Sao Tome Day

21 Dec 2020  Mon

Sao Tome Day is celebrated on 21st December in the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe. It commemorates the discovery of the island of Sao Tome by Portuguese navigators around 1470.

The island of Sao Tome is located in the Gulf of Guinea. It was discovered by Pêro Escobar and Joao de Santarem sometime between 1469 and 1471. The explorers arrived at the island on the feast day of Thomas the Apostle, December 21, and named it Sao Tome (Saint Thomas) in honour of the saint.

In 1493, Alvaro Caminha established the first successful settlement of São Tomé. However, attracting settlers proved difficult, and most of the island's earliest inhabitants were Jews and other “undesirables” sent from Portugal. Subsequently, the Portuguese began to import slaves from the mainland to work on sugar plantations.

Sao Tome and Principe achieved its independence from Portugal in 1975. However, the islanders still celebrate the anniversary of the discovery of the island by the Portuguese. To honour the discovery and the discoverer, the Banco Nacional Ultramarino, issued a special banknote in the year 1964.

The banknote depicts Portrait of Portuguese Navigator Joao de Santarem on the obverse and Allegorical woman looking out at sailing ships on the reverse.

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