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Sao Tome beach with local fishermen in boat

Facts to assist you while travelling to São Tomé.

 

São Tomé population

  • 231 856.

Capital and Largest City

  • São Tomé.

Official Language(s)

  • Portuguese.

Currency

  • The Dobra.

Office Hours

  • São Tomé follows the ILO regulation. This means that employees in São Tomé work an average of 8 hours a day, five days a week.

Weekend

  • Saturday – Sunday.

Time Zone

  • UTC.

Calling Code

  • +239.

Tipping

  • If a service charge is not included in the bill a tip of 10% is acceptable.

Embassies

  • Most countries are represented by embassies or consulates located in the capital city.

Government

  • Carlos Manuel Vila Nova is the current president of São Tomé. He has been in office since 2021.

Climate

  • The island of São Tomé, located in the Gulf of Guinea and near the Equator, has a warm tropical climate. The island is hot and humid throughout the year, with a slightly warmer period from January to April and a cooler period from June to August. The island is covered with beautiful forests and hills and experiences a dry season from June to September. The country receives most of its rain from April to May and experiences a second rainy period later in the year that lasts from October to November.

Transport

  • Transport in São Tomé is primarily dependent on road infrastructure for local needs, and airports and sea travel for all its international needs. The main airport in São Tomé is the São Tomé International Airport. There are seaports in São Tomé by Ana Chaves Bay, and another one in Neves.

Economy

  • Sugar plantations were set up under Portuguese colonial rule and the island was used for the transshipment of slaves. Since the 1800’s the country’s economy has been dependent on plantation and agriculture. The economy of São Tomé is still traditionally reliant on cocoa but is experiencing considerable changes due to the country’s investment in the development of its oil industry in the oil-rich waters of the Gulf of Guinea. The primary crop in São Tomé is cocoa, making up for about 95% of exports. Other export crops include copra, palm kernels, and coffee.

Hospitality

  • Etiquette plays an integral role in São Tomé. When meeting friends and acquaintances, it is important to greet them properly and ask how the person is doing. You may also ask about the person’s family. The elderly are treated with special respect and greeted first, especially if they have many children and grandchildren. In São Tomé being invited to someone’s home is a favour that is most commonly bestowed upon friends. Acquaintances often meet and make small talk outside on the street or by the fence to the garden.

Greetings

  • Due to its Portuguese influence, ‘’Olá’’ is the best choice of greeting for most social situations regardless of the person you are addressing or if it is a formal or informal setting. ‘’Hi” in Portuguese is ‘’Oi!’’, which is used when greeting friends and is very Informal. ‘’Tudo bem?’’ means ‘’How are you?’’ and is suitable for both formal and informal situations.

Money

  • The dobra is the official currency of São Tomé. It is abbreviated as ‘’Db’’ and is divided into 100 cêntimos. The first dobra (STD) was introduced in 1977, replacing the escudo at par. The name derives from Portuguese ‘’dobra’’, meaning “doubloon.

Transportation

  • Driving in São Tomé occurs on the right-hand side, and visitors will need an international driving permit to rent a car. Roads in São Tomé town are paved, but some are in poor condition. Main roads outside of town are paved but are in even worse condition, while secondary roads are often unpaved. Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and animals on the roads can be a major hazard especially at night when most roads are unlit.

Safety

  • São Tomé is a safe country with an amazing laid-back nature. Crime is not commonly experienced by visitors, but you should still take precautions by staying out of trouble and not making a target of yourself. Even petty crimes such as burglary and pickpocketing are infrequent and serious felonies such as armed robbery or rape, are unheard of. Same-sex relationships are not illegal in São Tomé, however LGBTQ travelers may face discrimination.

Culture

  • São Tomé is home to a population of around 231 million citizens. Their diverse population groups consist of the mestico, forros (descendants of freed slaves), servicals, and tongas (contract laborers from African countries and their descendants), Europeans, Asians. Portuguese is the official language and is the language spoken by 98.4% of the population. Other widely spoke languages in the country are Cabo Verdian, French, Forro, Angolar, and English. The vast majority of the population follow the Christian faith is the religion of the majority in the nation. São Tomé was once a very traditional country with defined gender roles for men and women. However, women are now employed in various fields like academics, healthcare, and other service-related industries. Women are also represented in politics, administration, and business.

Shops

  • São Tomé’s capital shopping centres and, in other areas that are developed, may also have major supermarkets, clothing stores, liquor stores, furniture, homeware, and electronic shops, in addition to local banks and ATMs.

 

 

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