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Africa

 Jewel of

The African continent is comprised of 54 nations, each with its own independent government and sovereignty, GDP, culture, natural resources, language(s), military, and religion. The treasure trove of mineral and raw material wealth has scarcely been touched and the continent's largely untapped fertile lands could feed the world. Herewith is Jewel of Africa, an interactive adventure in the cradle of mankind, an exploration of nations from A-Z in alphabetical order.

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São Tomé and Principe: Volcanically enriched

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São Tomé and Príncipe, officially the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, is an island nation in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Africa comprised of two islands, São Tomé and Príncipe, both part of an extinct volcanic mountain range. São Tomé, was named after Saint Thomas by Portuguese explorers who encountered the island on his feast day.

 

Early settlers found the volcanic soil suitable for agriculture. Initially only sugarcane was grown, but later coffee and cocoa on large plantations, using slave labor imported from the African mainland. Cocoa remains the country's most important crop.

Upon achieving independence from Portugal in 1975, São Tomé and Príncipe adopted a single-party, Marxist model until economic necessity forced the government to liberalize. A multiparty system was adopted in 1990, along with economic liberalization, needed to attract investors and donors. Sao Tome is optimistic about the development of petroleum resources in its territorial waters in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea, which [s being jointly developed with Nigeria. São Tomé and

Príncipe is the second smallest populated  African country. It is also the smallest Portuguese-speaking country.

Geography

The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, situated in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 and 150 miles, respectively, off the northwest coast of Gabon, constitute Africa's smallest country. Both are part of the Cameroon volcanic mountain line, also known as the Guinea line, which is a flaw in the African tectonic plate that has served as a channel for magma for millions of years, giving rise to major oceanic and continental topographic features extending from southwest to northeast. These include, in addition to São Tomé and Principe, the islands of Annobón to the southwest and Bioko to the northeast (both part of Equatorial Guinea), Mt. Cameroon on the African west coast, the various ranges of the Cameroon Highlands, and the Jos Plateau of Nigeria. Principe is geologi- cally older than São Tomé.

São Tomé is 31 miles long and 20 miles wide and the more mountainous of the two islands. Its highest peak is 6,640 feet. Príncipe is about 19 miles long and 4 miles wide. Swift streams radiating down the mountains through lush forest and cropland to the sea cross both islands. The capital, also named São Tomé, is siyuated here. The country is one-third the size of the state of Rhode Island. The equator lies immediately south of São Tomé Island, passing near the islet, Ilhéu das Rolas.

Climate

At sea level, the climate is hot and humid with average temperatures hovering at 80 degrees Fahrenheit. At the higher altitudes in the interior, the average temperature is 68 degrees. Nights are generally cool. Annual rainfall varies from 200 inches on the southwestern slopes to 40 inches in the northern lowlands. The rainy season runs from October to May.

Flora and fauna

The Obô, an Atlantic rain forest of high altitude, covers about 30 percent of the country and is crossed by rivers and waterfalls. In 1988 scientists classified the forests of Sao Tomé and Principe as the second most important in terms of biological interest of the 75 forested regions in Africa. The Obô contains the fauna and flora that gave Sao Tomé and Principe this classification.

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São Tomé is the capital and largest city of the Central African island country of São Tomé and Príncipe. Its name is Portuguese for "Saint Thomas." Founded in the 15th century, it is one of Africa's oldest colonial cities. The population of this multiculturally rich archipelago is 227,679 people, a 1.92 percent  increase from 2020. 

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Álvaro Caminha founded the colony of São Tomé in 1493. The Portuguese came to São Tomé in search of land togrow cane. The island was uninhabited before the arrival of the Portuguese some- time around 1470. São Tomé, situated about 25 miles north of the equator, had a climate wet enough to grow sugarcane in wild abundance. The nearby African Kingdom of Kongo even- tually became a source of slave labor as well. The island of São Tomé was the main center of sugar production in the 16th century; it was overtaken by Brazil by 1600. São Tomé is cen- tered on a 16th century cathe- dral that was largely rebuilt in the 19th century. Another early building is Fort São Sebastião, built in 1566 and now the São Tomé National Museum

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São Tomé and Principe is the least visited of the 54 African nations, which may be due to its proximity to mainland Africa. The archipelago is a wealth of splendor—gorgeous golden-sand beaches, rare sea turtles, and beautiful mountain towns, as well as the soaring spires of volcanic mountains, rare monkeys.

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São Tomé and Principe's quiet shadowy places that permit the intrusion of light by invitation only, are a cool retreat from the outter sanctum of the golden light, but reserves a place of praise of its own for the archipelago's sacred grandeur. 

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The Pico Cão Grande (Portuguese for "Great Dog Peak") is a landmark needle-shaped volcanic plug peak in São Tomé and Príncipe, in the Caué District of São Tomé Island in Parque Natural Obô de São Tomé. It is  2,175 feet above sea level. The volcanic plug was formed by magma solidifying in the vent of an active volcano. The plug is quite a recent phenomenon, having formed as part of the Cameroon line of volcanoes roughly three and a half million years ago in the Pliocene Era. phonolite, also known as clinkstone. The nearest village is Vila Clotilde, 1.8 miles distance due east.

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Thrift and hard work may advance the economic status of small farmers, traders, and fishers, but their low status gives these people little access to credit. Decades of economic stagnation and the fact that most resources are funneled through the state restrict people's opportunities to achieve social and economic mobility. Workers on the plantations are the most marginal citizens in social and economic terms. Three types of conjugal union are common: the Christian mon- ogamous marriage, the co-residential customary union, and the visit- ing relationship. Christian marriage is largely confined to the educated

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elite and has the highest social prestige. Among members of evangelical Christian churches and the elite, formal marriage is an accepted institution, but men often maintain conjugal relations with other women and support multiple households. Most couples live in co-residential customary unions.

Typically, women and men have several partners over the course of their adult lives and have children by different partners. In plantation households, marriages are less stable, with women maintaining visiting relations with a series of men. The visiting relationship is the most common form of conjugal union for Forro and tonga females. females. Polygyny is not accepted but has been known to occur in rural areas. In all forms of conjugal unions, the father and husband are expected to contribute to the expenses of the wife and child.

Housing

Indigenous architecture consists of wooden houses raised on stilts that are surrounded by small patches of garden (kintéh). Most people in urban or rural spaces live in these small houses. There is no coordinated plan other than the continual subdivision of house plots as families grow and access to land in urban areas decreases. People on plantations are housed in large cement barracks and houses known as sanzalas above which loom the spacious houses of the plantation administrators.

Cuisine

The cuisine is based on tropical root crops, plantains, and bananas, with fish as the most common source of pro- tein. The vegetables consist of gathered indigenous greens that are cooked in red palm oil. Production of food- stuffs is inadequate as a result of the islands' history as a plantation economy. Traditional palm oil stews are the national dish. The traditional food includes fruit bats and monkey meat. New World fruits such as papaya and as papayas and guavas are abundant. Citrus trees can be found in most yards. Since colonial times, the country's reliance on food from abroad has begun to change the food culture. Imported rice and bread made of imported wheat flour are staple foods of urban dwellers.

Generally people eat a hot meal cooked before sunset. Breakfast consists of reheated food from the night before or tea and bread. People generally eat around the hearth, which in most dwellings is a separate structure made of wood or fronds.

Jarrette Fellows, Jr. / Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License