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S9Z Sao Tome

S9Z Team will be active from Sao Tome Island, IOTA AF - 023, Sao Tome and Principe, 11 - 20 November 2024.
They will operate on 160 - 6m, CW, SSB, Digital modes and EME on 432 mHz.
More information later.

São Tomé and Principe

The double name of the island-state of São Tomé and Principe hints at a double composition, and this is almost true! In reality, this smallest of African countries includes two more or less large main islands - São Tomé and Principe, and six other smaller ones.

The capital of the mini-state in the form of the city of São Tomé is located on the same island.

The distance between the two main islands is not small - 160 kilometers! The coasts of all the islands, located almost on the Equator (or rather - in the equatorial Atlantic), washed by the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Guinea. In figures, the distance of Sao Tome and Principe from the northwest coast of Gabon is 300 and 250 kilometers, respectively.

Together, the total land area of all the islands is exactly 1,001 square kilometers, and most of it is occupied by the island of São Tomé (measuring 48 kilometers long and 32 kilometers wide), which extends over 859 square kilometers. Of the 273 countries on the planet, São Tomé and Principe (measuring 6 by 16 kilometers) ranks a modest 197th in terms of land area.

Sao Tome Island, Sao Tome and Principe. Author - Susanne Jaros.

Geographical features of the tiny state of Africa

The coasts of the state, although very beautiful, are not the most hospitable. Almost completely the perimeter of absolutely all (i.e. 2 large and six tiny) islands resembles an obstacle course for the mythical Hercules. And how could it be otherwise, if the coastline is cut here and there, like a giant knife, by chasms and ravines, cutting unfriendly rocks and steep cliffs!

The extreme impregnability of the archipelagos is a consequence of their origin: the entire surface of São Tomé and Principe is made up of craters and cones of extinct volcanoes and the lava they spewed out, now solidified and very fertile. The islands, which are part of the Cameroon Line in the form of a long-extinct chain of volcanoes, commemorate the turbulent volcanic past with finger-shaped cliffs crowning the mountainous terrain.

The highest volcanic cone in the form of the eponymous peak "pierces" the sky of São Tomé, rushing up to 2024 meters. On the neighboring island, Principe, the mountain is lower more than twice as high - the height of Principe Peak is 821 meters.

What kind of country is this?

A democratic multiparty parliamentary republic. The head of state is a president elected by general elections for five years. The same person may not hold the highest state office for more than two consecutive terms.

The small size of São Tomé and Principe is not the only modesty of the state: it is the smallest Portuguese-speaking country in the world!

Democratization in the form of reforms came to the country not so long ago: in 1990, first the March 10 Constitution was adopted, and the opposition had the opportunity to become legal parties. A year later, the multi-party country was already freely choosing its ruler.

Protecting the country from threats from the "big world" are the armed forces numbering about eight hundred, consisting of four structures:

  • Presidential Guard;
  • the National Guard;
  • the Army;
  • the Coast Guard.

The small state made its small contribution to the Millennium, producing at its turn, in 1999, a famous coin-watch.

S9Z. Sao Tome Island, Sao Tome and Principe DX Pedition Logo.

A little history about the smallest Portuguese-speaking country in the world

The Portuguese language spoken on the islands is a legacy of their discovery by travelers from Portugal, who first saw the hostile shores of São Tomé and Principe with their own eyes around 1469 (1471). The Portuguese did not settle immediately: the first colonist was Alvaro Caminha in 1493, who was granted the land of São Tomé by the King of Portugal.

Principe began to be developed a little later, since 1500, as agrarian land. Fifty years later, so many slaves from Africa were brought here that Principe became the largest producer of cane sugar, generously supplied to all European markets.

Intensive farming led to severe soil depletion, and within a hundred years the cane crops had critically declined. By the 17th century, machetes were no longer pounding the once succulent trunks of sweet cane from morning to night. The islands had become mere moorings for passing ships.

But the volcanic land, which had become unsuitable for cane, was still remarkably fertile for other tropical crops! One hundred and fifty years later, by the early 19th century, coffee and cocoa were successfully grown on the islands. Enterprising farmers turned almost all of the land into plantations, which became the world's premier cocoa "fields".

"Twice Enslaved": fighting slavery and gaining independence

The title of São Tomé and Principe's patriotic anthem means "Total Independence" in Portuguese. Today, São Tomé and Principe has become one of 11 countries in Africa that is considered completely free, where human rights are respected. However, the state really had to suffer its internal and external independence.

The whole world was happy to consume amazingly tasty drinks - coffee and hot chocolate, without thinking that thousands of Africans brought there from Benin, Gabon and Congo worked hard to get the harvest from the lands of Sao Tome and Principe.

Yes, since 1876, there had been no slavery in Portugal. But in fact, Portuguese landowners brutally exploited hired laborers, who increasingly revolted against greedy planters.

The largest revolt occurred in 1953, causing the deaths of hundreds of forced black laborers. After 7 years the Liberation Committee was formed, which a couple of years later turned into the Movement for the Political Liberation of the Archipelago. National liberation movements gradually gained strength, so that on July 12, 1975 the archipelago finally received the long-awaited independence from Portugal.

Sao Tome Island, Sao Tome and Principe. Author - Steve Evans.

It is hot and humid - as Central Africa should be

In fact, the tropical maritime climate of the archipelago is expectedly very hot and "wet". During the year, the mercury thermometer shows an average of +27 °C (in winter, in July, it is cooler, and in summer, in January - the hottest - from +30 °C).

The season of tropical rains is cyclical and comes every year from October to May. At the same time, the two main islands are "watered" by rains unevenly: the most generous rains in the south-west - there falls about 5000 mm of rainwater. The lowlands in the north of Sao Tome receive five times less rainfall.

"A country of former slaves and their masters" - who lives on the islands

There are approximately 162,000 to 163,000 citizens living on the land of the eight islands, with their maximum concentration on the largest, São Tomé. The ethnic composition of the population is heterogeneous and is divided into six distinct groups. Two of these are descendants of historically free citizens:

  • Caucasoids, predominantly Portuguese;
  • Mestizo Creoles, the so-called "children of the soil," descended from mixed marriages between colonists from Portugal and slaves from Africa.

Two groups were free slaves who had become free:

  • From Angola, enslaved by a shipwreck in 1540 - today they are Angolares fishermen;
  • Forrush, descendants of the earliest slave laborers in the archipelago.

The remaining two populations are the working classes: the Serviçais contract laborers who came to work from Mozambique, Cape Verde and Angola, and the Tongas, those born to these contract laborers.

What unites "diverse" citizens: religion and language

Almost 81% of the population are Christians of Catalan and other denominations. The rest are atheists and non-believers.

Almost 95% of citizens communicate in the official language of the islands - Portuguese, the rest use based on it Lower Guinean Creole language with several local dialects. By the way, it is the main language of communication of all inhabitants of the archipelago, who prefer it to Portuguese.

S9Z. Where is Sao Tome Island located. Map.

S9Z Sao Tome. Sunrise 07-21-2024 at 05:34 GMT sunset at 17:45 GMT