São Tomé and Príncipe

island sovereign state in Africa

São Tomé and Príncipe, officially the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe is an island nation in Central Africa, it is located off the Gulf of Guinea. The main islands of São Tomé and Príncipe are about 140 km apart and about 250 and 225 km, respectively, off of the northwestern coast of Gabon. The country has a population of 201,800 (2018 official estimate),São Tomé and Príncipe is the second-smallest and second-least populous African sovereign state after Seychelles as well as the smallest and least populous Portuguese-speaking country in the world.

Democratic Republic of
São Tomé and Príncipe
República Democrática de São Tomé e Príncipe
Coat of arms of São Tomé and Príncipe
Coat of arms
Motto: Unidade, Disciplina, Trabalho
Portuguese: "Unity, Discipline, Work"
Anthem: Independência total
"Total Independence"
Location of São Tomé and Príncipe
and largest city
São Tomé
Official languagesPortuguese
Recognised regional languagesForro, Angolar, Principense
GovernmentDemocratic semi-presidential Republic
• President
Carlos Vila Nova
Patrice Trovoada
• from Portugal
12 July 1975
• Total
1,001 km2 (386 sq mi) (183rd)
• Water (%)
• 2020 estimate
210,240[1] (188th)
• Density
210/km2 (543.9/sq mi) (69th)
GDP (PPP)2010 estimate
• Total
$311 million[2]
• Per capita
GDP (nominal)2010 estimate
• Total
$196 million[2]
• Per capita
HDI (2010)Increase 0.488
low · 127th
CurrencyDobra (STD)
Time zoneUTC+0 (UTC)
Driving sideright
Calling code239
ISO 3166 codeST
Internet TLD.st

The English translation of the countries name is Saint Thomas and Prince.

The islands were a Portuguese colony, but have been independent since July 1975. Portuguese is the official language.



The Portuguese arrived in São Tomé Island on December 21, 1471, and Príncipe Island on January 17, 1492. As these were days dedicated to saints, both islands had saints’ names. S. Antão Island, the former name of Príncipe Island, changed in 1500 to honor the Prince of Portugal.

The official historical version says that the country was uninhabited before the arrival of the Portuguese sailors.

The first successful Portuguese settlement in the archipelago was in 1493. The volcanic soil of the islands proved to be good for sugar crops. Hard work was needed to grow and harvest the sugar crops. Slaves were brought from Portugal to do the work. Because other countries began producing more sugar, the islands were not able to make money from it. Instead it became a stopping place for the slave trade.

In the 19th century, crops of coffee and cocoa were grown. These became successful. By 1908 the country was the largest producer of cocoa. It is the most important crop for the country.

On February 3, 1953, the Batepá massacre occurred. In the massacre hundreds of local people were killed by Portuguese settlers. The Portuguese wanted workers for the crops. The locals said they were being used as slaves. The governor told the military to take any locals who did not want to work.

In the late 1950s a group wanted independence. They were called the MLSTP (Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe). In 1974 they succeeded in removing Marcelo Caetano as their leader. On 12 July 1975 São Tomé and Príncipe became an independent country. The first president was Manuel Pinto da Costa. He was the MLSTP`s General Secretary.

Until 1990 the MLSTP was the only political party. They changed the constitution to allow other political parties. The new Party of Democratic Convergence (PCD) won the most seats in the National Assembly. Miguel Trovoada was elected president.



The president is elected for a five-year term and can be re-elected. The prime minister is elected for a four-year term. The thirteen members of the cabinet (the group of ministers) are chosen by them. All adult citizens can vote in the elections. They vote by secret ballot.



São Tomé and Príncipe is divided into 2 provinces: Príncipe and 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).


Cities in São Tomé und Príncipe
Rank Place Population District
Census 1991 Census 2001 Estimate 2005
1. São Tomé (capital) 42,331 49,957 56,166 Água Grande
2. Santo Amaro 5,878 - 8,239 Lobata
3. Neves 5,919 6,635 7,392 Lembá
4. Santana 6,190 6,228 6,969 Cantagalo
5. Trindade - 6,049 6,636 Mé-Zóchi
6. Santa Cruz - 1,862 2,045 Caué
7. Pantufo - 1,929 2,169 Água Grande
8. Guadalupe - 1,543 1,734 Lobata
9. Santo António 1,000 1,010 1,156 Pagué
10. Santa Catarina - - 971 Lembá
11. Porto Alegre - - 334 Caué

Geography and Climate


São Tomé and Príncipe is formed by two volcanic islands - the biggest of which is S. Tomé - and several islets. It is in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Africa. Both islands belong to the Cameroon volcanic mountain line.

The archipelago is 1,001km2 in size. The equator line passes through the Rolas’s Islet which is in the south of S. Tomé Island. The tallest peak is the Peak of S. Tomé at 2,024m tall.

The climate is tropical, hot and humid, with an annual average temperature of 27 C. There are two main seasons. Gravana is the driest season. It has little or no rainfall and the temperatures are lower. Gravana lasts from June to August. The rainy season is from October to May.



Since the archipelago´s discovery, its economy has been based on agriculture and fishing. Cocoa is 95% of the country’s exports. Other exports are copper, palm oil and coffee. Another economic activity is tourism.

After independence, the country’s economy was nationalized, it was then privatised in the early 1990s. Now the government budget is mainly based on foreign assistance from donors such as the UN Development Programme, the World Bank, and country donors.

The main importers of the archipelago's production are Portugal with 51%, France with 14%, Angola with 11%, and Japan with 10%.

In 2001, petroleum was found in the waters claimed by the archipelago and Nigeria.



According to the 2010 census, about 163,000 people lived in São Tomé and Príncipe. 52,000 lived in the capital and less than seven thousand lived on Príncipe Island.

São Tomé is the country’s capital and main city.

The people of S. Tomé and Príncipe are divided into the following ethnic groups: mixed-blood, descendents of Portuguese settlers and African slaves; Forros, the biggest ethnic group and descendents of freed slaves; Angolares, descendents of Angolan slaves; Tonga, mixed blood of Forros and hired workers from Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde; and Cape Verdean descendents.

The country’s official language is Portuguese. Other languages spoken are Forro, a creole spoken by 80% of S. Tomé Island`s people; Angolar, spoken mainly on the southeast of S. Tomé Island; Lung`ié, spoken in Príncipe Island; and Creole from Cape Verde.

Almost everyone is Christian: Roman Catholic, Evangelical Protestant and Seventh-Day Adventist.



The country’s culture is the product of Portuguese and African cultural influence. Typical dances on the islands are Ússua, Socopé, Dêxa, and Puita. Tchiloli, Danço Congo and Auto dos Floripes are public theatrical performances, examples of the Portuguese cultural legacy.

Alda Neves da Graça do Espírito Santo was a famous poet from São Tomé.



Children are required to attend school for four years. The National Lyceum (São Tomé and Príncipe) and the University of São Tomé and Príncipe are the two colleges.


  1. "National Institute of Statistics" (in Portuguese). 2020. Archived from the original on 2019-01-24. Retrieved 2020-06-27.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "São Tomé and Príncipe". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2011-06-11.