Sao Tome and Principe Overview

By | January 23, 2021
Official language Portuguese
Capital Sao Tome
Form of government Presidential democracy
Area 1.001 km²
Residents 157,000
Currency Dobra
Time zone UTC
License plate STP
Internet TLD .st
Telephone area code 00239 (Source: ALLCITYCODES)

Sao Tome and Principe Overview


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 countries. See Sao Tome and Principe country abbreviation.

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 °C, the maximum values ​​are around 35 °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, the average 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.

Political system

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 Netherlands.

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.