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Sao Tome & Principe

Sao Tome and Principe lies in western Africa. This country comprises of two main islands in the Gulf of Guinea, to the west of Gabon. These islands were discovered and claimed by the Portuguese in the late 1400s and independence was granted in 1975. Much of Sao Tome and Principe’s history deals with the slave trade and the slave-worked plantations. The island of Sao Tome played a crucial role in the shipment of slaves from Africa to the New World (the Americas) during the slave trade era. The capital of Sao Tome and Principe is Sao Tome. It is picturesque in nature and the colonial Portuguese architecture is still very much evident. The city is home to many cocoa plantations, which reveal a lot about Sao Tome’s colonial past. The island has various

fishing towns and important historical places such as São Sebastião, where one can visit the museum that holds religious and colonial art. The island of Principe has still has much of its colonial architecture and atmosphere, specifically in its main town of Santo Antonio. The culture of Sao Tome and Principe is a mixture of European and African cultures. The same can be said about the people of this small country. The dances of Sao Tome and Principe remain influenced by different Portuguese colonies. Characteristics of the samba from Brazil, the puita from Cape Verde, the bulaué from Angola are all present in the dances of Sao Tome and Principe.
CATEGORIES: Demographics - Quick Facts - Economy - Communications - Health Issues
Country Flag: Sao Tome & Principe's Flag

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; uses the popular pan-African colors of Ethiopia

Nationality: Sao Tomean

Capital: Sao Tome

Population: 193,413 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

  • 0-14 years: 47.5%
  • 15-64 years: 48.8%
  • 65 years and over: 3.8% (2006 est.)  

Population growth rate: 3.15% (2006 est.)

Literacy rate:

  • ages 15 and above can read and write.
  • 79.3% of the population is literate (male: 85%, female: 62%) (1991 est.)

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

Languages: Portuguese (official)

Quick Facts
  • total: 1,001 sq km
  • land: 1,001 sq km
  • water: 0 sq km

Area comparative to Canadian province: five times smaller than Prince Edward Island

Natural resources: fish, hydropower

Environmental Issues: deforestation; soil erosion and exhaustion


Sao Tome and Principe has become even more dependent on cocoa since gaining independence in 1975. Drought and mismanagement has caused for a substantial decrease in cocoa production. Sao Tome continues to import all fuels, most manufactured goods, consumer goods and a considerable amount of food. In 2000, Sao Tome benefited greatly from $200 million in debt relief under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program. In 2005, Sao Tome also signed a 3-year IMF Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) program worth $4.3 million. Sao Tome is currently working on developing its tourism industry. Meanwhile, Sao Tome is working on the development of petroleum resources in its territorial waters in the Gulf of Guinea. This is being jointly developed in a 60-40 split with Nigeria. Real GDP has been growing as a result of increases in public expenditures and oil-related investment.

Major industries:

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

Agricultural products:

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

Oil production: 0 bbl/day (2003)

Railways: N/A

Road map: 320 km (paved: 218 km, unpaved: 102 km)

Currency: Dobra


Telephone lines in use: 7,000 (2003)

Cellular lines in use: 4,800 (2003)

Television Stations: 2 (2002)

Radio Stations: AM 1, FM 5, shortwave 1 (2002)

Internet users: 20,000 (2005)

Health Issues

HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate: N/A

People living with HIV/AIDS: N/A

More Information

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