Sao Tome and Principe, Land and Population
forros, mestico, Soil exhaustion, Bantu language, tongas
The islands are volcanic in origin, with mountainous interiors and fertile soils. The highest point is Pico de Sao Tome (2,024 m/6,640 ft) on Sao Tome. Lowlands flank the northeastern and southwestern coasts of the islands. The climate is tropical with virtually no seasonal temperature variations. The average annual temperature is 25°C (77°F) in the lowlands and about 18°C (65°F) in the highlands. The average annual rainfall varies greatly with elevation, from 5,100 mm (about 200 in) on the southwestern mountain slopes to 1,020 mm (about 40 in) in the northeastern lowlands. A dry season lasts from June to September.
The total population of Sao Tome and Principe was estimated at 170,372 in 2002. The capital and principal port is Sao Tome (population, 1990 estimate, 50,000), located on the northeastern coast of Sao Tome island. The population, descendants of peoples who came to the islands beginning in the late 1400s, is composed of six identifiable groups: mestico, or mixed-blood; angolares, descendants of Angolan slaves; forros, descendants of freed slaves; servicais, contract laborers from nearby African countries; tongas, children of servicais born on the islands; and Europeans, mostly from Portugal. Portuguese is the official language, but 90 percent of the people speak Fang, a Bantu language. Most of the people are Christian; 83 percent are Roman Catholic.
Uncontrolled logging is a continuing problem in the country’s primary forests. Soil exhaustion and erosion are additional problems.
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