It is probably quite safe to say there are few countries in the world you haven’t heard of, and even fewer where you have never heard of the currency they use either. We think we may have found one for you here though, in the shape of Sao Tome and Principe. This country uses the dobra as its official currency. You can find out more about both the country and its currency right here.
The dobra is in theory made up of centimos, although these are no longer in use. Inflation rendered them worthless and centimos have not been used in some time now. You will find a variety of dobras used in Sao Tome and Principe. In terms of coins you will find five options, valued at 100, 250, 500, 1,000 and 2,000 dobra coins. You can also use banknotes valued at 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 dobras apiece.
The plural for dobra is dobras and this is recognised by the letters Db when writing down any amount in the currency.
The escudo was previously used in Sao Tome and Principe. However in 1977 the escudo was consigned to history and the islands started using the dobra instead. Another notable date in the calendar for the islands was in 2009. This was the time when the islands formally linked the dobra with the euro. The exchange rate between the two is now fixed. At the time of writing this was 24,500 dobras for every one euro.
It probably won’t come as a huge surprise to learn that Sao Tome and Principe’s currency is not that easy to get hold of. At least this is the case prior to visiting the islands. However since the currency is linked with the euro, it is much easier to get hold of that before you go and exchange it once you get there.
You should go prepared as well if you are planning on taking a holiday here. There are some very good reasons for this. Firstly the islands don’t have any cash machines. This means you have to have whatever cash you need prior to visiting the islands. So, take euros with you and exchange those in the banks on the islands. The other currency you might want to take if it suits you better is the US dollar. These are the best two currencies. You don’t want to take anything else as you could end up with problems exchanging it.
You can take traveller’s cheques with you, but again, make sure you get them denominated in one of those two currencies. They won’t be the easiest things to exchange but some banks will exchange them, as will hotels. It might be best to do your research before you book your holiday. Make sure you book into a hotel that is happy to exchange your traveller’s cheques as and when required. If you book into one that doesn’t provide this service it gives you a real headache – and one that could be problematic for you. Why create an additional problem when choosing your hotel wisely could make a major difference?
Finally you can sometimes pay with Mastercard or Visa, but you can never be 100% sure of this. A lot could depend on where you are and the type of business or service you are using. The larger venues may take cards but never assume this is the case. It is always best to ask first.
You can do this by using a good currency converter. We say ‘good’ because you need to find one that provides you with all manner of lesser-known currencies to choose from. Some of the more basic ones only offer the most popular currencies to select, and you can bet the dobra won’t be among them. You really need one that offers all world currencies to be able to find it. Just look up STD as this is the ISO code used to distinguish this currency from all the others. It should locate it quickly if it is there to find in the first place.
You may not know much about this part of the world prior to considering going there. However you can get the latest travel information by going direct to the UK government website. This is well worth doing because they have a page dedicated to Sao Tome and Principe that will reveal all the latest travel advice. You can see it at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/sao-tome-and-principe.
For the most part this part of the world is pretty safe to go to. There shouldn’t be any real problems in terms of crime although (as with anywhere in the world) things can happen. The main advice is the same as you would have anywhere and that is to make sure you are very careful with your valuables. If you leave them unattended someone might make the most of the opportunity to snatch them.
If you book into a hotel you should make sure it offers you a safe for your own use in your room. This can be a good place to keep any valuables you have that you don’t need to carry around with you. Since there are no cash machines and you cannot rely on making card payments all the time, there is a good chance you will have a fair amount of cash with you one way or the other. Access to a good sturdy safe that is bolted down in your hotel room should ensure you only carry around what you need to at any time.
Well we now know more about the currency Sao Tome and Principe use, but we have yet to find out where this nation actually is. In answer, you will find it located at the Gulf of Guinea. It is not far from Central Africa and yet the people living there speak Portuguese! This might seem a little confusing until you learn the islands were once ruled over by Portugal.
There are two main islands – Sao Tome being one and Principe being the other. Sao Tome is the larger of the two but they both have several much smaller islands dotted around them.
The capital of the island nation is actually Sao Tome itself. A little over 50,000 or so people live in Sao Tome, accounting for much of the overall population. This is not a city though – rather, it is a town. It can be found in the top right-hand corner of the island.
One of the highlights in Sao Tome is its museum. Here you can learn much about the history of the islands and their Portuguese rule. Indeed, while the islands have been independent for some years now, you can see plenty of evidence of the Portuguese in the architecture here.
Elsewhere you might like to visit Obo National Park. This is also on Sao Tome and offers a chance to experience all kinds of surroundings including mountainous regions and also a savannah. If you love walking you will certainly find plenty of paths and opportunities to try. There are paths that are quite casual and easy for everyone to try, and more demanding treks that are only suitable for experienced and very fit walkers. The Pico de Sao Tome is perhaps the biggest challenge, requiring a stay in a tent partway up the mountain and plenty of strength and determination in order to complete it.
If you prefer something a little more relaxed, why not go in for some whale watching? This is best enjoyed from July right through to October, and while there is no guarantee you will see anything, you can find a nice beach to spend the day at while you watch for any signs of whales (and perhaps even dolphins) in the sea beyond.
Sao Tome and Principe will not be well-known to many people. However you can find some great opportunities to see the natural sides of the islands while you stay here. With activities including walking, climbing, hiking, swimming and diving on offer, most people can find something they would love to do here. Of course you may simply want to sit back and relax and enjoy some time on the beaches the islands can offer you, and that is perfectly fine as well.
With the opportunity to enjoy some great pastimes and also the chance to top up your tan, Sao Tome and Principe offers a different type of holiday to the ones you might have been used to. Why not consider a trip there soon?