Sao Tome is the capital of Sao Tome and Principe, two volcanic islands and some smaller islets some 150 miles off the coast of Gabon believed to have first been discovered by Portuguese explorers around 1470. The Portuguese settled the town of Sao Tome in 1485 as a port in Ana Chaves Bay in the north-east of the island however this first settlement proved to be unviable due to disease and lack of food to sustain the community. Further attempts at settlement proved more successful towards the end of the 15th century with many of these settlers being deemed expendable as undesirables' from Portugal including orphans, criminals and even Jewish children taken from their parents to be raised as Christians.
Despite a disregard as to whether they survived or not, they did so and started producing sugar in such quantities that by the end of the following century the island was the world's largest sugar producer. This was achieved not least because its proximity to the African coast made it an ideal source of cheap slave labour to man the sugar plantations. As the sugar trade declined facing fierce competition from Brazil and then the abolition of the slave trade damaged Sao Tome's economy further, Portugal introduced coffee and cocoa as new crops to stain the population.
Today the town of Sao Tome, with its population of around 53,300 (2021) remains the islands' largest population centre and retains its Portuguese architecture. With an international airport just a couple of miles north of the town, and a weekly ferry to Cape Verde, it's an ideal base to visit the 16th century Fort Sao Sebastiao (above) on Praca de Juventude built as a colonial fort and now the island's national museum exploring the town and island's history. Visitors can also take in the walkways along the sea front, the Presidential Palace, the sixteenth century cathedral, Fisherman's Church, Municipal Market and Independence Square.
Sao Tome Profile: Volunteer in Sao Tome and Principe
Sao Tome Profile: Sao Tome City Map
Sao Tome Profile: Sao Tome and Principe Child Sponsor
Sao Tome Profile: Sao Tome and Principe Profile
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