São Tomé and Príncipe
|Democratic Republic of
São Tomé and Príncipe
República Democrática de
São Tomé e Príncipe (Portuguese)
|Motto: "Unidade, Disciplina, Trabalho" (Portuguese)
"Unity, Discipline, Work"
|Anthem: Independência total
and largest city
| São Tomé
|Recognised regional languages||
|Government|| Democratic semi-presidential
|-||President||Manuel Pinto da Costa|
|-||Prime Minister||Gabriel Costa|
|-||from Portugal||12 July 1975|
|-||Total||1,001 km2 ( 183rd)
372 sq mi
|-||2011 estimate||183,176 ( 188th)|
|-||Density||169.1/km2 ( 69th)
|GDP ( PPP)||2012 estimate|
|GDP (nominal)||2012 estimate|
|HDI (2013)|| 0.525
low · 144th
|Currency|| Dobra (
|Time zone||UTC ( UTC+0)|
|Drives on the||right|
|ISO 3166 code||ST|
São Tomé and Príncipe ( / / SOW-tə-MAY-ən PRIN-si-pə or / / SOW-to-MAY-ən PRIN-si-pay; Portuguese pronunciation: [sɐ̃w̃ tuˈmɛ i ˈpɾĩsɨpɨ]) officially the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, is a Portuguese-speaking island nation in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa. It consists of two archipelagos around the two main islands: São Tomé and Príncipe, located about 140 kilometres (87 mi) apart and about 250 and 225 kilometres (155 and 140 mi), 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 honour of Saint Thomas by Portuguese explorers who arrived at the island on his feast day.
The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe were uninhabited before the arrival of the Portuguese sometime around 1470. The islands were discovered by João de Santarém and Pedro Escobar. Portuguese navigators explored the islands and decided that they would be good locations for bases to trade with the mainland.
The dates of discovery are sometimes given as December 21 ( St Thomas's Day), 1471 for São Tomé, and January 17 ( St Anthony's Day), 1472 for Príncipe, though other sources give different nearby years. Príncipe was initially named Santo Antão ("Saint Anthony"), changing its name in 1502 to Ilha do Príncipe ("Prince's Island"), in reference to the Prince of Portugal to whom duties on the island's sugar crop were paid.
The first successful settlement of São Tomé was established in 1493 by Álvaro Caminha, who received the land as a grant from the crown. Príncipe was settled in 1500 under a similar arrangement. Attracting settlers proved difficult, however, and most of the earliest inhabitants were "undesirables" sent from Portugal, mostly Jews. In time these settlers found the volcanic soil of the region suitable for agriculture, especially the growing of sugar.
The cultivation of sugar was a labor-intensive process and the Portuguese began to import large numbers of slaves from the mainland. By the mid-16th century the Portuguese settlers had turned the islands into Africa's foremost exporter of sugar. São Tomé and Príncipe were taken over and administered by the Portuguese crown in 1522 and 1573, respectively.
However, superior sugar colonies in the Western Hemisphere began to hurt the islands. The large slave population also proved difficult to control, with Portugal unable to invest many resources in the effort. Sugar cultivation thus declined over the next 100 years, and by the mid-17th century, the economy of São Tomé had changed. It was now primarily a transit point for ships engaged in the slave trade between the West and continental Africa.
In the early 19th century, two new cash crops, coffee and cocoa, were introduced. The rich volcanic soils proved well suited to the new cash crop industry, and soon extensive plantations (known as "roças"), owned by Portuguese companies or absentee landlords, occupied almost all of the good farmland. By 1908, São Tomé had become the world's largest producer of cocoa, which remains the country's most important crop.
The roças system, which gave the plantation managers a high degree of authority, led to abuses against the African farm workers. Although Portugal officially abolished slavery in 1876, the practice of forced paid labor continued. Scientific American magazine documented in words and pictures the continued use of slaves in São Tomé in its March 13, 1897 issue. In the early 20th century, an internationally publicized controversy arose over charges that Angolan contract workers were being subjected to forced labor and unsatisfactory working conditions. Sporadic labor unrest and dissatisfaction continued well into the 20th century, culminating in an outbreak of riots in 1953 in which several hundred African laborers were killed in a clash with their Portuguese rulers. This " Batepá Massacre" remains a major event in the colonial history of the islands, and its anniversary is officially observed by the government.
By the late 1950s, when other emerging nations across the African Continent were demanding independence, a small group of São Toméans had formed the Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe (MLSTP), which eventually established its base in nearby Gabon. Picking up momentum in the 1960s, events moved quickly after the overthrow of the Caetano dictatorship in Portugal in April 1974. The new Portuguese regime was committed to the dissolution of its overseas colonies; in November 1974, their representatives met with the MLSTP in Algiers and worked out an agreement for the transfer of sovereignty. After a period of transitional government, São Tomé and Príncipe achieved independence on July 12, 1975, choosing as the first president the MLSTP Secretary General Manuel Pinto da Costa.
In 1990, São Tomé became one of the first African countries to embrace democratic reform, and changes to the constitution — the legalization of opposition political parties — led to elections in 1991 that were nonviolent, free, and transparent. Miguel Trovoada, a former prime minister who had been in exile since 1986, returned as an independent candidate and was elected president. Trovoada was re-elected in São Tomé's second multi-party presidential election in 1996. The Party of Democratic Convergence (PCD) won a majority of seats in the National Assembly, with the MLSTP becoming an important and vocal minority party. Municipal elections followed in late 1992, in which the MLSTP won a majority of seats on five of seven regional councils. In early legislative elections in October 1994, the MLSTP won a plurality of seats in the Assembly. It regained an outright majority of seats in the November 1998 elections. The Government of São Tomé fully functions under a multi-party system. Presidential elections were held in July 2001. The candidate backed by the Independent Democratic Action party, Fradique de Menezes, was elected in the first round and inaugurated on 3 September. Parliamentary elections were held in March 2002. For the next four years, a series of short-lived opposition-led governments were formed.
The army seized power for one week in July 2003, complaining of corruption and that forthcoming oil revenues would not be divided fairly. An accord was negotiated under which President de Menezes was returned to office. The cohabitation period ended in March 2006, when a pro-presidential coalition won enough seats in National Assembly elections to form a new government.
In the 30 July 2006 presidential election, Fradique de Menezes easily won a second five-year term in office, defeating two other candidates Patrice Trovoada (son of former President Miguel Trovoada) and independent Nilo Guimarães. Local elections, the first since 1992, took place on 27 August 2006 and were dominated by members of the ruling coalition. On 12 February 2009, there was an attempted coup d'état to overthrow President Fradique de Menezes. The coup plotters were imprisoned, but later received a pardon from President de Menezes.
São Tomé has functioned under a multiparty system since 1990. The president of the republic is elected to a five-year term by direct universal suffrage and a secret ballot, and must gain an outright majority to be elected. The president may hold up to two consecutive terms. The prime minister is named by the president, and the fourteen members of cabinet are chosen by the prime minister.
The National Assembly, the supreme organ of the state and the highest legislative body, is made up of 55 members, who are elected for a four-year term and meet semiannually. Justice is administered at the highest level by the Supreme Court. The judiciary is independent under the current constitution.
With regards to human rights, there exists the freedom of speech and the freedom to form opposition political parties.
São Tomé and Príncipe finished 11th out of the African countries measured by the Ibrahim Index of African Governance in 2010, a comprehensive reflection of the levels of governance in Africa.
The country has embassies in Angola, Gabon, Portugal, Belgium, Taiwan, and the US. It also has a permanent mission to the UN in New York and an International Diplomatic Correspondent Office.
Provinces and districts
São Tomé and Príncipe is divided into 2 provinces: Príncipe, São Tomé.
The provinces are further divided into seven districts, six on São Tomé and one on Príncipe (with Príncipe having self-government since April 29, 1995).
The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, situated in the equatorial Atlantic and Gulf of Guinea about 300 and 250 kilometres (190 and 160 mi), respectively, off the northwest coast of Gabon, constitute Africa's second 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 coast of Gulf of Guinea.
São Tomé is 50 km (30 mi) long and 30 km (20 mi) wide and the more mountainous of the two islands. Its peaks reach 2,024 m (6,640 ft) - Pico de São Tomé. Príncipe is about 30 km (20 mi) long and 6 km (4 mi) wide. Its peaks reach 948 m (3,110 ft) - Pico de Príncipe. Swift streams radiating down the mountains through lush forest and cropland to the sea cross both islands. The equator lies immediately south of São Tomé Island, passing through an islet Ilhéu das Rolas.
The Pico Cão Grande (Great Dog Peak) is a landmark volcanic plug peak, located atin southern São Tomé. It rises dramatically over 300 m (1,000 ft) above the surrounding terrain and the summit is 663 m (2,175 ft) above sea level.
At sea level, the climate is tropical—hot and humid with average yearly temperatures of about 27 °C (80.6 °F) and little daily variation. The temperature rarely rises beyond 32 °C (89.6 °F). At the interior's higher elevations, the average yearly temperature is 20 °C (68 °F), and nights are generally cool. Annual rainfall varies from 5,000 mm (196.9 in) on the southwestern slopes to 1,000 mm (39.4 in) in the northern lowlands. The rainy season runs from October to May.
São Tomé and Príncipe does not have a large number of native mammals (although the São Tomé Shrew and several bat species are endemic). The islands are home to a larger number of endemic birds and plants, including the world's smallest ibis (the São Tomé Ibis), the world's largest sunbird (the Giant Sunbird), the rare São Tomé Fiscal, and several giant species of Begonia. São Tomé and Principe is an important marine turtle nesting site, notably for hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata)
Since the 19th century, the economy of São Tomé and Príncipe has been based on plantation agriculture. At the time of independence, Portuguese-owned plantations occupied 90% of the cultivated area. After independence, control of these plantations passed to various state-owned agricultural enterprises. The main crop on São Tomé is cocoa, representing about 95% of exports. Other export crops include copra, palm kernels, and coffee.
Domestic food-crop production is inadequate to meet local consumption, so the country imports some of its food. Efforts have been made by the government in recent years to expand food production, and several projects have been undertaken, largely financed by foreign donors.
Other than agriculture, the main economic activities are fishing and a small industrial sector engaged in processing local agricultural products and producing a few basic consumer goods. The scenic islands have potential for tourism, and the government is attempting to improve its rudimentary tourist industry infrastructure. The government sector accounts for about 11% of employment.
Following independence, the country had a centrally directed economy with most means of production owned and controlled by the state. The original constitution guaranteed a "mixed economy", with privately owned cooperatives combined with publicly owned property and means of production. In the 1980s and 1990s, the economy of São Tomé encountered major difficulties. Economic growth stagnated, and cocoa exports dropped in both value and volume, creating large balance-of-payments deficits. Efforts to redistribute plantation land resulted in decreased cocoa production. At the same time, the international price of cocoa slumped.
In response to its economic downturn, the government undertook a series of far-reaching economic reforms. In 1987, the government implemented an International Monetary Fund (IMF) structural adjustment program, and invited greater private participation in management of the parastatals, as well as in the agricultural, commercial, banking, and tourism sectors. The focus of economic reform since the early 1990s has been widespread privatization, especially of the state-run agricultural and industrial sectors.
The São Toméan Government has traditionally obtained foreign assistance from various donors, including the UN Development Programme, the World Bank, the European Union (EU), Portugal, Taiwan, and the African Development Bank. In April 2000, in association with the Banco Central de São Tomé e Príncipe, the IMF approved a poverty reduction and growth facility for São Tomé aimed at reducing inflation to 3% for 2001, raising ideal growth to 4%, and reducing the fiscal deficit.
In late 2000, São Tomé qualified for significant debt reduction under the IMF–World Bank's Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative. The reduction is being reevaluated by the IMF, due to the attempted coup d'état in July 2003 and subsequent emergency spending. Following the truce, the IMF decided to send a mission to São Tomé to evaluate the macroeconomic state of the country. This evaluation is ongoing, reportedly pending oil legislation to determine how the government will manage incoming oil revenues which are still poorly defined, but in any case expected to change the economic situation dramatically.
In parallel, some efforts have been made to incentivize private tourism initiatives, but their scope remains limited.
São Tomé also hosts a broadcasting station of the American International Broadcasting Bureau (IBB) for the Voice of America located at Pinheira.
Portugal remains one of São Tomé's major trading partners, particularly as a source of imports. Food, manufactured articles, machinery, and transportation equipment are imported primarily from the EU.
São Tomé and Príncipe was ranked the 174th safest investment destination in the world in the March 2011 Euromoney Country Risk rankings.
In 2001, São Tomé and Nigeria reached agreement on joint exploration for petroleum in waters claimed by the two countries of the Niger Delta geologic province. After a lengthy series of negotiations, in April 2003 the joint development zone (JDZ) was opened for bids by international oil firms. The JDZ was divided into nine blocks; the winning bids for block one, ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil, and the Norwegian firm, Equity Energy, were announced in April 2004, with São Tomé to take in 40% of the $123 million bid, and Nigeria the other 60%. Bids on other blocks were still under consideration in October 2004. São Tomé has received more than $2 million from the bank to develop its petroleum sector. São Tomé stands to gain significant revenue both from the bidding process and from follow-on production, should reserves in the area match expectations.
Banco Central de Sāo Tomé e Príncipe is the central bank, responsible for monetary policy and bank supervision. There are six banks in the country. The largest and oldest is Banco Internacional de São Tomé e Príncipe, which is a subsidiary of Portugal's government-owned Caixa Geral de Depósitos. It had a monopoly on commercial banking until a change in the banking law in 2003 led to the entry of several other banks.
The first ever census was carried out in 2011 with the help of the National Statistic Institute (INE) of Cape Verde.
Of São Tomé and Príncipe's total population estimated at 163,784 by the government agency about 157,500 live on São Tomé and 6,000 on Príncipe. All are descended from various ethnic groups that have migrated to the islands since 1485. Seven groups are identifiable:
- Mestiços, or mixed-blood, descendants of Portuguese colonists and African slaves brought to the islands during the early years of settlement from Benin, Gabon, and Congo (these people also are known as filhos da terra or "sons of the land");
- Angolares, reputedly descendants of Angolan slaves who survived a 1540 shipwreck and now earn their livelihood fishing;
- Forros, descendants of freed slaves when slavery was abolished;
- Serviçais, contract laborers from Angola, Mozambique, and Cape Verde, living temporarily on the islands;
- Tongas, children of serviçais born on the islands;
- Europeans, primarily Portuguese and Sephardi Jews
- Asians, mostly Chinese minority, including Macanese people of mixed Portuguese and Chinese ancestry from Macau.
In the 1970s, there were two significant population movements—the exodus of most of the 4,000 Portuguese residents and the influx of several hundred São Toméan refugees from Angola. The islanders have been absorbed largely into a common Luso-African culture. Almost all belong to the Roman Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, or Seventh-day Adventist Churches, with a small Muslim population.
Although a small country, São Tomé and Príncipe has four national languages: Portuguese (the official language, spoken by 95% of the population), and the Portuguese-based creoles Forro (85%), Angolar (3%) and Principense (0.1%). French is also taught in schools, as the country is a member of Francophonie.
There was a resurgence of malaria in the country in 2010, but the exact cause is unknown. Female life expectancy at birth was 65.1 years in between 2005 and 2010, and male life expectancy at 62.8 for the same time period. Healthy life expectancy at birth was at 64.7 years in 2011.
A Cuban medical team of seven doctors, nurses and other health workers is working on the main island, with occasionally visits to Principe.
Government health expenditure per capita was at US$90.73 (current US$) in 2009.
Education in São Tomé and Príncipe is compulsory for four years. Primary school enrollment and attendance rates were unavailable for São Tomé and Principe as of 2001. The educational system has a shortage of classrooms, insufficiently trained and underpaid teachers, inadequate textbooks and materials, high rates of repetition, poor educational planning and management, and a lack of community involvement in school management. Domestic financing of the school system is lacking, leaving the system highly dependent on foreign financing. Tertiary institutions are the National Lyceum (São Tomé and Príncipe) and the Instituto Superior Politécnico.
São Toméan culture is a mixture of African and Portuguese influences.
São Toméans are known for ússua and socopé rhythms, while Príncipe is home to the dêxa beat. Portuguese ballroom dancing may have played an integral part in the development of these rhythms and their associated dances.
Tchiloli is a musical dance performance that tells a dramatic story. The danço-congo is similarly a combination of music, dance and theatre.