São Tomé, São Tomé & Principe
São Tomé seems to embody a kind of lush tropical paradise usually associated with the South Pacific. The atmosphere here is palpably luxury and it is an intoxicating blend of sunlight, sea, air and fantastically abundant vegetation.
São Tomé and Príncipe is a Portuguese-speaking island nation in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Africa. It consists of two islands: São Tomé and Príncipe, located about 87 miles (140 kilometres) apart and about 155 and 140 miles (250 and 225 kilometres), respectively, off the northwestern coast of Gabon. Both islands are part of an extinct volcanic mountain range.
São Tomé, the sizable southern island, is situated just north of the equator. It was named in honour of Saint Thomas by Portuguese explorers who happened to arrive at the island on his feast day.
São Toméan culture is a mixture of African and Portuguese influences. São Toméans are known for ússua and socopé rhythms, while Principe is home to the dêxa beat. Portuguese ballroom dancing may have played an integral part in the development of these rhythms and their associated dances.
Tchiloli is a musical dance performance that tells a dramatic story. The danço-congo is similarly a combination of music, dance and theatre.
Cornmeal, millet, rice, and hot stews, so common in the African diet, are mainstays in this region. The Portuguese influence is much in evidence, particularly in the use of wine. One such dish is Matata: clams cooked in port wine with finely chopped peanuts and tender young greens or fruits. A favourite dish of the interior is Frango a Calrial which means "Chicken, the African way." Chickens heavily rubbed down with Piri-piri are roasted over charcoals. There is also "Chicken, the Portuguese way," made with tomatoes and wine. Caril is the name for curries, also served very "hot" with Manga Achar, a special mango chutney that is one of the little dishes accompanying it. The other little dishes contain chopped peanuts, coconut, cucumber, bananas, etc. They are similar to the Chutneys (relishes) of India.
Fishing is a major industry. Fish and especially shellfish -lobster tails, shrimp, and prawns- are considered by many to be the most delicious in the world.
Coffees are among the finest grown anywhere, and tea from the region is of outstanding quality.
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