At sea level, the climate is tropicalâhot and humid with average yearly temperatures of about 27 Â°C 80.6 Â°F and little daily variation. The temperature rarely rises beyond32 Â°C 89.6 Â°F. At the interior's higher altitudes, the average yearly temperature is 20 Â°C 68 Â°F, and nights are generally cool. Annual rainfall varies from 5,000 mm 196.85 in on the southwestern slopes to 1,000 mm 39.37 in in the northern lowlands. The rainy season runs from October to May.
The equator lies immediately south of SÃ£o TomÃ© Island, passing through an islet named IlhÃ©u das Rolas.
This small poor island economy has become increasingly dependent on cocoa since independence 34 years ago. However, cocoa production has substantially declined because of drought and mismanagement. The resulting shortage of cocoa for export has created a persistent balance-of-payments problem. SÃ£o TomÃ© has to import all fuels, most manufactured goods, consumer goods, and a substantial amount of food. Over the years, it has been unable to service its foreign debt and has had to depend on concessional aid and debt rescheduling. SÃ£o TomÃ© benefited from $200 million in debt relief in December 2000 under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries HIPC program. SÃ£o TomÃ©'s success in implementing structural reforms has been rewarded by international donors, who have pledged increased assistance in 2001. Considerable potential exists for development of a tourist industry, and the government has taken steps to expand facilities in recent years. The government also has attempted to reduce price controls and subsidies. SÃ£o TomÃ© is also optimistic that substantial petroleum discoveries are forthcoming in its territorial waters in the oil-rich waters of the Gulf of Guinea. Corruption scandals continue to weaken the economy.