Sao Tome and Principe Overview
deSao Tome and Principe
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The Democratic Republic consists of the two main
islands São Tom¨¦ (836 km²) and Pr¨ªncipe (128 km²) and
several small islands, which are located in the Gulf of
Guinea about 300 km off the coast of Equatorial Guinea
and Gabon. The small island "Das Rolas" in front of São
Tom¨¦ reads exactly at the level of the equator. With a
total of 1 001 km² (roughly the size of Berlin), São
Tom¨¦ and Principe is one of the smallest African
The islands are of volcanic origin and jut out of the
sea. The highest point at 2,024 m is Pic São Tom¨¦ on the
island of the same name. The landscape on both islands
is characterized by steep mountain slopes with dense
rainforest and numerous waterfalls. Principe is located
around 140 km north of São Tom¨¦, where the mountains
reach heights of up to 948 m above sea level.
The capital São Tom¨¦ is in the northeast on the
island of the same name.
Due to the equatorial location of the island state,
there is a tropical climate with only minor seasonal
temperature fluctuations and high humidity. The average
temperature is 26 ¡ã C, the maximum values are around
35 ¡ã C. At high altitudes, a maximum of 6,000 mm of
precipitation can fall; in the lower regions, there is
an average of 1,000 mm per year. In principle, more
precipitation falls on the windward sides of the islands
(southwest, windward side).
Flora and fauna
Primary rainforest with over 800 plant species
dominates on the two islands, of which around 120 are
endemic. Parts of the rainforest were cleared by the
Portuguese colonialists to plant plantations. In the
northeast of the islands (slipstream sides) there is wet
savannah with light trees and shrubs.
The wildlife on the islands is particularly rich in
bird life (eg cranes, herons, marabus) and numerous
frogs, snakes and chameleons, while mammals are almost
completely absent. On the island of Principe, the Obo
National Park is a protected area for flora and fauna
with large stocks of the African gray parrot.
Around 157,000 people live in the island state of São
Tom¨¦ and Pr¨ªncipe, almost half of them in cities or
settlements. The capital São Tom¨¦ on the island of the
same name has around 50,000 residents. According to COUNTRYAAH,
population density is 157 people per square kilometer.
The residents of the islands are predominantly
descendants of black African slaves (88%), who were
mostly members of Bantu tribes and call themselves "Forros".
Mulattoes make up around 10% of the total population,
and a small Portuguese minority also lives here. The
official language is Portuguese, and the colloquial
language is also Creole (Creol), a mixture of Portuguese
and African languages.
Almost all the residents of the islands are
Christians, over 80% belong to the Catholic Church,
Protestants are a minority.
At the time of the Portuguese colonial rule, there
was a kind of health system for the workers on the
plantations, so the average life expectancy at São Tom¨¦
and Pr¨ªncipe was often higher than in other African
countries (around 67 years today). Almost half of the
population is younger than 15 years. The rate of
population growth is currently 1.6%. About 80% of the
population can read and write.
According to the 1990 constitution, the island nation
of São Tom¨¦ and Pr¨ªncipe is a presidential republic with
a multi-party system. The head of state is the President
elected for a term of five years (Manuel Pinto da Costa,
since September 2011), who is also the
commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He can be
re-elected once. The Prime Minister as head of the
government (Gabriel Arcanjo da Costa, since December
2012) is elected by the National Assembly and appointed
by the President.
The legislature lies with the National Assembly
(Assembl¨¦ia Nacional) with 55 seats. The people are
elected directly by the people for a term of four years.
The legal system is based on the Portuguese.
São Tom¨¦ and Pr¨ªncipe is divided into two provinces
(the two main islands), which in turn are divided into
seven districts. Principe has had its own regional
parliament since 1995.
The economy of the island state of São Tom¨¦ and
Pr¨ªncipe depends on the production and export of cocoa.
The cocoa plant is cultivated on 80% of the available
acreage and generates almost 90% of the total export
earnings. The government is trying to diversify the
economy. The mainstays are tourism, the leasing of
fishing rights and, not least, the oil reserves in the
Gulf of Guinea. So far, however, the basic problems
persist: an economy based on a single export product,
great poverty (54%) among the poorly educated population
and a high inflation rate. The country is still
dependent on international aid.
The agricultural sector employs the vast majority of
the population in the form of subsistence farming. In
addition to cocoa, coffee, oil palms, bananas and
pineapples are also cultivated for export. For their own
use, jams, sweet potatoes and cassava are grown. The
waters around the islands are very rich in fish, and
fishing plays an important part in supplying the
population. Much of the food has to be imported.
The industry on São Tom¨¦ and Pr¨ªncipe is hardly
developed, in some small businesses food is processed
and textiles and wood products are manufactured; Beer
production is also an industry. Oil resources in the
Gulf of Guinea could prove to be an important raw
material, and São Tom¨¦ and Principe agreed with Nigeria
in an agreement in January 2002.
The most important trading partners for the import of
goods (food, machinery, fuel) are Portugal and Angola,
for the export (cocoa, coffee, palm oil) it is the
The road network covers approximately 380 km, of
which approximately 250 km are paved. The airport in the
capital Sâo Tom¨¦ is served by international airlines.
The currency is the dobra (= 100 c¨ºntimos), with the
US dollar playing a major role in the economic activity
of the islands.