STP is a commonly used acronym for São Tomé and Príncipe, a Democratic Republic and Portuguese speaking island nation in the Sea of Guinea off the cost of Africa. The coordinates are nearly the intersection between the equator and Prime Meridian at 0°20′N and 6°44′E.

São Tomé and Príncipe
São Tomé and Príncipe

At sea level, the climate is tropical—hot and humid with average yearly temperatures of about 27°C (80°F) and little daily variation. At the interior’s higher altitudes, the average yearly temperature is 20°C (68°F), and nights are generally cool. The rainy season runs from October to May. I’m here during the dry season.

The islands were formed from volcanoes and were uninhabited until 1470 when it was discovered by the Portuguese and only gained independence in 1975, for better or for worse. The country of just over 140 thousand people is poor and underdeveloped.

Downtown São Tomé

Downtown São Tomé

Since the late 1980’s various international programs, along with local government projects, have dedicated huge resources and funding to improve the agriculture, economy and standard of living. Nonetheless, it is hard to see much evidence of the effectiveness of these programs, considering the enormous amounts of money spent, and witnessing the current poverty, lack of real development and likely high degree of corruption. With 10’s of millions of dollars spent by international organizations such as the IMF, United Nations, World Bank, African Development Bank, the United States, Portugal and Taiwan… add to that 100’s of millions coming from petroleum deals made in 2004, one has to wonder why 140 thousand people would still be so poor. Draw your own conclusions.

But those sad realities are only part of what I’ve discovered about this country. The country is extremely safe and the people very friendly. It is also an ocean paradise of sorts with beautiful blue seas, sandy beaches bordered by large black volcanic rocks and freshwater steams running down from volcanic mountain ridges in the interior.

Morning fishermen out to sea

Morning fishermen out to sea

I’m spending the next several weeks here and will be sharing the sites and my discoveries of country and culture. Afterall, this blog is about fishing and my passion for everything that goes with fishing… and what else might you expect to find on an island in the middle of an ocean?

I’m sure you’ll enjoy seeing, as I have, the beauty and cultural equity that exist here despite the paucity of things that are easily gained and lost due to the existence or lack of financial equity. And of course, the fishing is fantastic.

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