Sao Tome and Principe Sao Tome and Principe

Sao Tome and Principe (Africa)

Introduction ::Sao Tome and Principe


Discovered and claimed by Portugal in the late 15th century, the islands' sugar-based economy gave way to coffee and cocoa in the 19th century - all grown with plantation slave labor, a form of which lingered into the 20th century. While independence was achieved in 1975, democratic reforms were not instituted until the late 1980s. The country held its first free elections in 1991, but frequent internal wrangling between the various political parties precipitated repeated changes in leadership and two failed coup attempts in 1995 and 2003. The recent discovery of oil in the Gulf of Guinea promises to attract increased attention to the small island nation.

Geography ::Sao Tome and Principe

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Western Africa, islands in the Gulf of Guinea, straddling the
Equator, west of Gabon

Geographic coordinates:
1 00 N, 7 00 E

Map references:



total: 964 sq km country comparison to the world: 184 land: 964 sq km

water: 0 sq km

Sao Tome e Principe

Area - comparative:

more than five times the size of Washington, DC

Land boundaries:

0 km


209 km

Maritime claims:

measured from claimed archipelagic baselines

territorial sea: 12 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm


tropical; hot, humid; one rainy season (October to May)


volcanic, mountainous

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m

highest point: Pico de Sao Tome 2,024 m

Natural resources:

fish, hydropower

Land use:

arable land: 8.33%

permanent crops: 48.96%

other: 42.71% (2005)

Irrigated land:

100 sq km (2003)

Natural hazards:

Environment - current issues:

deforestation; soil erosion and exhaustion

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto
Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental
Modification, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship
Pollution, Wetlands

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note:

the smallest country in Africa; the two main islands form part of a chain of extinct volcanoes and both are mountainous

People ::Sao Tome and Principe


175,808 (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 185

Age structure:

0-14 years: 46.9% (male 50,475/female 49,188)

15-64 years: 49.7% (male 51,325/female 54,289)

65 years and over: 3.5% (male 3,335/female 4,067) (2010 est.)

Median age:

total: 17.5 years

male: 17 years

female: 17.9 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:

2.112% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 46

Birth rate:

39.09 births/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 14

Death rate:

8.45 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 86

Net migration rate:

-9.52 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 214


urban population: 61% of total population (2008)

rate of urbanization: 3% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.86 male(s)/female

total population: 1 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 54.64 deaths/1,000 live births country comparison to the world: 42 male: 56.75 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 52.46 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 62.73 years country comparison to the world: 176 male: 61.58 years

female: 63.91 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:

5.21 children born/woman (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 17

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

Major infectious diseases:

degree of risk: high

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne disease: malaria

animal contact disease: rabies (2009)


noun: Sao Tomean(s)

adjective: Sao Tomean

Ethnic groups:

mestico, angolares (descendants of Angolan slaves), forros (descendants of freed slaves), servicais (contract laborers from Angola, Mozambique, and Cape Verde), tongas (children of servicais born on the islands), Europeans (primarily Portuguese)


Catholic 70.3%, Evangelical 3.4%, New Apostolic 2%, Adventist 1.8%, other 3.1%, none 19.4% (2001 census)


Portuguese (official)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 84.9%

male: 92.2%

female: 77.9% (2001 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 11 years

male: 11 years

female: 11 years (2009)

Education expenditures:

Government ::Sao Tome and Principe

Country name:

conventional long form: Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe

conventional short form: Sao Tome and Principe

local long form: Republica Democratica de Sao Tome e Principe

local short form: Sao Tome e Principe

Government type:



name: Sao Tome

geographic coordinates: 0 12 N, 6 39 E

time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Administrative divisions:

2 provinces; Principe, Sao Tome

note: Principe has had self government since 29 April 1995


12 July 1975 (from Portugal)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 12 July (1975)


approved March 1990, effective 10 September 1990

Legal system:

based on Portuguese legal system and customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Fradique Bandiera Melo DE MENEZES (since 3 September 2001)

head of government: Prime Minister Joachim Rafael BRANCO (since 22 June 2008)

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the proposal of the prime minister (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 30 July 2006 (next to be held in July 2011); prime minister chosen by the National Assembly and approved by the president

election results: Fradique DE MENEZES elected president; percent of vote - Fradique DE MENEZES 60%, Patrice TROVOADA 38.5%

Legislative branch:

unicameral National Assembly or Assembleia Nacional (55 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)

elections: last held on 1 August 2010 (next to be held in 2014)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - ADI 26, MLSTP 21, PCD 7, MDFM 1

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the National Assembly)

Political parties and leaders:

Force for Change Democratic Movement or MDFM [Tome Soares da VERA
CRUZ]; Independent Democratic Action or ADI [Patrice TROVOADA];
Movement for the Liberation of Sao Tome and Principe-Social
Democratic Party or MLSTP-PSD [Rafael BRANCO]; New Way Movement or
NR; Party for Democratic Convergence or PCD [Delfim NEVES];
Ue-Kedadji coalition; other small parties

Political pressure groups and leaders:

Association of Sao Tome and Principe NGOs or FONG

other: the media

International organization participation:

IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), IPU, ITU,

Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Ovidio PEQUENO

chancery: 1211 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20036

telephone: [1] (202) 775-2075, 2076
FAX: [1] (202) 775-2077

Diplomatic representation from the US:

the US does not have an embassy in Sao Tome and Principe; the Ambassador to Gabon is accredited to Sao Tome and Principe on a nonresident basis and makes periodic visits to the islands

Flag description:

three horizontal bands of green (top), yellow (double width), and green with two black five-pointed stars placed side by side in the center of the yellow band and a red isosceles triangle based on the hoist side; green stands for the country's rich vegetation, red recalls the struggle for independence, and yellow represents cocoa, one of the country's main agricultural products; the two stars symbolize the two main islands

note: uses the popular Pan-African colors of Ethiopia

National anthem:

name: "Independencia total" (Total Independence)

lyrics/music: Alda Neves DA GRACA do Espirito Santo/Manuel dos Santos Barreto de Sousa e ALMEIDA

note: adopted 1975

Economy ::Sao Tome and Principe

Economy - overview:

This small, poor island economy has become increasingly dependent on cocoa since independence in 1975. Cocoa production has substantially declined in recent years because of drought and mismanagement. Sao Tome and Principe has to import all fuels, most manufactured goods, consumer goods, and a substantial amount of food. Over the years, it has had difficulty servicing its external debt and has relied heavily on concessional aid and debt rescheduling. Sao Tome and Principe benefited from $200 million in debt relief in December 2000 under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program, which helped bring down the country's $300 million debt burden. In August 2005, the government signed on to a new 3-year IMF Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) program worth $4.3 million. 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. Potential exists for the development of petroleum resources in Sao Tome and Principe's territorial waters in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea, which are being jointly developed in a 60-40 split with Nigeria, but any actual production is at least several years off. The first production licenses were sold in 2004, though a dispute over licensing with Nigeria delayed the country's receipt of more than $20 million in signing bonuses for almost a year.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$316.9 million (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 213 $299 million (2009 est.)

$287.5 million (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$187 million (2010 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

6% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 37 4% (2009 est.)

5.8% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$1,800 (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 193 $1,700 (2009 est.)

$1,700 (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 14.7%

industry: 22.9%

services: 62.4% (2010 est.)

Labor force:

52,490 (2007) country comparison to the world: 188

Labor force - by occupation:

note: population mainly engaged in subsistence agriculture and fishing; shortages of skilled workers

Unemployment rate:

Population below poverty line:

54% (2004 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: NA%

highest 10%: NA%

Investment (gross fixed):

41% of GDP (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 3

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

13% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 213 16.7% (2009 est.)

Central bank discount rate:

16% (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 4 28% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

32.4% (31 December 2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 5 32.4% (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of narrow money:

$17.18 million (31 December 2010 est) country comparison to the world: 187 $19.1 million (31 December 2009 est)

Stock of broad money:

$82.2 million (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 185 $64.79 million (31 December 2008)

Stock of domestic credit:

$17.14 million (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 182 $16.57 million (31 December 2009 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

Agriculture - products:

cocoa, coconuts, palm kernels, copra, cinnamon, pepper, coffee, bananas, papayas, beans; poultry; fish


light construction, textiles, soap, beer, fish processing, timber

Industrial production growth rate:

7% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 42

Electricity - production:

19 million kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 206

Electricity - consumption:

17.67 million kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 207

Electricity - exports:

0 kWh (2008)

Electricity - imports:

0 kWh (2008 est.)

Oil - production:

0 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 133

Oil - consumption:

1,000 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 193

Oil - exports:

0 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 176

Oil - imports:

726 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 191

Oil - proved reserves:

0 bbl (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 126

Natural gas - production:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 133

Natural gas - consumption:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 152

Natural gas - exports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 131

Natural gas - imports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 136

Natural gas - proved reserves:

0 cu m (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 137

Current account balance:

-$73 million (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 73 -$49 million (2009 est.)


$13 million (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 211 $10 million (2009 est.)

Exports - commodities:

cocoa 80%, copra, coffee, palm oil

Exports - partners:

UK 32.99%, Netherlands 26.93%, Belgium 21.04%, Portugal 4.31% (2009)


$99 million (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 209 $80 million (2009 est.)

Imports - commodities:

machinery and electrical equipment, food products, petroleum products

Imports - partners:

Portugal 58.9%, Brazil 6.68%, US 4.71%, Japan 4.49% (2009)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$46 million (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 131 $39 million (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - external:

$318 million (2002) country comparison to the world: 170

Exchange rates:

dobras (STD) per US dollar - 19,641 (2010), 16,000 (2009), 14,900 (2008), 13,700 (2007), 12,050 (2006)

Communications ::Sao Tome and Principe

Telephones - main lines in use:

7,800 (2009) country comparison to the world: 205

Telephones - mobile cellular:

64,000 (2009) country comparison to the world: 193

Telephone system:

general assessment: local telephone network of adequate quality with most lines connected to digital switches

domestic: combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity roughly 35 telephones per 100 persons

international: country code - 239; satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2008)

Broadcast media:

1 government-owned TV station; 1 government-owned radio station; 3 independent local radio stations authorized in 2005 with 2 operating at the end of 2006; transmissions of multiple international broadcasters are available (2007)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

1,514 (2010) country comparison to the world: 158

Internet users:

26,700 (2009) country comparison to the world: 183

Transportation ::Sao Tome and Principe


2 (2010) country comparison to the world: 202

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2010)


total: 320 km country comparison to the world: 202 paved: 218 km

unpaved: 102 km (2000)

Merchant marine:

total: 3 country comparison to the world: 137 by type: bulk carrier 1, cargo 2

foreign-owned: 1 (Greece 1) (2010)

Ports and terminals:

Sao Tome

Military ::Sao Tome and Principe

Military branches:

Armed Forces of Sao Tome and Principe (Forcas Armadas de Sao Tome e
Principe, FASTP): Army, Coast Guard of Sao Tome e Principe (Guarda
Costeira de Sao Tome e Principe, GCSTP), Presidential Guard (2010)

Military service age and obligation:

18 years of age (est.) (2004)

Manpower available for military service:

males age 16-49: 38,211

females age 16-49: 38,929 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:

males age 16-49: 26,530

females age 16-49: 28,450 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:

male: 1,997

female: 1,922 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:

0.8% of GDP (2006) country comparison to the world: 147

Military - note:

Sao Tome and Principe's army is a tiny force with almost no resources at its disposal and would be wholly ineffective operating unilaterally; infantry equipment is considered simple to operate and maintain but may require refurbishment or replacement after 25 years in tropical climates; poor pay, working conditions, and alleged nepotism in the promotion of officers have been problems in the past, as reflected in the 1995 and 2003 coups; these issues are being addressed with foreign assistance aimed at improving the army and its focus on realistic security concerns; command is exercised from the president, through the Minister of Defense, to the Chief of the Armed Forces staff (2005)

Transnational Issues ::Sao Tome and Principe

Disputes - international:




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