Sao Tome

Central African Island

Quick Facts


Sao Tome

Visa Requirements

Visa required

Languages spoken


Currency used

São Tomé and Príncipe dobra (STD)

About Sao Tome

The islands of Sao Tome and Principe were uninhabited when the Portuguese arrived in 1471. The original African inhabitants were slaves that ended up on the island because of a shipwreck. In 1515, the island had become a major slave depot and transshipment center until slavery was abolished in 1875. After the abolishing of slavery, a new contract system was introduced which brought people from other African countries to work on the plantations.

Sao Tome History
The history of the island is dominated by slavery and slave-worked plantations. After a lot of struggles with the Portuguese government, it finally gained independence in 1975. It is one of the first African countries in the 1990s to undergo successful democratic reforms and practice multiparty democracy.

The main island of Sao Tome has a population of about 200,000 while the smaller island of Principe has a population of about 7000. Portuguese is the official language and Creole is also spoken. Very few people speak English compared to French. The capital is called Sao Tome which has the international airport.

Unlike other African countries with very distinct ethnic groups, there is no one dominant group in Sao Tome because of the history of coming from different backgrounds and coming together because of slavery. Everything in the culture revolves around a compelling Portuguese Creole of LEVE LEVE which loosely translates as “take it easy” No one is in a hurry on both islands.

Featured Tours

22 Day West Africa Tour featuring Senegal, Gambia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Sao Tome, Togo and Benin.