Sao Tome and Principe

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República Democrática de São Tomé e Príncipe
Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe
Flag of Sao Tome and Principe
Coat of arms of Sao Tome and Principe
flag coat of arms
Official language Portuguese
Capital Sao Tome
Form of government republic
Government system semi-presidential democracy
Head of state President
Evaristo Carvalho
Head of government Prime Minister
Jorge Bom Jesus
surface 1,001 km²
population 210,240 (estimated as of 2020)
Population density 210 inhabitants per km²
Population development   +1.78% (2016)
gross domestic product
  • Nominal
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nominal)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 350 million ( 185. )
  • $ 638 million ( 184th )
  • 1,687 USD ( 146. )
  • 3,072 USD ( 157. )
Human Development Index 0.609 ( 137th ) (2018)
currency Dobra (STD)
independence July 12, 1975 (from Portugal )
National anthem Total independence
Time zone UTC + 0
License Plate STP
ISO 3166 ST , STP, 678
Internet TLD .st
Telephone code +239
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São Tomé and Príncipe , Portuguese São Tomé e Príncipe [ sɐ̃w̃ tuˈmɛ i ˈpɾĩsɨpɨ ], is an island state in the Gulf of Guinea , about 200 km off the coast of Africa west of Equatorial Guinea and Gabon . The island of São Tomé is named after Saint Thomas ; Príncipe is the "island of the prince" (or: the "prince").

Geography and climate

São Tomé and Príncipe is the second smallest state in Africa after the Seychelles . The two eponymous islands are located between the islands of Bioko and Annobón, which belong to Equatorial Guinea .

Over 90 percent of the population live on the larger, southern island of São Tomé , which is 48 kilometers long and 32 kilometers wide. It is the more mountainous of the two islands. The highest point is 2024 meters. The capital of the same name is on São Tomé. The northern, smaller island of Príncipe is about 16 kilometers long and six kilometers wide; its highest point is 927 meters.

Course of the Cameroon Line

Both islands are part of a mountain range formed by volcanic activity along the Cameroon Line , which continues on the African continent in Cameroon . In São Tomé and Príncipe the volcanoes are no longer active. The Pico Cão Grande is the natural landmark of the island, it is a volcano - hardened with 663 m height.

The southern tip of São Tomés is only two kilometers north of the equator , the associated island of Rolas is directly crossed by the equator.

In São Tomé and Príncipe there is a hot and humid tropical climate with rainy and dry seasons, influenced by the mountainous topography . The temperature shows hardly any seasonal fluctuations; the average annual temperature is 28 ° C on the coast and 20 ° C inland. The annual rainfall ranges from 1000 mm in the northern lowlands to 5000 mm on the south-western mountain slopes. The rainy season runs from October to May.


The biggest cities are:

rank city Population
1 Sao Tome 67,000 Água Grande
2 Trindade 16,140 Mé-Zóchi
3 Santana 10,290 Cantagalo
4th Neves 10,068 Lembá
5 Guadalupe 07,604 Lobata


Large sea creatures are:

  • Striped dolphins
  • Clymene Dolphin
  • Slender dolphin
  • Rein dolphin
  • Bryde's whale
  • Humpback whale
  • blue whale
  • Killer whale
  • Bottlenose dolphin

The islands are home to a wide variety of bird species, as well as frogs, snakes, and chameleons. There are also large numbers of African gray parrots in the Obo National Park on Principe .


The population of the state is made up of Mestizos , Angolares, Forros, Servicais, Tongas and Europeans (especially Portuguese). The annual population growth for 2010 was estimated at 2.4%.

About half of the residents of São Tomé and Príncipe live in cities and settlements.

In addition to the official language Portuguese, which also functions as the lingua franca , various Creole languages based on Portuguese and western Bantu are spoken on the islands : Saotomian (70,000), Principal (1,500) and Angolar (5,000).

About 80% of the population are Catholics , another 10% are Protestants , New Apostolic and traditionalists . São Tomé and Príncipe forms a Catholic diocese (since 1534); Pope John Paul II visited the island nation in 1992.

Population development

year population
1950 60.002
1960 64,253
1970 74,253
1980 94,949
1990 113,893
2000 138.606
2010 174,776
2017 204,327

Source: UN


Infant and child mortality was 3.4% in 2016 and life expectancy was 66 years. The country is affected by malaria . In 2006, government spending on healthcare was US $ 120 per capita (purchasing power parity).


The illiterate population is clearly in the minority among adults . Their share is 12.1% (2009) . Half of the country's teachers are underqualified. São Tomé and Príncipe has universities, including a state university , the Universidade Pública de São Tomé e Príncipe , which opened in 2014 . There is a training center for agriculture, the Centro de Aperfeiçoamento Técnico Agro-Pecuário . 98% of girls and 97% of boys go to primary school , the proportion of children who go to secondary school is 38%. The educational standard in the island state is to be raised through several state-financed funding programs . As a result, the first successes can be seen. For example, the training rate among young men increased. One problem with the education system is the high number of girls dropping out of school. The country's government is trying to counteract these social problems with partner organizations such as the Red Cross.


Plaque in honor of Eddington in Sundy

The Portuguese navigator João de Santarém is considered the discoverer of the islands . He was in the service of the merchant Fernão Gomes , who had acquired the right from the Portuguese King Alfonso V to explore 100 leguas of the African coast annually at his own expense in the name of the Portuguese crown. On December 21, 1471 he discovered São Tomé and on January 17, 1472 Santo António (or Antão ); the latter was renamed in 1502 in Príncipe .

In 1485 the first Portuguese branch was founded. On the one hand, the islands served as a hub for the slave trade between Africa, Portugal, Brazil and the Caribbean islands; on the other hand, Portugal relocated Portuguese Jews and prisoners expelled by the Inquisition here. In 1572 São Tomé and in the following year also Príncipe were directly subordinated to the Portuguese crown. In the period that followed, a plantation economy developed with changing monocultures , initially sugar cane in the 16th to 18th centuries , then coffee in the first half of the 19th century and finally cocoa from around 1850 ; At the beginning of the 20th century, the islands were even the largest cocoa producer in the world.

On August 13, 1913, a treaty was signed by Germany and England, according to which the two islands were to be incorporated into the German colonial empire as compensation for Germany in the event of Portugal's insolvency . With the loss of the German colonies in the Versailles Treaty in 1919, the German-English Treaty of 1913 also became obsolete.

On May 29, 1919, the solar eclipse expedition led by Arthur Stanley Eddington on the volcanic island of Príncipe experimentally confirmed the correctness of Einstein's general theory of relativity .

The end of the colonial era began with the establishment of various liberation movements outside the country. In 1960, the Comité de Libertaçao de São Tomé e Príncipe (CLSTP) was founded in Ghana as the forerunner of the Movimento de Libertação de São Tomé e Príncipe (MLSTP) (from 1972). In 1974, after the Carnation Revolution in Portugal, the MLSTP was recognized as a legitimate representative, which eventually led to independence on July 12, 1975. The MLSTP ruled the country as a unity party for the first 15 years after the end of the colonial era.

In 1991, Miguel Trovoada was elected president of the country. In 1995 there was a coup ; the following governments proved to be relatively unstable.

On January 5, 1999, Guilherme Posser da Costa was appointed Prime Minister. However, corruption scandals , in which forged Treasury notes valued at US $ 500 million were the main role, quickly troubled the government. In March 1999 the Minister of Finance and the President of the Central Bank resigned.

In August 2001, Fradique de Menezes was elected President.

On July 16, 2003, there was a military coup led by Major Fernando Pereira. President Fradique de Menezes was on a state visit to Nigeria at the time , so only the prime minister and a few other ministers were arrested by the coup plotters. The very next day the putschists announced a transitional government and new elections. The reason given for the coup was the uncertain political situation on the island, which had arisen from oil discoveries a few years earlier and the resulting quarrels. After eight days, the military coup was ended bloodlessly under pressure from the international community. In a “Memorandum of Understanding”, greater participation of the population in important government decisions was granted. There was a government reshuffle with the Prime Minister remaining, but replacing seven ministers.

In September 2004 there was another government reshuffle following a bribery scandal in which Prime Minister Maria das Neves and other ministers were involved. In July 2006 President de Menezes was re-elected.

Manuel Pinto da Costa won the presidential election of 2011 in the runoff election on August 7, 2011. He took up his new office on September 3, 2011. Pinto da Costa had previously served as President. He did not run for the runoff in the next election on August 7, 2016, so Evaristo Carvalho won as the remaining candidate.



To this day, the literary landscape in São Tomé and Príncipe is characterized by difficult conditions. Publishers are rare, and there are no printing houses in the republic itself. The authors are often published in other Portuguese-speaking countries such as Portugal and Angola.


Since the 19th century, the literature in São Tomé and Príncipe developed, especially with the poetry of Caetano da Costa Alegre (1864-1890).

Francisco Stockler (Fâchiku Stockler, 1834–1881) used the Sao-Tomesian Creole ( forro ) in poetry; however, it did not establish itself as a written language.

The landowner Marcelo da Veiga (1892–1976), who came from the island of Príncipe, was the first to regularly refer to his black skin color and to São Tomés and Príncipes' situation as a colony and island. These first signs of national consciousness in São Tomé and Príncipe later came to full bloom in the neorealistic work of Francisco José Tenreiro (1921–1963). The anthology Poetas de São Tomé e Príncipe , published in 1963 by the Casa dos Estudantes do Império in Lisbon , was of particular importance for the manifestation of a São Tomé literature, as a sign of an awakened national consciousness . The poets Maria Manuela Margarido (1925–2007) and Alda Espírito Santo (1926–2010) were among the most important names of this phase alongside Tenreiro.

The first novel from São Tomé was Maiá Poçon by Viana de Almeida in 1937 (1903-?). The most important novelist São Tomé and Príncipes, however, is the neorealist Sum Marky (1921–2003), since his novel O Vale das Ilusões from 1956. In No Altar da Lei (1960) and in Vila Flogá (1963), for example, he addressed the massacre von Batepá in 1953, when landowners took up state repression and sparked a wave of violence against the black majority in São Tomé and Príncipe. He took up the subject of colonial oppression again in his last novel Crónicas de uma Guerra Iventada (2001).

The period after independence in 1975 was characterized by little literary activity in São Tomé and Príncipe. After two politically and sociologically motivated, literarily not very ambitious collections of poetry in 1977, and the likewise not literarily relevant volume É Nosso o Solo Sagradao da Terra by Alda Espírito Santo, published in 1979, noteworthy works did not appear again until the end of the 1980s. Poets such as Fernando de Macedo , Maria Olinda Beja and Francisco Costa Alegre should be mentioned among them. While Sacramento Neto is considered the most productive novelist in the island republic, the work of Aíto Bonfim (Ângelo de Jesus Bonfim) is primarily characterized by its variety of themes and forms.

The Portuguese author Ruy Cinatti (1915–1986) also wrote frequently on São-Toméic subjects. The young lyricist Tome Nicolau is active with his poetry in social networks such as Facebook or Youtube and has appeared in poetry slams in Portugal .


São Tomé cinema has been developing since 2011 . The internationally best-known figure among the Sao-Tome filmmakers is the actor Ângelo Torres (* 1968), who is best known as an actor in Portuguese cinema .


Administrative division

Today's two-tier administrative division of São Tomé and Príncipes goes back to the Portuguese colonial administration, which structured the area similar to the administrative division of Portugal . The two main islands that gave it their name were each divided into a concelho (district), which were then divided into several freguesias (communities). Since independence in 1975, the two former counties have been called provinces, while the parishes have become districts.

Today the country is divided into the Province of São Tomé with six districts and the Province of Príncipe with one district.

Domestic politics

The parliamentary republic has existed since independence in 1975 with a constitution from 1990.

The National Assembly ( Assembléia Nacional ) has 55 members and is elected every four years using proportional representation. The president is directly elected every five years and can be re-elected once. Every citizen aged 18 and over is entitled to vote.

The elections on October 12, 2014 resulted in the following distribution of seats in parliament:

  • ADI ( Acção Democrática Independente ) - 33 seats
  • MLSTP-PSD ( Movimento de Libertação - Partido Social Democrata ) - 16 seats
  • PCD-GR ( Partido de Convergência Democrática - Grupa de Reflexão ) - 5 seats
  • UDD ( União dos Democratas para Cidadania e Desenvolvimento ) - 1 seat

Foreign policy

São Tomé and Príncipe is a member of a number of multilateral organizations. In addition to the United Nations and the African Union , these are above all the community of Portuguese-speaking countries and in particular the African countries with Portuguese as the national language , the country also belongs to the Latin Union .

The country has representations in 19 countries worldwide, including seven of its own embassies (Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Gabon, Nigeria, Belgium / EU, Portugal, USA), the rest are honorary consulates .

There are good and close relationships with the former colonial power Portugal . Relations with the neighbors in the Gulf of Guinea , Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea are also good. Issues relating to the use of oil and gas reserves are of particular importance. There is a joint economic zone with Nigeria for the development of raw material deposits in the sea area between the two countries.

São Tomé and Príncipe was one of the few states that did not recognize the People's Republic of China , but the Republic of China on Taiwan under international law.


Administrative division

São Tomé and Príncipe is divided into two provinces, these in turn into seven districts. The island of São Tomé and the surrounding islands form the province of the same name with the city of São Tomé as the provincial capital. This province is divided into six districts.

location province District surface Residents Capital Remarks
SaoTome AguaGrande.png Sao Tome Água Grande 16.9 km² 51,886 Sao Tome Água Grande is the smallest, but the most populous of the seven districts.
SaoTome Cantagalo.png Sao Tome Cantagalo 119.0 km² 13,258 Santana
SaoTome Caue.png Sao Tome Caué 267.0 km² 5,501 São João dos Angolares The district of Caué is largely covered by forest and is difficult to access.
SaoTome Lemba.png Sao Tome Lembá 229.5 km² 10,696 Neves Lembá is home to the highest São Tomé mountain, the 2024 m high Pico de São Tomé .
SaoTome Lobata.png Sao Tome Lobata 105.0 km² 15,187 Guadalupe
SaoTome MeZochi.png Sao Tome Mé-Zóchi 122.0 km² 35.105 Trindade
Sao Tome map.png Sao Tome 859.4 km² 131,633 Sao Tome
SaoTome Pague.png Principe Pagué 142.0 km² 5,966 Santo Antonio do Principe The island of Príncipe and the surrounding islands form the province of Príncipe and at the same time the seventh district.
SaoTome Districts.png Sao Tome and Principe 1,001.4 km² 137,599 Sao Tome


Returning fishing boats on São Tomé


In 2000, 15.3% of households received their income from agriculture, 36.5% from industry, trade and services and 11.5% from the public sector.

The island state, which is still economically insignificant today, exports almost only cocoa (share in 2009: 95%). This economic orientation dates back to the colonial times . Natural resources also include other agricultural products, fisheries and oil deposits that are currently not yet extracted.

  • The agriculture generated 14% (in addition to cocoa is the production of coconuts , copra , cinnamon , pepper , coffee , bananas , beans , vanilla and poultry ) of gross domestic product. The total cultivated area extends over 484 square kilometers.
  • The share of industry in the gross domestic product was 15% in 2009. Are produced or processed u. a. Shirts, soap, beer , fish and crabs, and palm oil .
  • On services , especially the tourism , accounted in 2009 for 71% of gross domestic product. In recent years, São Tomé and Príncipe has increasingly supported private initiatives to develop tourism.

Exports to the value of 14.0 million euros contrasted with imports to the value of 93 million euros in 2009. Food and live animals, fuels and capital goods are imported from Portugal (43%), France (16%) and Great Britain (14%) , among others . The most important export countries are Portugal, the Netherlands , Spain , Germany and the People's Republic of China .

In 2009, São Tomé and Príncipe had on balance no foreign debt (see below: Petroleum), after the foreign debt in 2002 still amounted to 318 million US dollars. São Tomé and Príncipes gross domestic product is one of the smallest in the world and amounted to approximately 350 million US dollars in 2016; the gross domestic product per inhabitant in 2016 was around 1,800 US dollars. The inflation rate in 2009 was 17%.


By selling offshore oil drilling concessions in the Joint Development Zone (JDZ), which is co-managed with Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe earn 40% of the income, while Nigeria receives 60%.

In the 1990s, geologists suspected about eleven billion barrels of oil under and around the islands. For journalists and scientists - according to Bartholomäus Grill in Die Zeit in 2003 - the island state is known as "black Brunei " or "second Kuwait " and has four billion barrels of oil reserves . According to the German Institute of Global and Area Studies , crude oil of up to one billion barrels was detected in the deep sea of ​​São Tomé and Príncipes by 2006.

In 2003, Chevron offered an advance of $ 49.2 million to test the exploration blocks. The oil company Total also registered rights for the first of nine exploration blocks. Nevertheless, no test drilling was carried out because the company doubted its success.

Offshore production of crude oil and gas is expected in the future. The geostrategic location in West Africa , which is considered to be the future of drilling sites, has U. led to the first oil-political race between the People's Republic of China and the USA . Both are currently working more diplomatically to obtain exploration and drilling rights for related companies. In this context, the US seems interested in building a naval base on São Tomé .

São Tomé and Príncipe is not a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) , but has observer status and has applied for membership.

State budget

The state budget in 2016 comprised expenditures of the equivalent of 127 million US dollars , which was offset by income of the equivalent of 109 million US dollars. This results in a budget deficit of 5% of GDP .

In 2006 the share of government expenditure (in% of GDP) was in the following areas:


Air traffic

São Tomé has an international airport, Aeroporto International de São Tomé , which is only served by Portuguese, Gabonese and Angolan airlines from abroad and offers connections to Libreville , Luanda , Lisbon , Malabo and Accra . The small state line STP -São Tomé Airways has only one aircraft and technically connects the two islands with each other. The few international flights are handled by Portuguese partners.

Web links

Wiktionary: São Tomé and Príncipe  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : São Tomé and Príncipe  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikimedia Atlas: São Tomé and Príncipe  - geographical and historical maps

Individual evidence

  1. National Statistics Institute
  2. [1]
  3. [2] (PDF) International Monetary Fund
  4. [3] United Nations Development Program ( UNDP ),
  5. São Tomé and Príncipe: Districts, Cities & Urban Localities - Population Statistics in Maps and Charts. Retrieved March 2, 2018 .
  6. ^ Sao Tome and Principe. In: Retrieved May 29, 2017 .
  7. a b c d The World Factbook
  8. São Tomé and Príncipe | Lä Retrieved May 29, 2017 .
  9. Country information from the Federal Foreign Office on São Tomé and Príncipe
  10. World Population Prospects - Population Division - United Nations. Retrieved July 28, 2017 .
  11. Country Profile. Retrieved December 15, 2017 .
  12. ^ UNDP - São Tome and Principe, Country profile of human development indicators ( Memento of January 19, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (English), accessed on August 8, 2011
  13. ^ UNDP - International human development indicators ( Memento from January 19, 2013 in the Internet Archive ), accessed on August 8, 2011
  14. ^ The children of São Tomé and Principe | Humanium - Together for children's rights. Retrieved May 29, 2017 (American English).
  15. Isabel Castro Henriques: São Tomé e Príncipe: A invenção de uma sociedade , Lisbon: Vega 2000
  16. Michael Fröhlich: Imperialism - German Colonial and World Policy 1880-1914 , Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, Munich 1994, ISBN 3-423-04509-4 , page 123
  17. Tony Hodges & Malyn Newitt, São Tomé e Príncipe: From plantation colony to microstate , London: Westview, 1988
  18. The most important source for the first post-colonial decades is Gerhard Seibert, Comrades, Clients and Cousins: Colonialism, Socialism and Democratization in São Tomé and Príncipe , Leiden: Brill, 2006
  19. Fernando Cristóvão (Ed.): Dicionário Temático da Lusofonia. Texto Editores, Lisbon / Luanda / Praia / Maputo 2006, p. 641ff ( ISBN 972-47-2935-4 )
  20. ^ Taiwan loses another friend as Sao Tome and Principe severs diplomatic ties: Shanghaiist
  21. See Brígida Rocha Brito and others, Turismo em Meio Insular Africano: Potencialidades, constrangimentos e impactos , Lisbon: Gerpress, 2010
  22. ^ Mathieu von Rohr: The promised paradise . In: Der Spiegel . No. 16 , 2008, p. 126-130 ( online ).
  23. The Treasure of São Tomé DIE ZEIT, 2003, accessed on November 11, 2014
  24. New oil discoveries in Africa: Can conflicts be avoided? Number 7, GIGA 2007, accessed on November 11, 2014
  25. WTO ¦ Members and Observers. Retrieved December 15, 2017 .
  26. ^ The Fischer World Almanac 2010: Figures Data Facts, Fischer, Frankfurt, September 8, 2009, ISBN 978-3-596-72910-4

Coordinates: 0 ° 19 ′  N , 6 ° 36 ′  E