Floating in the Gulf of Guinea, this two-island nation, Africa's second-smallest, blends natural wonders with a gripping history. São Tomé & Príncipe (STP) is amazingly safe and welcoming to visitors, particularly ecotourists, for whom the advancing jungle is a delight. This is particularly true on tidy and unspoiled Príncipe, an island of just 7000 people. A canopy of green broken by spires of primordial rock, Príncipe is a magnificent Lost World, offering fantastic beaches, jungle exploration, snorkelling, fishing, birdwatching and a handful of interesting (if expensive) accommodations. While both islands have their natural rewards, Príncipe should not be missed.
The country's past hinges on its vast network of plantations and its role as the centre of global cocoa production. Since independence from Portugal in 1975, STP has suffered an economic collapse, leading to squatters inhabiting once great mansions in the countryside, and the slow decay of historic colonial buildings on broken streets.