São Tomé and Principe

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts on the What’s the Answer? post concerning the Steubenville, Ohio rape case.  I will think on your comments and then post a follow-up.  I think it’s an important topic and appreciate the conversation.

Tonight is a lite-post night.  It’s back to the blank world map for another geography lesson courtesy of WOAW.  Tonight, we travel to Africa to a nation made of an island duo . . . São Tomé and Principe.

You won’t be shocked to learn that I’ve never heard of these little islands, which are situated in the Gulf of Guinea off the western coast of Central Africa. With a population of a bit over 180,000, the islands comprise the second-smallest African nation  (Does anyone know the smallest African nation?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Answer at bottom of post- right side up because I couldn’t figure out how to do an upside-down answer).  Settled by the Portuguese on the feast day of St. Thomas sometime around 1470, São Tomé and Principe is the smallest Portuguese-speaking country in the world. Here’s a map:

And another:

The island of São Tomé is about 30 miles long and 20 miles wide; Principe about 20 miles long and only four miles wide. The equator lies immediately south of São Tomé. In fact, there’s a small islet south of São Tomé, called Ilheu das Rolas, that houses this neat monument that physically points out the equator:

Equator Monument

Despite being on the equator, temperatures aren’t outrageous. In the mountainous regions of São Tomé, with peaks reaching over 6500 feet, the temperature averages around 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Near the sea, the climate is described as hot and humid, however, temperatures rarely stray from the 80 degree Fahrenheit mark. Meanwhile, in New Jersey we experience hot and humid summers in the 90-95 range, so there you go.

What’s there to do in São Tomé and Principe, you ask?

Well, obviously there are beaches. Look how pretty:

The Coast

Lovely !

Tourism is just gearing up in those parts.  Penning themselves as “a well kept secret,” the tourism website, www.saotomeislands.com, lists these water-related activities to enjoy: fantastic beaches (the best in the region); big fishing (marlin and sailfish); whale watching (majestic whales); and scuba diving (warm and clear waters, and lots of sea turtles).

Step away from the ocean and explore Obo Natural Park, an example of the biodiversity of the islands. The Park “offers dramatic landscapes with torrents and waterfalls on its slopes, luxuriant mountains which culminates in Pico de São Tomé, sheer cliffs over the sea, as well as primary rainforests filled with exotic birds and lush vegetation.” Bird watching is listed as a popular activity, with over 143 species having been sighted on the islands.

Obo Natural Park

The Pico Cao Grande (Great Dog Peak) is a landmark volcanic plug peak located in southern São Tomé. [Note: A volcanic plug is “a landform created when magma hardens within a vent of an active volcano.” Remember Close Encounters of the Third Kind back in 1977? That movie featured Devils Tower, Wyoming, suggested by some scientists to be a volcanic plug.] Here’s a pic of Pico Cao Grande:

Pico Cao Grande

With its rich, Portuguese history, São Tomé and Principe offers an interesting combination of African and Portuguese culture in music (the islands “are known for ussua and socope rhythms while Principe is home to the dexa beat”), architecture (“colonial Portuguese architecture”), and dances (“Tchiloli,” a musical dance that tells a dramatic story, and the similar “danco-congo”).

Well? What do you think, Blogtropolis? First, the Isle of Man, and now São Tomé and Principe. To me, the world is looking more and more awesomesauce with each discovery.

Thanks for reading! Here are additional pics:  Oh!  And the smallest country in Africa is . . . (drumroll, please) . . . Seychelles!

Sao Tome Palace

Castle

[Sources:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sao_tome_and_principe;  (Info on Devils Tower, Wyoming), http://www.nps.gov/ deto/naturescience/geologicformations.htm; (Volcanic Plugs), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volcanic_plug; (Map 1)  http://southcarolina1670.files.wordpress.com /2011/07/sao_tome_principe_800.jpg; (Map 2) http://www.worldatlas.com /webimage/countrys/africa/stnewzz.gif; (Equator) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia /commons/8/82/ Equator_Sao_Tome.jpg; (Beach 1) http://saotome.org/wp-content/uploads/saotomefoto.jpg;  (Beach 2) http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-169IXwXtdnE/UOYFi9AeTdI/AAAAAAAAWOo/ hbhicgsLW3g/s1600/sao-tome-and-principe-beach.jpg; (Pico Cao Grande) http://upload.wikimedia.org/ wikipedia/commons/d/de/São_Tomé_-_Pico_Cão_Grande.jpg; (Palace) http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons /thumb/0/0d/Sao_tome_palace.jpg/250px-Sao_tome_palace.jpg; (Coast) http://www.journeymart.com/de/CountryImages/sao-tome-bay.jpg; (Castle) http://www.africas-eden.com/MediaFiles //Image/SaoTome-Principe/ for%20photo%20highlight /principe1.jpg]

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