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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. Though the first free elections were held in 1991, the political environment has been one of continued instability with frequent changes in leadership and coup attempts in 1995 and 2003. The recent discovery of oil in the Gulf of Guinea is likely to have a significant impact on the country's economy.
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
land: 1,001 sq km
water: 0 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: 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, 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
193,413 (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 47.5% (male 46,478/female 45,302)
15-64 years: 48.8% (male 45,631/female 48,661)
65 years and over: 3.8% (male 3,368/female 3,973) (2006 est.)
Median age:
total: 16.2 years
male: 15.6 years
female: 16.8 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
3.15% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
40.25 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
6.47 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
-2.32 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 41.83 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 43.74 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 39.86 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 67.31 years
male: 65.73 years
female: 68.95 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
5.62 children born/woman (2006 est.)
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 (2005)
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: 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 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 DE MENEZES (since 3 September 2001)
head of government: Prime Minister Tome Soares da VERA CRUZ (since 21 April 2006)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the proposal of the prime minister
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 30 July 2006 (next to be held 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 are elected by direct, popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 26 March 2006 (next to be held March 2010)
election results: percent of vote by party - MDFM-PCD 37.2%, MLSTP 28.9%, ADI 20.0%, NR 4.7%, other 9.2%; seats by party - MDFM-PCD 23, MLSTP 19, ADI 12, NR 1
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 or MDFM; 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; other small parties
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: First Secretary Domingos Augusto FERREIRA
chancery: 400 Park Avenue, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10022
telephone: [1] (212) 317-0580
FAX: [1] (212) 935-7348
consulate(s): Atlanta
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 in 1975. Cocoa production has substantially declined in recent years because of drought and mismanagement, but strengthening prices helped boost export earnings in 2003. Sao Tome 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 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, Sao Tome 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. Sao Tome is optimistic about the development of petroleum resources in its territorial waters in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea, which are being jointly developed in a 60-40 split with Nigeria. The first production licenses were sold in 2004, though a dispute over licensing with Nigeria delayed Sao Tome's receipt of more than $20 million in signing bonuses for almost a year. Real GDP growth exceeded 4% in 2006, as a result of increases in public expenditures and oil-related capital investment.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$214 million (2003 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
$71.38 million (2005 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
4.4% (2006 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$1,200 (2003 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 16.6%
industry: 15.3%
services: 68.1% (2006 est.)
Labor force:
35,050 (1991)
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%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
15% (2006 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):
35.2% of GDP (2006 est.)
revenues: $102.1 million
expenditures: $61.43 million; including capital expenditures of $54 million (2006 est.)
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:
Electricity - production:
18 million kWh (2004)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 41.2%
hydro: 58.8%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
16.74 million kWh (2004)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2004)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2004)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - consumption:
660 bbl/day (2004 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA bbl/day
Oil - imports:
NA bbl/day
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2004 est.)
Current account balance:
$-24.4 million (2006 est.)
$9.773 million f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Exports - commodities:
cocoa 80%, copra, coffee, palm oil
Exports - partners:
Netherlands 61.9%, Belgium 9.3%, Turkey 5.6%, South Korea 4.1% (2005)
$48.87 million f.o.b. (2006 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and electrical equipment, food products, petroleum products
Imports - partners:
Portugal 47.5%, US 17.3%, Malaysia 6.2%, Belgium 5.3% (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:
$25.47 million (2006 est.)
Debt - external:
$318 million (2002)
Economic aid - recipient:
$200 million in December 2000 under the HIPC program
Currency (code):
dobra (STD)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
dobras per US dollar - 12,134 (2006), 9,900.4 (2005), NA (2004), 9,347.6 (2003), 9,088.3 (2002)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Sao Tome and Principe
Telephones - main lines in use:
7,000 (2004)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
12,000 (2005)
Telephone system:
general assessment: adequate facilities
domestic: minimal system
international: country code - 239; 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 hosts:
735 (2006)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2002)
Internet users:
20,000 (2005)
Transportation Sao Tome and Principe
2 (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2006)
total: 320 km
paved: 218 km
unpaved: 102 km (1999)
Merchant marine:
total: 8 ships (1000 GRT or over) 21,527 GRT/29,823 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 1, cargo 7
foreign-owned: 3 (Egypt 1, Greece 1, Lebanon 1) (2006)
Ports and terminals:
Sao Tome
Military Sao Tome and Principe
Military branches:
Armed Forces of Sao Tome and Principe (FASTP): Army, Coast Guard, Presidential Guard (2004)
Military service age and obligation:
18 years of age (est.) (2004)
Manpower available for military service:
males age 18-49: 33,438
females age 18-49: 35,279 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service:
males age 18-49: 25,950
females age 18-49: 28,660 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$581,729 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
0.8% (2005 est.)
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 and conditions have been a problem in the past, as has alleged nepotism in the promotion of officers, as reflected in the 1995 and 2003 coups; these issues are being addressed with foreign assistance as initial steps towards the improvement of 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:

This page was last updated on 18 January, 2007