Sao Tome and Principe is an island nation in Central Africa

Sao Tome and Principe

Anthem of São Tomé and Principe

Sao Tome and Principe is an African island country located in the Gulf of Guinea 360 km west of the coast, almost exactly on the equator. It includes the two main islands of Sao Tome and Principe, 160 km apart, and small rocky islets. The Territory has a total land area of 1,001 km², including the island of São Tomé (859 km²). From the 15th century until 1975 the Territory was a colony of Portugal. The official language is Portuguese.

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Both main islands are of volcanic origin, with volcanic cones prominent in their topography, rising 2,024 meters on Sao Tome Island and 821 meters on Principe Island. There are many craters, frozen lava flows, and the tops of the mountains are topped by finger-shaped rock islands. The shores of the islands are very indented, steep and rocky for most of their length, but are extremely picturesque. The climate is equatorial, warm and humid. The average January temperature on the coast is 26°C, July – 23°C, annual rainfall is 1000-1100 mm, in the mountains – up to 3000 mm. It rains almost all year round, but on the island of Sao Tomé there is a short relatively dry period – from December to March. The islands are covered with lush humid equatorial forests, but the animal world is very poor: you can meet monkeys (gverets, drills, macaques), a variety of birds, lizards, chameleons, snakes. But rich is the sea fauna, represented by a variety of fish, crabs, shrimps, lobsters, oysters and other mollusks.

The first Europeans who visited the islands in 1470 found them uninhabited. The modern population (about 200,000 people), the Santomeans, was formed by settlers from the mainland. Their culture, while African in origin, bears clear traces of Portuguese influence. In the capital and the only major city, São Tomé, the Portuguese fort and several other ancient buildings have been preserved.

Foreign tourists are attracted by the pristine natural beauty, volcanoes, distinctive culture and colonial architecture. The tourist season is limited by long rains and strong currents make the sea unsafe for swimming. Undeveloped tourist services make up for low prices. In 1992, the tourist complexes Bombom (on the island of Principe) and Santana (on the island of Sao Tome) were opened. Hotel Miramar in 1995, leased by investors from Germany for 20 years.


The islands are of volcanic origin. Relief – mountainous, volcanic cones. Mountains cover 2/3 of the territory of Sao Tome, while in Principe they are found in the southern part. The coastal plains are in the west of Sao Tome and in the north of Principe. The highest point of Sao Tome is the Picu de Sao Tome (2,024 m), while that of the island of Principe is the Principe Peak (948 m). On the coast, there are many shallow bays inaccessible to large ocean-going ships. The coastline is 209 km long.

The climate is tropical maritime. Its formation is influenced by the air masses of the Atlantic Ocean, mountains and marshes of the coastal areas. The average annual air temperature on the plains is +26 ° (Celsius), at an altitude of 700 m above sea level – +20 ° The high peaks are covered with snow. In the hottest month (January), the air temperature on the plains may rise to +30 °, and in the coldest (July) – may fall to +20 °. The rainy season is October-May, while the dry (gravana) season is June-September. The greatest amount of precipitation falls in the south-west and central mountainous areas of São Tomé (3500-5000 mm). The river network is well developed. The major rivers of Sao Tome are Agua Grande and Io Grande, while the rivers of the Principe are Agulhas, Banzu and Papagayu. The rivers are fast and rapids. The population is supplied with fresh drinking water.

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Forests occupy 32% of the territory (2001). The flora of the islands includes about 560 plant species, but 19.4% of the species are endemic in Sao Tome and 12.7% in Principe. Tropical forests are preserved only on the mountain slopes above 900 m above sea level. Peach and citrus trees also grow on the mountain slopes, covered with dense bushes of tall grass capim. On the coasts and at the mouths of the rivers are mangrove forests. In coastal areas grow bananas, mangoes, almonds, cocoa trees, coconut palms, both (tropical giant tree), papaya (melon tree), pinna and bread trees. Since 1990, the island of São Tomé is implementing a program of forest conservation financed by the European Union. The animal life is not rich. The forest is home to the African civet (a spotted and striped animal), wild boars, weasels, bats, flying dogs, and macaque monkeys. Of reptiles there are black cobra, many species of lizards, chameleons. Diverse avifauna: nectar-birds, many species of parrots, turako, hawks, etc. Mosquitoes and mosquitoes are widespread throughout the area. Coastal waters are rich in fish (shark, barracuda, flying fish, sea bass, needlefish, tuna). Shrimp, lobster, land and sea crabs, and oysters are abundant.


Christianity is practiced by 90% of the population (the majority are Catholics – 83%). The spread of Christianity began in the mid-16th century. Part of the indigenous population holds traditional African beliefs.

Architecture of cities is designed in the Portuguese style. Buildings in villages and in city outskirts are wooden, built on piles, the roof is covered with planks or palm leaves. The art of circular wooden sculpture (carved figures of people and animals) is well developed. Original lamps made of coconut shells, which local artisans decorate with national ornaments.

National literature began to appear in the second half of the 19th century in Portuguese on the basis of folklore. Later there were works in the Forro language. C. da Costa Alegre was the founder of the national poetry (the first collection of Poems was published in 1916). Prose has been developing since the 1930s (the collection Maria from the City (1937) by F. de Almeida, etc.). Contemporary writers and poets: Alda do Estpirito Santo (author of the text of the national anthem), Francisco Costa Alegre, Albertino Braganza, Carlos do Estpirito Santo (novel Memories of the Present, 2001). Olinda Beja and Rafael Branco belong to the younger generation of writers.

The traditions of folk dance are preserved: d’jambi, ussua (a dance similar to the European mazurka), tesha (common on the island of Principe), and the bliga game dance. For decades, vocal and instrumental ensembles Afrika Negra, Sangazuza, and Untuyeh have performed with great success. An indispensable attribute of holidays and celebrations are traditional theatrical pantomimes of dansu kongo, puita and sokope (all age groups take part in them, and some participants are dressed in ritual costumes), as well as theatrical musical performances stleva and tlundu. The theater is semi-professional. The contemporary theater group “Pau pretu” (“Black Stick”) is popular. The folk theater “Chiloli” puts on plays based on medieval European texts, one of them being The Tragedy of the Marquis de Mantua and the Emperor Charlemagne. The name of contemporary actor and director Miguel Hurst is widely known.

Elementary education is compulsory (four years). It is received from the age of six. Secondary education (7 years) consists of two cycles – 5 and 2 years. In 1997, the OPEC Fund for International Development financed the construction of a polytechnic. In 2000 there were 579 teachers and 20.3 thousand pupils in 71 elementary school and 414 teachers and 8.4 thousand pupils in 10 secondary schools respectively. In 2001, 93.67 thousand people were literate (49.19 thousand men and 44.49 thousand women).

Malaria, tuberculosis and yellow fever are common, and there are AIDS patients. Medical personnel are trained abroad.


The history of the settlement of the archipelago is not conclusively studied. The first Europeans to land on the islands (1470-1471) were the Portuguese navigators Pedro Escobar and João Gomes. The settlement of São Tomé (named after St. Tomé) began in 1493 and that of Principe (named after one of the heirs to the Portuguese throne) in 1502. The colonists planted the town of São Tomé and began to grow sugar cane from Madeira.

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In 1522 the islands were declared a Portuguese possession. Slaves, mostly from Angola, were used extensively on the sugar cane plantations. During the 16th-17th centuries, Dutch and French pirates took control of the islands for a period of time. Slave raids forced many colonists to leave the archipelago. In 1753 the seat of colonial administration was transferred to Principe. For almost 400 years, Sao Tome and Principe served as a transshipment base for slave ships en route from Africa to Brazil (slaves called them “islands of death”) and for merchant ships en route from Portugal to India. From 1800 the islands began to grow coffee, and from 1822 cocoa beans. In 1852 São Tomé regained its administrative center. Slavery was officially abolished in 1869, but in fact existed there until 1875. The authorities began to encourage the influx of new settlers “contratados” – contract laborers from Angola, Cape Verde and Mozambique (from 1901 to 1928 to São Tomé arrived 100 thousand people). Living and working conditions equaled the status of slaves. In 1951 the archipelago was declared an “overseas province” of Portugal. In response to the massive refusal of the population in 1952-1953 to work for Europeans, the authorities burned villages and arrested the rebels. In 1963, 90% of workers went on strike. The first political organization, the Committee for the Liberation of São Tomé and Principe (CLSTP), was founded in 1960. Since 1972, it advocated for independence under the name of the Movement for the Liberation of Sao Tome and Principe (MLCTP). In August 1974, Portugal recognized the islands’ right to self-government.

On July 12, 1975, the independent Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe (DSTP) was formed. The first president of the country was Manuel Pinto da Costa, leader of the DSTRP. The Government adopted a non-capitalist course of development. The economic transition was complicated by the mass exodus of qualified Portuguese administrators, civil servants, and most contract workers. Under pressure from the IMF, the country embarked on structural adjustment programs (SAPs) in 1987. On September 10, 1990, a new constitution was adopted, enshrining multipartyism and limiting the president’s tenure to two 5-year terms. In November 1990, the DSTP was renamed the Movement for the Liberation of Sao Tome and Principe-Social Democratic Party (MLSTP-SDP). In multi-party elections in April 1991, Miguel Trovoada won. Following the recommendations of the IMF and the World Bank, the government adopted a course of austerity. In October 1994, the parliamentary elections were won by the former ruling MLSTP party, the SDP. Presidential elections in 1996 were held in two rounds, as a result of which M. Trovoada was re-elected for a second term (52.74% of the vote). In 1997-1998 there were demonstrations and strikes of civil servants discontented with the arrears of wage payments and a 140% increase in fuel prices. In the July 29, 2001 presidential election, the Independent Democratic Action (IDA) candidate, 59-year-old entrepreneur, won out of five candidates. (IDD) candidate Fradique de Menezes, 59, a businessman, won with 56.3 percent of the vote. Following the March 3, 2002 parliamentary elections, the MLSTP-SDP is represented in the National Assembly by 24 deputies, the Party of Democratic Unity – Reflection Group (PDK-GR) by 23, and the Ue-Kedadji coalition (a five-party bloc) by 8.

The republic’s economy is directly dependent on foreign aid. It receives financial assistance from the IMF under the HIPC (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) program, which is provided to the poorest countries with high foreign debt. In 2001, international creditors wrote off $200 million (83% of the country’s foreign debt). In 2001 international creditors wrote off $200 million (83% of the country’s foreign debt). Despite falling world prices for cocoa beans and higher fuel prices, in 2001 GDP growth increased by 3% (due to a 45% increase in cocoa bean exports). In 2002, GDP was $200 million. GDP WAS $200 MILLION. The inflation rate in 2002 was 9%. The United States and Nigeria are interested in developing the deposits of oil found in 2002 (its reserves are estimated at 6-11 billion barrels). The latter has been actively involved in oil field exploration and is estimated to receive 60% of revenues from oil production. In July 2003, an attempted military coup was averted.

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The majority of the population is concentrated on Sao Tome Island. The population density is 169.1 persons per sq km. The average annual growth rate is 3.18%. Fertility is 41.36 per 1000 and mortality is 6.89 per 1000. Infant mortality – 44.58 per 1,000 newborns. Life expectancy – 66.63 years (65.11 for men and 68.21 for women). (All figures are as of 2004).

The population consists of Bantu-speaking Africans, mestizo Forrus (descendants of mixed marriages of Portuguese and African colonists), Angolaris (descendants of Angolan slaves), and contract workers from Angola, Cape Verde, and Mozambique and their descendants. 1.5% of the population is European, mostly Portuguese. In addition to Portuguese, forro (local Creole on a Portuguese basis) and several dialects are widespread. Major cities: Neves, Santana, Santo Amaro and Trindade (São Tomé), Santo António (Principe).


Agrarian country. One of the poorest countries in Africa, one of the largest per capita consumers of foreign aid.

Agriculture. Cultivated land accounts for 2% of the territory. Agriculture employs half of the economically active population. The main agricultural activity is growing cocoa beans. Also bananas, beans, cinnamon, coffee, corn, cassava, papaya, pepper and soybean are grown. Natural climatic conditions allow to harvest two or three crops of vegetables a year. Livestock development is hampered by outbreaks of bovine tuberculosis and African swine plague. Poultry farming (chicken breeding) is developing. Fishing is oriented to the domestic market.

Manufacturing: textile, timber, clothing, and agro-processing industries (production of palm oil, soap, and beer). There is an increase in production in the construction sector.

Imports far exceed exports.

80% of exports are cocoa beans, copra (dried coconut kernel), bananas, coffee and palm oil. Export partners are the Netherlands (30.1%), Poland (11.8%), Canada (9.7%), Germany, the Philippines and Spain (7.5% each), Belgium (6.5%), France and Portugal (4.3% each). The main imports are petroleum products, mechanical and electrical equipment, and food products. The main exporters are Portugal (51.4%), Germany (10.1%), Great Britain (7.6%) and Belgium (6.3%).

Sao Tome and Principe is an island nation in Central Africa

1. The Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe is an island state in Central Africa.

This country is located in the Gulf of Guinea, 360 kilometers west of the African coast, almost exactly on the equator.

2.Sao Tome and Principe is one of 11 sub-Saharan African countries.

3.The state includes two main islands of volcanic origin, Sao Tome and Principe, spaced 140 kilometers apart, and six other smaller rocky islets.

The islands were discovered by Portuguese explorers between 1469 and 1471. The first settlement on the island of São Tomé was founded in 1493 by the Portuguese Alvaro Caminha, who received the land as a gift from the Portuguese Crown. In the same manner the island of Principe was settled in 1500.

5.By the middle of the 16th century, with the help of slave labor, the Portuguese turned the islands into the largest suppliers of sugar to European markets.

The geography of Sao Tome and its surroundings has changed dramatically over the past century. 6.After 100 years sugar production has declined and by the mid seventeenth century Sao Tome was just a temporary port of call.

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7. In the early nineteenth century cocoa and coffee began to be cultivated here. The abundant volcanic soils produced a rich crop and plantations covered practically the entire cultivable area of the islands. By 1908, São Tomé was the largest producer of cocoa in the world.

8. The island of São Tomé is 48 kilometers long and 32 kilometers wide. The island of Principe is 6 by 16 kilometers.

9. In volume (1,001 km²), São Tomé and Principe is the smallest of the African States, excluding the Seychelles.

10. The country is divided into two provinces, São Tomé and Principe. The provinces, in turn, are divided into 7 districts: six in Sao Tome and one in Principe.


11.The capital of Sao Tome and Principe is the city of Sao Tome, located on the island of the same name. It is a picturesque little town on the northeast coast of the main island.

12.Lying along the shores of the bay, this city is full of Portuguese colonial buildings and beautifully manicured parks and gardens. The city center is small enough to be covered on foot in two hours.

13.The capital city has a 16th century Cathedral and National Museum in the 400-year-old Fort San Sebastian on a peninsula 1.2 kilometers from the city center.

14. Principe is a very small island. Visitors to this island are rare, they attract a lot of attention from the locals, so the general adoration and indulgence of all the whims of tourists here is guaranteed.


San Antonio is the capital of the Principe and has a colonial style but with a rather modest overall appearance.

16.The town itself is about the size of a European village and the hotels look like country pensions, which gives San Antonio a very patriarchal and cozy feel.

17.There are not too many places of interest around town, but the nature of the area and the absolute peacefulness (except for the mighty “breath” of the ocean) invite you to spend some quiet time on the beach or in the shade of the palm groves.

18.It is also possible to dive here. These places, although not provided with a high level of service, but its unique underwater world.

19. The highest point of the island of Sao Tome is the Picu de Sao Tome (2024 meters), the island of Principe is the peak of Principe (948 meters).

20. Of the approximately 160,000 people living in the country, almost all live on the island of São Tomé; only about 6,000 live on the island of Principe. There are six groups of people in the country.

21. The first are the Creoles, the mestizos. They are descendants of the first Portuguese colonists and African slaves brought to the island from Benin, Gabon and the Congo. The second group is the descendants of slaves from Angola, who survived a shipwreck in 1540. They are now primarily engaged in fishing.

The third group consists of the descendants of slaves freed by the abolition of slavery. The fourth group consists of workers from Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde who are temporarily contracted to work on the islands.

23. The fifth and sixth are the children of contract workers born on the islands and Europeans (especially Portuguese), respectively.

24. São Tomé and Principe is the country with the highest natural population growth in the world.

25. São Tomé and Principe is the smallest Portuguese-speaking country in the world.

26. The African culture of the country experienced strong Portuguese influence during the colonial period and is still associated with Portugal.

27.Since the island was discovered on St. Thomas the Apostle’s Day, hence the name St. Thomas (São Tomé), so has become the name of the city and the country.

28. Both islands are prone to droughts and experience significant soil erosion due to the loss of forested areas. Forests here occupy about 3% of the territory. Tropical forests have survived only on the mountain slopes above 900 meters above sea level.

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The climate of São Tomé and Principe is maritime equatorial, hot and humid. The average temperature is +26 C in January on the coastline and +23 C in July, with annual rainfall of 1,000-1100 mm and up to 3,000 mm in the mountains.

It rains almost all year round, but there are short and relatively dry periods from June to September on Sao Tome Island, where due to the relief features several local zones with their own microclimate have been formed. The wettest month is March, when it rains for 8-12 hours a day and the temperature is around +30 C.

31.The flora of the islands includes about 560 plant species, but 19.4% of them are endemic on Sao Tome and 12.7% on Principe.

32.On the mountain slopes, covered with dense thickets of tall grass, kapim also grows peach and citrus trees.

Mangrove forests on the coasts and river mouths. In coastal areas grow bananas, mangoes, almonds, cocoa trees, coconut palm, oba (tropical giant tree), papaya (melon tree), hin and bread trees.

34.The animal life is not rich. African civets, wild boars, weasels, bats, flying dogs, and macaque monkeys inhabit the forest. Of reptiles, there are black cobra, many species of lizards, chameleons.

Diverse avifauna: nectarina, many species of parrots, turaco, hawks and other birds. Mosquitoes and mosquitoes are widespread throughout the area.

Coastal waters are rich in fish (shark, barracuda, flying fish, sea bass, needlefish, tuna). Shrimp, lobster, land and sea crabs, and oysters are abundant.

37. Since the 19th century, São Tomé and Principe’s economy has been based on plantation farming. By the time of independence, Portuguese plantations occupied 90% of the cultivated land.

38.The country became independent on 12 July 1975, when the independent Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Principe was proclaimed.

39.After 1975 the plantations were taken over by various state agricultural enterprises and later privatized.

40.The main crop grown in São Tomé and Principe is cocoa, which accounts for more than 80% of all exports.

41.Also exported in small quantities are coffee, copra, bananas, cinchona bark, and palm oil.

42.In addition, the country grows breadfruit, millet, cassava, corn, yams.

43.More than 60% of the goods exported go to the Netherlands.


44.Besides agriculture, the main sectors of the economy of São Tomé and Principe are fisheries and a poorly developed industrial sector (processing of agricultural products and production of basic consumer goods).

45. In 1999, São Tomé and Principe produced the Millennium Clock Coin, which struck the clock at exactly 00:00 on 1 January 2000. This device is now housed in the Feodosia Museum of Money.

46.There is no railroad here. The total length of roads is 320 km, 218 km of which are paved. There are three airports in the country. There are regular flights to Portugal, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

47.The islands have excellent potential for tourism development and the government is trying to improve the tourist infrastructure.

48. The nature of the islands, except for the huge cocoa plantations, is the same as it was before the human arrival. The picturesque volcanic landscape with the abundance of rocky precipices and the picturesque capes flowing into the azure waters of the ocean, reminds of the blessed Canary Islands or the exotic Seychelles.

49. The city of Trinidad on the island of Sao Tomé is also a very pleasant town. Here you can visit the waterfall of Cascades San Nicolaouche near the city or use Trinidad as a starting point for hiking around the island.

50. The lush jungle, clear waters and unbelievably natural Portuguese colonial architecture in its combination with the local landscapes will make a vacation in this country a true retreat for body and soul.

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