agricultural products are coconuts, melons, copra, bananas, and melons. Since the crops grown are primarily for export, about 90 percent of the country’s food imported. Small manufacturing industries include food processing and timber products.

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São Tomé and Príncipe is part of a chain of extinct volcanoes. The two main islands are São Tomé (855 square kilometers/330 square miles) and Príncipe (109 square kilometers/42 square miles). The country also includes the tiny Ilhéu Bombom, Ilhéu Caroço, and Ilhéu das Rôlas. São Tomé and Príncipe’s landscape is mostly mountainous. Rainforest covers other large land areas, most of which give way to cloud forests at higher elevations. Most of the coastline is comprised of white sand beaches. Almost all of the population lives on the island of São Tomé. The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe are located on the African Tectonic Plate.

São Tomé and Príncipe are surrounded by the Gulf of Guinea, an extension of the Atlantic Ocean that lies along the West Africa coast.

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