People and Culture

People are genuinely friendly to strangers. From a tourist perspective this is clearly one of the few places in the world where he can meet - and become a real friend - with the locals.

About 137.500 people live in Sao Tome and 6,000 in Principe. All are descended from various groups that have migrated to the islands since 1485. It includes descendants of Angolan slaves who survived a 1540 shipwreck; descendants of freed slaves and indentured laborers from Angola, Mozambique, and Cape Verd; and Europeans (primarily Portuguese).

Sao Tome and Principe has a strong cultural legacy. In the capital city, the National Museum, located in 400-year-old Fort Sao Sebastiao, tells the island’s history. While Portuguese is the official language of Sao Tome, various creole dialects are also used. Forro is spoken throughout the country and Lunguyê is spoken on Principe. The population is estimated to be about 80% Catholic, 15% Protestant, 3% Muslim, and 2% atheist.

Sao Tomeans are known for ússua and socopé rhythms, while Principe is home to the dêxa beat. These African rhythms, and their associate dances, resonate with distinct influences from Portuguese ballroom music and dance. Tchiloli and Auto de Floripes are epic street theater performances that are authentic anachronisms from the colonial culture adapted to modern Africa. Auto de Floripes involves the entire population of Principe in the dramatic battle between Christians and Moors. The dança congo is similarly a combination of music, dance and theatre. Several theater companies perform in the capital and tour the provinces

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