Sao Tome and Principe Overview

Sao Tome and Principe Overview

Animals and Plants

What is growing in São Tomé and Príncipe?

The nature on São Tomé and Príncipe grows lush. Only in the northeast of São Tomé is the landscape dry savannah, otherwise tropical rainforest grows. Palm trees and cocoa plantations were sometimes planted in lower elevations. In the mountains, however, the rainforest is still largely natural. In addition to trees, many ferns also grow here. Two species of begonia are endemic to São Tomé.

Which animals live in São Tomé and Príncipe?

Overall, mammals only exist in a few species. São Tomé and Príncipe were never connected to the mainland and so only the mammals that made it here or were brought here by humans are here. These include rats, monkey cats and pigs. A mammal species is endemic, so it only occurs here. This is the São Tomé shrew. Whales and dolphins can be found in the sea around the islands.

Birds are far more numerous and even in several endemic species. In addition to the Newton shrike and the single-colored bullfinch, this also includes the dwarf olive ibis, the smallest ibis species in the world. There are 114 species of birds in total.

It is clearer with the amphibians. There are only seven species here and all of them are endemic. There are six frogs and one caecum.


Agriculture: cocoa and more

With independence in 1975, cocoa beans became the most important product for the small country. At that time, 90 percent of all income from exports, i.e. sales abroad, came from cocoa beans.

In total, agriculture generates 12 percent for São Tomé and Príncipe. In addition to cocoa beans, coffee, coconuts, bananas, cinnamon, pepper, papayas and beans are also grown. There is animal husbandry especially with poultry.

However, the country has to import most of the food. So what is grown is not enough for its own population.


There are oil deposits in the Gulf of Guinea and thus also around São Tomé and Príncipe. The country has signed an agreement with Nigeria that guarantees Nigeria 60 percent of the proceeds and São Tomé and Príncipe 40 percent of the proceeds. However, funding has not yet started.

Fishing, industry and tourism

The industry generates 15 percent for the country. There are factories here for shirts, soap, beer, palm oil, and fish and crabs. Because fishing is gaining in importance compared to cocoa. This also applies to tourism. There are holiday resorts especially on the small islands such as Rólas and Ilheu Bom Bom. Around 33,000 tourists come to the country every year.

Everyday life in São Tomé and Príncipe – leve-leve!

In São Tomé and Príncipe, 32 percent of the people live below the international poverty line. That means that you have less than $ 1.90 to live on a day. Food is often scarce, especially since a lot of food has to be imported because São Tomé mainly cultivates cocoa and sugar cane, which are then sold abroad. Vegetables in particular are often in short supply.

By the way, anyone who goes shopping pays with Dobra. And what are the names of the people? They often have Portuguese names, because São Tomé and Príncipe was Portuguese for a long time and Portuguese is also the official language. That is why men are called Carlos or João, women Maria or Fernanda, for example. By the way, the islanders’ motto is: leve-leve. That means: take it easy!

What do you eat in Sao Tome and Principe?

Fish, beans, corn, rice and plantains are staple foods in Sao Tome and Principe, a country located in Africa according to computerannals. There are also tropical fruits such as pineapples, bananas, papayas, mangoes, breadfruit and avocados. For breakfast there is often leftovers from the day before. Corn and coconut also taste great together for breakfast. People also like omelettes. Poultry is the most popular meat.

What is Calulu?

One also likes to eat Calulu. You need smoked fish, preferably perch, and prawns. Together with tomatoes, okra pods, onions and aubergines, they make a delicious stew. Grains of Paradise are particularly important as a spice. They give a piquant, spicy taste. In São Tomé they are called Ossame.

Sonhos de Banana

The cuisine in São Tomé and Príncipe is influenced by Portuguese cuisine, as the islands have long been a colony of Portugal. There are also many similarities to Brazil’s cuisine, which was also Portuguese. Sonhos de Banana is such a dish that you can also find in Brazil. It is a sweet dessert made from bananas that are fried in a batter.

Sao Tome and Principe Overview