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Map of Sao Tome and Principe
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. Although independence was achieved in 1975, democratic reforms were not instituted until the late 1980s. The first free elections were held in 1991.
Geography Sao Tome and Principe
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: 1,001 sq km
water: 0 sq km
land: 1,001 sq km
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: 2%
permanent crops: 41%
other: 57% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
100 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
Environment - current issues:
deforestation; soil erosion and exhaustion
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
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 fairly mountainous
People Sao Tome and Principe
170,372 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 47.7% (male 41,159; female 40,125)
15-64 years: 48.3% (male 39,701; female 42,586)
65 years and over: 4% (male 3,115; female 3,686) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
3.18% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
42.3 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
7.32 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
-3.15 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.93 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
47.5 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 65.93 years
female: 67.45 years (2002 est.)
male: 64.47 years
Total fertility rate:
5.95 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
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)
Christian 80% (Roman Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, Seventh-Day Adventist)
Portuguese (official)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 79.3%
male: 85%
female: 62% (1991 est.)
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 short form: Sao Tome e Principe
local long form: Republica Democratica de Sao Tome e Principe
Government type:
Sao Tome
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 DE MENEZES (since 3 September 2001)
election results: Fradique DE MENEZES elected president in Sao Tome's third multiparty presidential election; percent of vote - NA%
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election last held 29 July 2001 (next to be held NA July 2006); prime minister chosen by the National Assembly and approved by the president
head of government: Prime Minister Maria das NEVES (since 7 October 2002)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the proposal of the prime minister
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Assembleia Nacional (55 seats; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 3 March 2002 (next to be held NA March 2006)
election results: percent of vote by party - MLSTP 39.6%, Force for Change Democratic Movement 39.4%, Ue-Kedadji coalition 16.2%; seats by party - MLSTP 24, Force for Change Democratic Movement 23, Ue-Kedadji coalition 8
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the National Assembly)
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Renovation Party [Armindo GRACA]; Force for Change Democratic Movement [leader NA]; Independent Democratic Action or ADI [Carlos NEVES]; Movement for the Liberation of Sao Tome and Principe-Social Democratic Party or MLSTP-PSD [Manuel Pinto Da COSTA]; Party for Democratic Convergence or PCD [Aldo BANDEIRA]; Ue-Kedadji coalition [leader NA]; other small parties
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Sao Tome and Principe does not have an embassy in the US, but does have a Permanent Mission to the UN, headed by First Secretary Domingos Augusto FERREIRA, located at 400 Park Avenue, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10022, telephone [1] (212) 317-0580
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; uses the popular pan-African colors of Ethiopia
Economy Sao Tome and Principe
Economy - overview:
This small poor island economy has become increasingly dependent on cocoa since independence 26 years ago. However, cocoa production has substantially declined because of drought and mismanagement. The resulting shortage of cocoa for export has created a persistent balance-of-payments problem. Sao Tome has to import all fuels, most manufactured goods, consumer goods, and a substantial amount of food. Over the years, it has been unable to service its external debt and has had to depend on concessional aid and debt rescheduling. Sao Tome benefited from $200 million in debt relief in December 2000 under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program. Sao Tome's success in implementing structural reforms has been rewarded by international donors, who have pledged increased assistance in 2001. 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. Sao Tome is also optimistic that substantial petroleum discoveries are forthcoming in its territorial waters in the oil-rich waters of the Gulf of Guinea. Corruption scandals continue to weaken the economy.
purchasing power parity - $189 million (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
4% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $1,200 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 25%
industry: 10%
services: 65% (1999 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
7% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
Labor force - by occupation:
population mainly engaged in subsistence agriculture and fishing
note: shortages of skilled workers
Unemployment rate:
revenues: $58 million
expenditures: $114 million, including capital expenditures of $54 million
light construction, textiles, soap, beer; fish processing; timber
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
17 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 41%
hydro: 59%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
15.81 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
cocoa, coconuts, palm kernels, copra, cinnamon, pepper, coffee, bananas, papayas, beans; poultry; fish
$4.1 million f.o.b. (2000 est.)
Exports - commodities:
cocoa 90%, copra, coffee, palm oil
Exports - partners:
Portugal 33.3%, Netherlands 8.3%, Spain 8.3% (1999)
$40 million f.o.b. (2000 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and electrical equipment, food products, petroleum products
Imports - partners:
Portugal 43%, France 15.7%, UK 13.7% (1999)
Debt - external:
$253.8 million (2000) (2000)
Economic aid - recipient:
$200 million in December 2000 under the HIPC program
dobra (STD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
dobras per US dollar - 9,009.1 (December 2001), 8,842.1 (2001), 7,978.2 (2000), 7,119.0 (1999), 6,883.2 (1998), 4,552.5 (1997)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Sao Tome and Principe
Telephones - main lines in use:
4,600 (2000)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
6,942 (1997)
Telephone system:
general assessment: adequate facilities
domestic: minimal system
international: satellite earth station - 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 1, FM 5, shortwave 1 (2002)
38,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
2 (2002)
23,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2002)
Internet users:
9,000 (2002)
Transportation Sao Tome and Principe
0 km
total: 320 km
paved: 218 km
unpaved: 102 km (1996)
Ports and harbors:
Santo Antonio, Sao Tome
Merchant marine:
total: 41 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 169,991 GRT/245,996 DWT
ships by type: bulk 6, cargo 23, chemical tanker 1, container 3, livestock carrier 1, petroleum tanker 3, refrigerated cargo 1, roll on/roll off 2, specialized tanker 1
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Egypt 1, Greece 1, Kenya 1, Portugal 1, Syria 1, Turkey 1 (2002 est.)
2 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2002)
Military Sao Tome and Principe
Military branches:
Army, Navy, Security Police
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 35,524 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 18,727 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$400,000 (FY01)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
0.8% (FY01)
Transnational Issues Sao Tome and Principe
Disputes - international:

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003