São Tomé and Príncipe Overview

(República democrática de São Tomé and Príncipe). West African state (1,001 km²). Capital: São Tomé. Population: 158,000 (2007 estimate). Language: Portuguese (official), Creole-Portuguese. Religion: Catholics 70.3%, non-religious / atheists 19.6%, Protestants 7.1%, others 3%. Monetary unit: dobra (100 cents). Human Development Index: 0.643 (128th place). Borders: Atlantic ocean. Member of: UN and AU, EU associate.


It is located off the Guinean coast, and consists of the two islands of the same name (São Tomé, 836 km² and Príncipe, 128 km²), bordered by rocky islets. Located in a position of particular strategic importance, off the coast of Gabon and Nigeria, the archipelago was a Portuguese colony from the century. XV. It was then established (1951) in the province of Overseas, then achieved independence in 1975, as part of the dissolution of the Portuguese colonial empire in Africa, which almost immediately followed the coup d’état in Portugal (25 April 1974). These two islands, with their luxuriant vegetation (over 28% of the country’s surface in 2007 was covered with forests), represent the main administrative entities of the archipelago: Príncipe has enjoyed a certain autonomy since 1992; São Tomé, where the capital of the same name is based, is divided into six districts.


São Tomé e Príncipe is a democratic republic. According to the 1990 Constitution, the President of the Republic and the National Assembly, to which legislative power is entrusted, are elected by direct suffrage.. The country’s judicial system is based on Portuguese law and local customs. At the top of the judiciary there is the Supreme Court of Justice, whose members are appointed by the National Assembly, then we find the courts of first instance with civil and criminal jurisdiction. Primary school is compulsory for only 4 years. The secondary school is divided into two cycles, the first of 5 years and the second of 2. The small number of residents has made possible a process of literacy uniformly spread throughout the territory (the percentage of illiterates is equal to 12.1%). There is no university on the islands.


The islands rest on the underwater ridge known as the Cameroon, which crosses the Gulf of Guinea with a NE-SW trend and continues on the continent with the mountains of Cameroon. The archipelago, of volcanic origin, is mountainous, dominated by basalt and trachytic rock reliefs, with volcanic cones that reach 2024 m in the Pico de São Tomé, on the island of the same name; this is located about 260 km from the coast of Gabon, has a compact, oval shape, and to the south it is divided into a short peninsula. The coasts are mostly high and rocky, rarely offering good landings. Príncipe is located 210 km off the coast of Equatorial Guinea. Placed between 0º and 2º lat. N, therefore in the middle of the equatorial area, the islands have copious rains and high temperatures all year round, with maximums between June and October.


The Portuguese are also responsible for the population of the archipelago; in fact, on the islands, uninhabited at the time of discovery, black groups from the continent, especially from Angola, were brought to, Portuguese too, and naturally they were used for planting work (the density is 158 residents / km²). The majority of the population is made up of mulattoes (79.5%); then followed by blacks (17.6%), Portuguese (0.2%) and other groups (2.7%). In the last decades of the twentieth century, with the absence of migratory contributions from abroad (black laborers from Mozambique and Angola and Cape Verdeans), only the natural increase contributed to the growth of the population, given that the birth rate remains high and mortality has decreased thanks to improved sanitary conditions. The capital São Tomé, located on the northeastern coast of the homonymous island, concentrates approx. one third of the population (the urban population was 61% in 2008); Santo Antônio.


The islands still show, especially in the interior, vast strips of the lush rainforest from which they were once entirely covered; However, large areas are now occupied by cocoa, coffee and sugar plantations, introduced by Portuguese settlers. The flora and fauna are very similar to those of neighboring Equatorial Guinea, although some endemic species are present. The environmental problems affecting these islands are linked to the processes of deforestation and soil erosion. The Obo National Park is the only protected area in the country.


Discovered by Portuguese navigators in 1451 (or according to others, in 1471), from 1485 the islands passed into the prerogative of some Portuguese feudal lords and in 1522 directly to the Portuguese crown, to which they remained, except for a brief interval of Dutch dominion (1640- 44). Their strategic position (300 km from the coast of the Gulf of Guinea) meant that the colonizers used them for centuries as a refueling station for ships and a stopover for the slave trade. In 1951 the archipelago was declared an overseas province, with administrative and financial autonomy and a deputy in the Portuguese National Assembly. Later, however, nationalist movements took shape and in particular the Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe (MLSTP). In 1974, according to remzfamily, an agreement was signed in Algiers between the delegates of Lisbon and those of the MLSTP according to which the archipelago gained independence on July 12, 1975. The organization of the state then assumed a socialist orientation, with the establishment of a one-party political system. After overcoming the threat of a couple of coups (1978 and 1980), following the worsening of the economic situation, the government loosened its ties with the socialist countries by taking a position of non-alignment (1984), a prelude to a gradual diplomatic approach. and commercial to the United States and Western Europe. From 1987, therefore, a process of liberalization of internal politics began, which in 1990 led to the promulgation of a new Constitution that guaranteed the introduction of multi-partyism. The first political elections since independence were held in 1991 and in the same year Miguel Trovoada was elected president, re-elected in 1996. The 1998 elections awarded the MLSTP victory and, in 1999, Guilherme Pósser da Costa was elected prime minister. In 2001 he became president Fradique de Menezes, rich entrepreneur. In the 2002 legislative elections, the MLSTP obtained an absolute majority: however, it had to divide the government with the newly formed coalition called the Democratic Movement of the Forces of Change (MDFM / MP). In the 2003 presidential elections, Fradique de Menezes was re-elected, but while in Nigeria in July of that year, a military coup, led by Fernando Pereira, overthrew the democratically elected government: nine days later, in exchange for a ‘ amnesty the coup leaders returned full powers to the President. Elections took place in March 2006: the Democratic-Liberal Alliance (MDFM / MPL), formerly the opposition, surpassed the MLSTP in terms of votes. In July the presidential elections reconfirmed F. de Menezes with 60% of the votes.

São Tomé and Príncipe Overview