SAO TOME & PRINCIPE
(Democratic Republic of
São Tomé and Príncipe,
República Democrática de
São Tomé e Príncipe)
- Location: Gulf of Guinea (off the coast of Central Africa)
- Capital: São Tomé
- Language(s): Portuguese, Principense, Angolar
- Population: 165,324
- Total Area: 1,000 sq km
- Currency: Dobra
- Curious Alcohol Fact: There is an abundance of palm trees on the island and
- with proper guidance; you can tap your own palm wine.
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption Per Capita: 8.73 liters
- Most Popular Drink(s): Palm wine
The Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Principe is one of the few former Portuguese colonies on the continent (the others are Angola and Mozambique), and that explains the use of Portuguese as the official language. It is an island nation and is located in the Gulf of Guinea, not too far from nations like Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Unlike other archipelagos in like Seychelles with hundreds of islands, this nation has only to islands - São Tomé and Principe. There are some other islets but are not too important either politically or geographically. There are seven different districts in the country and I was able to visit five of them. Like many other islands around the globe, the islands were formed as a result of volcanic activity.
Most of the islanders are classified as Forros and these are the descendants of the Africans and Europeans (especially Portuguese) who migrated to and settled on the islands centuries ago. The most popular language on the islands is Portuguese, and there is a substantial number of people from Cape Verde who have settled on the islands. I find this quite interesting as Cape Verde is quite far (located off the northwestern coast of North Africa) and for the citizens to migrate all the way down to Gulf of Guinea is fantastic. Virtually all the Santomeans (yes, that is what the citizens are called) are Christians and they are mainly of the Roman Catholic denomination. Many of the islanders are into agriculture and thus, they contribute greatly to the national economy.
Feasting on the Islands
There is always something fascinating and spectacular about the islands I have visited. There is this aura of majesty and extraordinary nature and I had the same feeling while on the islands of São Tomé and Principe, especially when it was time to eat. As expected of an island, most of the meals were based on seafood, and the nice about these foods is that you get to take the fish fresh and well cooked. Beef is a rarity but you can always get chicken. For lunch, what most of us did was to go climbing trees to get ripe tropical fruits. There are various fruits on the islands and you will always be tempted to throw a stone at a coconut or a ripe and succulent orange.
On an island nation that is littered with palm trees everywhere, it is quite understandable that the most popular drink (apart from water, of course) is palm wine. Apart from the fact that there are many palm trees, consuming palm wine is more of the custom and tradition in many of the African countries I have visited. Thus, in many of the settlements on these islands, palm wine featured prominently at dinner –and at social ceremonies.
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