Sau Tome and Princepe
|THE SAU TOME AND PRINCEPE COAT OF ARMS|
Location of Sau Tome and Princepe within the continent of Africa
Map of Sau Tome and Princepe
Flag Description of Sau Tome and Princepe:The Sao Tome and Principe flag was officially adopted on November 5, 1975, shortly after gaining its independence from Portugal.
The red triangle symbolizes that hard-fought struggle for independence, and the two black stars represent the country's two main islands. The green, yellow and black are the Pan-African colors.
Official name República Democrática de São Tomé e Príncipe (Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe)
Form of government multiparty republic with one legislative house (National Assembly )
Head of state President: Manuel Pinto da Costa
Head of government Prime Minister: Patrice Emery Trovoada
Capital São Tomé
Official language Portuguese
Official religion none
Monetary unit dobra (Db)1
Population (2013 est.) 194,000COLLAPSE
Total area (sq mi) 386
Total area (sq km) 1,001
- Urban: (2011) 62.7%
- Rural: (2011) 37.3%
Life expectancy at birth
- Male: (2012) 62.3 years
- Female: (2012) 64.7 years
Literacy: percentage of population age 15 and over literate
- Male: (2010) 93.9%
- Female: (2010) 84.7%
GNI per capita (U.S.$) (2013) 1,470
1The dobra was pegged to the euro (€) from January 2010 at a rate of 24,500 dobras = €1.
About Sau Tome and Princepe
Discovered and claimed by Portugal in the late 15th century, the islands' sugar-based economy gave way to coffee and cocoa in the 19th century - all grown with African plantation slave labor, a form of which lingered into the 20th century. While independence was achieved in 1975, democratic reforms were not instituted until the late 1980s. The country held its first free elections in 1991, but frequent internal wrangling between the various political parties precipitated repeated changes in leadership and two failed coup attempts in 1995 and 2003. In 2012, three opposition parties combined in a no confidence vote to bring down the majority government of former Prime Minister Patrice TROVOADA. The new government of Prime Minister Gabriel Arcanjo Ferreira DA COSTA is entirely composed of opposition party members with limited experience in governance. The recent discovery of oil in the Gulf of Guinea promises to attract increased attention to the small island nation.
Geography of Sau Tome and Princepe
São Tomé, which is oval in shape, is larger than Príncipe, which lies about 90 miles (145 km) northeast of its sister island. The capital of the country, São Tomé city, is situated in the northeastern part of São Tomé island. The country’s closest neighbours are Gabon and Equatorial Guinea on the Atlantic coast of central Africa.
Relief and drainage
In the south and west of both islands, high volcanic mountains fall precipitously to the sea, although neither island has witnessed any volcanic activity in recent centuries. The mountains descend gradually to small plains in the northeast. São Tomé Peak, the highest point on the main island, rises to 6,640 feet (2,024 metres) above sea level, and Príncipe Peak on the smaller island reaches 3,110 feet (948 metres). These mountainous areas are deeply dissected by stream erosion, and spectacular isolated volcanic plugs stand out as landmarks. Swift and rocky streams rush down to the coast in every direction.
The climate is basically maritime and tropical, but, because of the rough topography, there is a wide range of microclimates. The prevailing moist southwesterly winds are intercepted by the mountains, so annual rainfall exceeds 275 inches (7,000 mm) in the southwestern part of São Tomé island, while the far northeast receives less than 30 inches (760 mm). The dry season, called gravana, lasts from June to September in the northeast but is scarcely discernible in the wetter regions. In the coastal areas the mean annual temperature is high, in the low 80s F (upper 20s C); the average relative humidity is also high, about 80 percent. Average temperatures decline sharply with elevation, and night temperatures fall below 50 °F (10 °C) at about 2,300 feet (700 metres). Above 3,300 feet (1,000 metres) fine misty rain falls almost continuously and the nights are cold, although frost and snow are unknown.
Plant and animal life
The original vegetation of the islands was luxuriant tropical rainforest, with a gradual transition from lowland forest to mist forest. Some of the islands’ area, mainly in the south and west, is still covered with rainforest. Much of this is secondary growth on abandoned plantation land. The flora and fauna include many rare and endemic species, reflecting the isolation and environmental diversity of the islands. Birds such as the ibis, shrike, and grosbeak can be found in Sao Tome and Principe. Many of the plants, birds, reptiles, and small mammals are threatened by pressure on the remaining rainforest.
Demography of Sau Tome and Princepe
- Ethnic groups
The population consists mainly of Forros (from forro, Portuguese for “free man”), descendants of immigrant Europeans and African slaves. Another group, the Angolares, descended from runaway Angolan slaves who were shipwrecked on São Tomé about 1540. The Angolares remained apart in the isolated southern zone of São Tomé island until the late 19th century, but they later spread throughout the country and became largely assimilated. Cape Verdeans form the largest group of resident foreigners; many have adopted São Toméan nationality. Angolans and Mozambicans make up most of the rest of the African immigrant community. Like the Cape Verdeans, they are relatively well integrated with the other islanders, because of a shared Luso-African cultural background. There is a small European population—primarily Portuguese—in the country.
Standard Portuguese is the official language and is understood by virtually all islanders. In addition, three Portuguese-based creoles are spoken: Sãotomense, spoken by the Forros and having by far the largest number of speakers; Angolar, the language of the Angolares, spoken on the southern tip of São Tomé; and Principense, spoken by only a few hundred individuals on Príncipe.
About four-fifths of the population belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. The remainder of the population is primarily Protestant, although there is a small percentage of Muslims. Traditional African religious practices and beliefs are widespread, even among adherents of other faiths.
- Settlement patterns
The population is concentrated in the drier and flatter areas of both islands. Whereas a third of the inhabitants live in São Tomé city and its outskirts, only about 5 percent live on the island of Príncipe. Many people live in dispersed settlements known locally as lucháns. Houses made of wooden planks and raised above the ground are typical of the local building methods, although there are also many concrete structures in the Portuguese colonial style. Many people still live in barracklike accommodations on the plantations.
- Demographic trends
Population growth is above the world average but below the average for sub-Saharan Africa. About two-fifths of the population is less than 15 years of age, and almost another one-third is younger than 30, assuring continued rapid growth. Life expectancy in the early 21st century was more than 65 years of age, relatively high for an African country and close to the world average.
Economy of Sau Tome and Princepe
Decades of colonial stagnation were followed by economic disruption after independence in 1975. Under the tutelage of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank since the mid-1980s, Sao Tome and Principe has tried to restore a functioning economy by devaluing its currency, reducing the budget deficit, privatizing formerly nationalized companies, attracting foreign investment, and removing price subsidies and controls. Despite all efforts and considerable inflows of foreign funds, however, the results of the imposed reforms did not match the original targets. During that time corruption became rampant, and mass poverty increased tremendously. In the late 1990s, IMF measures helped the country’s economy improve considerably, as did the advent of petroleum concessions sales, which continued into the 21st century.
Sao Tome and Principe’s economy has historically been dependent on agriculture, and much of the total agricultural area of the two islands belongs to the state. Until 1993 this land was divided into 15 large plantation enterprises, but, by the end of the decade, most of the former plantations were dissolved and their land distributed to smallholders and medium-sized enterprises on a usufruct basis as part of attempted agricultural reform. High levels of unemployment coexist with a critical labour shortage on the former plantations, where wages and working conditions are poor.
- Agriculture, forestry, and fishing
São Tomé is endowed with excellent conditions for tropical agriculture. The growing season is long, the volcanic soils are fertile, and there is no lack of water. Consequently, the economy remains dependent on plantation agriculture, especially cacao (grown for its seeds, cocoa beans). About two-fifths of the total land area is under cultivation, with cacao trees covering a little less than two-thirds of the cultivated land; coconut palms cover most of the remainder. Large areas of plantation land have been poorly maintained since independence; they are harvested from time to time but not otherwise tended. The country has never been self-sufficient in staple foodstuffs, and a combination of local eating habits, the legacy of the plantation economy, and foreign food aid has undermined the production of food crops for the local market.
Fine stands of timber remain in the mountains, but the difficulty of removing logs from the steep terrain and the pressing need for effective conservation limit long-term prospects. The country’s small size prevents farmers from keeping large herds of livestock, but conditions for poultry raising are quite favourable.
Fishing resources are limited by the narrow continental shelf. The domestic demand for fish exceeds supply by the local artisan fishermen, and trawlers from European Union countries pay small license fees for the right to fish in the country’s national waters. The deep-sea tuna resources of the Gulf of Guinea and shellfish in coastal waters represent the best hopes for fishery exports.
- Resources and power
There are numerous sites for small hydroelectric schemes but no large rivers for major installations. The islands have no known mineral resources, but the country claims an area of the Gulf of Guinea that may have considerable deepwater hydrocarbon reserves; in the late 1990s and early 2000s this potential attracted foreign investors who purchased exploration concessions. In 2001 Sao Tome and Principe and Nigeria reached an agreement to oversee the exploration and development of potential oil fields in the Joint Development Zone (JDZ), an area of overlapping maritime boundaries about 125 miles (200 km) from the Nigerian coast. The agreement was renegotiated in 2003, after which oil companies began bidding for the right to develop sections within the JDZ. The first exploratory drilling in the JDZ began in 2006.
Manufacturing, which accounts for a tiny fraction of the gross domestic product, is hampered by the small size of the domestic market, limited energy resources, and the lack of skilled labour. It consists mainly of small processing factories producing foodstuffs, beverages, soap products, bricks, and sawn wood for the domestic market.
- Finance and trade
Sao Tome and Principe is reputed to be the recipient of one of the highest amounts of foreign aid per capita in the world, but this has not prevented large budgetary and balance-of-payment deficits. There are several commercial banks active in the country, and the Central Bank of Sao Tome and Principe controls foreign exchange dealings and issues the country’s currency, the dobra. Cocoa, despite decreasing production, still accounts for almost all foreign exchange earnings from merchandise exports. Most of the cocoa is exported to The Netherlands. Portugal is the main source of imports.
Tourism is largely limited to the dry season and chiefly attracts individual travelers from Portugal and other European countries. The tourism sector has the potential to be a strong source of economic diversification for the country. The sector has expanded with some foreign investment, but development has been hindered by such obstacles as the presence of tropical diseases (notably malaria), the lengthy wet season, and the expense of traveling to the country.
- Transportation and telecommunications
Transportation assumes particular importance in this isolated microstate. There are no deepwater harbours, and large ships must anchor far out at sea and be unloaded by barge. Shipping links between the islands and with the outside world are erratic, and there are long delays in unloading cargo. The country’s primary ports are at São Tomé city and Neves, both on São Tomé island. The international airport near São Tomé city has been expanded and modernized. The telephone system and road network are both fairly good by African standards. Mobile phone use is very popular on the islands, and Internet service is available.
Government and Society of Sau Tome and Princepe
- Constitutional framework
Under the constitution of 1990 (since amended), the president, who is head of state, is directly elected to a five-year term and is limited to two successive terms. The prime minister serves as the head of government. The legislature is unicameral, with a 55-seat National Assembly. Assembly members are elected by popular vote and serve four-year terms. In April 1995 Príncipe became an autonomous region.
The political and judicial structures adopted at independence in 1975 were those of a single-party state modeled on the Soviet example, but the regime never formally proclaimed its adherence to Marxism-Leninism. Free elections for the legislative assembly and the presidency were established by the constitution of 1990 and first held in 1991. At that time close ties with eastern European countries and Cuba were replaced by improved relations with Portugal, France, and other Western countries.
SecuritySao Tome and Principe’s military is small and consists of army, coast guard, and presidential guard contingents. The country’s armed forces have received technical and training assistance from such countries as Portugal, Angola, and the United States.
- Health and welfare
There is one major medical centre for the country, in São Tomé city, which was created by uniting three existing hospitals, several public health posts, and a few private clinics. Malaria is endemic, although initiatives to curb the disease have shown progress since 2000. HIV/AIDS is present in the country, but its prevalence remains undetermined, as the stigma attached to being diagnosed with the disease and the subsequent lack of accurate reporting make the rate of infection difficult to monitor.
Almost all children attend primary school, which is compulsory for four years. Secondary education consists of two cycles of four and three years, respectively, but secondary schooling opportunities are not as widely available, and fewer students enroll. Vocational training and higher education options are limited, although there is a polytechnic institute (founded 1997), and Portugal’s Lusíada University opened a campus on São Tomé island in 2006. Some four-fifths of the adult population is literate.
Culture Life of Sau Tome and Princepe
History of Sau Tome and Princepe
The islands were visited (1471) by Pedro Escobar and João Gomes, the Portuguese explorers, and in 1483 the São Tomé settlement was founded. They were proclaimed a colony of Portugal in 1522. The Dutch held the islands from 1641 to 1740, when they were recovered by the Portuguese. Until the establishment of a slave-based plantation economy in the 18th cent., the islands were used mainly as supply stations on the shipping routes to Brazil and India.
São Tomé and Principe became an overseas province of Portugal in 1951 and received local autonomy in 1973. Following the 1974 military coup in Portugal, the new government recognized the islands' right to independence, granting it on July 12, 1975. Manuel Pinto da Costa, leader of the Gabon-based Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Principe (MLSTP), became the country's first president, and his party the sole legal one. The first years were marked by economic hardship caused by the departure of both the Portuguese and a large number of foreign workers. A severe drought and depressed cocoa prices hurt the economy during the 1980s.
A new constitution adopted in 1990 officially ended one-party rule. In 1991, the MLSTP lost the legislative elections and Miguel Trovoada, running unopposed as an independent candidate, won the country's first free presidential election. Principe was granted local autonomy in 1994 (effective 1995). A military coup in 1995 ended peacefully when the president was restored to office and parliament granted the rebel soldiers amnesty.
In July, 1996, Trovoada, this time running against former president Pinto da Costa, was reelected. The MLSTP, which had dominated parliament since 1994, won a majority of seats in the 1998 legislative elections. Inflation, unemployment, and the inability of the government to pay workers resulted in a series of strikes and demonstrations in the 1990s. Fradique de Menezes, the candidate of the opposition Independent Democratic Action party (ADI), was elected president in 2001; his main opponent was Pinto da Costa. In the parliamentary elections the following year, however, the MLSTP won a slim plurality of the seats.
In July, 2003, members of the military, complaining of social and economic decline, ousted President de Menezes, but an agreement was negotiated that resulted in his return to office. The development of offshore oil led to conflicts in the government in 2004 and accusations of corrupt practices; the president ultimately removed the prime minister and entire cabinet. Parliamentary elections in Mar.–Apr., 2006, resulted in a victory for the Force for Change Democratic Movement–Party for Democratic Convergence coalition (MDFM-PCD), which secured a plurality of the seats.
In July, 2006, de Menezes was reelected to the presidency. The MDFM-PCD–led government resigned in Feb., 2008, and a new government, led by the ADI, was formed. Four months later the new government lost a confidence vote, and a new coalition, led by the MLSTP and including the PCD and MDFM, was formed. Several dozen people were arrested on charges of attempting to overthrow the president in Feb., 2009. The Aug., 2010, parliamentary elections were won by the ADI. Pinto da Costa, running as an independent, was elected to succeeded de Menezes in Aug., 2011. The ADI minority government was dismissed in Dec., 2012, and replaced by an opposition coalition.
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