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São Tomé and Príncipe, officially the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, is an 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 140 kilometers apart and about 250 and 225 kilometers, 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 honor of Saint Thomas by Portuguese explorers who happened to arrive at the island on his feast day.
São Tomé and Príncipe is the second-smallest African country in terms of population; only the Seychelles are smaller. It is the smallest country in the world that is not a former British overseas territory, a former United States trusteeship, or one of the European microstates. It is also the smallest Portuguese-speaking country.
The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, situated in the equatorial Atlantic about 300 and 250 kilometers (200 and 150 miles), respectively, off the northwest coast of Gabon, constitute Africa's smallest country. Both are part of the Cameroon volcanic mountain line, which also includes the islands of Annobón to the southwest, Bioko to the northeast (both part of Equatorial Guinea), and Mount Cameroon on the African west coast.
São Tomé is 50 kilometers (31 miles) long and 32 kilometers (20 miles) wide and the more mountainous of the two islands. Its peaks reach 2,024 meters (6,640 feet). Príncipe is about 30 kilometers (19 miles) long and 6 kilometers (4 miles) wide. Swift streams radiating down the mountains through lush forest and cropland to the sea cross both islands.
At sea level, the climate is tropical, hot and humid with average yearly temperatures of about 27°C (80°F) and little daily variation. The temperature rarely rises beyond 32°C. At the interior's higher altitudes, the average yearly temperature is 20°C (68°F), and nights are generally cool. Annual rainfall varies from 5 m (200 inches) on the southwestern slopes to 1 m (40 in) in the northern lowlands. The rainy season runs from October to May.
The equator lies immediately south of São Tomé Island, passing through or near the islet named Ilhéu das Rolas.
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