Sao Tome and Principe

Full Name
Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe
Origins of name: Sao Tome, the principal island, was named by 15th century Portuguese explorers in honour of Saint Thomas.
Formerly: Principe was initially named Santo Antão ("Saint Anthony") then changed its name in 1502 to Ilha do Principe ("Prince's Island"), in reference to the Prince of Portugal of the time

Current Leader
Manuel Pinto da Costa

Sao Tome and Principe is a Portuguese-speaking island nation consisting of two islands; Sao Tome and Principe, off the north-western coast of Gabon
Sao Tome and Principe is the second-smallest African country in terms of population (the smallest being Seychelles)
The country officially gained independence from Portugal in 1975


Form of Government
President is Head of State
President is elected by popular vote for five-year term (eligible for second term)
Prime Minister is Head of Government

Government structure
President, Prime Minister, Council of Ministers appointed by President on proposal of Prime Minister, Unicameral Parliament

Military Statistics
Manpower fit for military service: Males age 16-49: 35,216 and Females age 16-49: 38,329
Expenditures: 0.8% of GDP
Branches: Army, Coast Guard, Presidential Guard

Former Rulers
1975 to 1991 – Manuel Pinto da Costa
1991 to 2001 – Miguel Trovoada

2001 to 2011 - Fradique de Menezes

Sao Tome
Altitude: 10 metres
Population: 56,166 people

Size: 169,000 (2011)
Life expectancy: 68.3 years
Gender Make-Up: Male – 49.41% and Female – 50.59%

Area: 1,001sqkm
Land boundaries: n/a

GDP per capita
$2,058 (2011)

$1,945 (2010)

Major Languages
Portuguese (official), Forro, Angolar, Principense

Religious portfolio
Catholic 70.3%, Evangelical 3.4%, New Apostolic 2%, Adventist 1.8%, other 3.1%, none 19.4%

National Make-up
Mestico, Angolares (descendants of Angolan slaves), Forros (descendants of freed slaves), Servicais (contract labourers from Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde), Tongas (children of servicais born on the islands), Europeans (mainly Portuguese)

Natural Resources
Fish, Oil production anticipated

Main exports
Cocoa (80%), Copra, Coffee, Sugar, Bananas, Palm oil

Land Use
Arable land: 8.33%
Permanent crops: 48.96%
Other: 42.71%

Monetary Unit/Currency

Dialling Code

Internet Code

Main Port: Sao Tome
Airport: Sao Tome International Airport located 4km from centre of Sao Tome city

Modern issues

Deforestation; soil erosion and exhaustion
Domestic food-crop production is inadequate to meet local consumption; so the country imports a good deal of its food.
Coastal erosion due to sand extraction
Only 20 per cent of the population has access to safe drinking water. Water treatment facilities are inadequate.

Mr. Pinto da Costa returned to power after again being elected head of state by winning 52.8 percent of a run-off poll in August 2011

There has been an uneasy political cohabitation between the new head of state and the administration of the prime minister, Patrice Trovoada, of the ruling party, Acção Democrática Independente. The main challenge for the government will be to manage the increase in foreign direct investment into the oil sector and rising inflows of donor aid.

Geologists estimate that the Gulf of Guinea zone holds more than 10 billion barrels of oil, although no reserves have yet been proved. A joint oil project between Sao Tome and Principe and Nigeria has been underway since 2005. São Tomé is optimistic that significant petroleum discoveries under the exploration licence are forthcoming.


São Tomé and Príncipe has two higher education institutes, but does not yet have its own public university. Funding higher education overseas for almost 1,000 students costs the government more than US$3m a year

Foreign Affairs
Sao Tome maintains close collaboration with other ex-Portuguese colonies in Africa, particularly Angola. Sao Tomean relations with other African countries in the region, such as Gabon and Congo-Brazzaville, are also good.
With the development of Sao Tome’s oil reserves, diplomatic and military ties with the USA have tightened
Relations with the USA since the development of oil have tightened
Sao Tome is one of the dwindling number of countries retaining diplomatic links with Taiwan. China retaliated by cutting off ties

Major conflicts

Military Coup
When: July 2003
Who: The army seized power for one week
Why: Soldiers were complaining of corruption and that forthcoming oil revenues would not be divided fairly.
Outcome: An accord was negotiated under which President de Menezes was returned to office and guarantees of fairness given to the mutineers

What to see?
Fort Sao Sebastiao, built in 1575 and now the Sao Tome National Museum

Popular Sports
Water sports (surfing, swimming, diving, kayaking)

Famous Sportsmen and Sportswomen
Armandinho (Armando dos Santos)- soccer player

Like twins, the two islands that comprise Sao Tome and Principe have to live together, but the sibling rivalry is intense, precluding even agreement on a national name that removes the need to include both

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