São Tomé and Príncipe Geography and Population

By | January 8, 2023

OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe


POPULATION: 194000 (2015)

AREA: 1000 km²

OFFICIAL/OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: Portuguese, Creole Portuguese

RELIGION: Catholics 90%, others (especially Protestants) 10%



ENGLISH NAME: Sao Tome and Principe


POPULATION COMPOSITION: black and mixed 97%, white 3%

GDP PER CAPITA INH.: $ 1535 (2012)

LIFE EXPECTANCY: men 63 years, women 66 years (2015)




São Tomé and Príncipe, archipelago and independent republic of the Gulf of Guinea off Central Africa. The islands were Portuguese until 1975; now the small country is one of the poorest and least known in the world, but there is prospect of economic progress if the country’s hitherto unused oil reserves have the scope suggested by preliminary studies.

National Flag

The flag was officially introduced in 1975. It is created by the liberation organization MLSTP and contains the Pan-African colors, green, yellow and red. The stars represent the two islands of the state and show that the country is part of black Africa. The red triangle symbolizes the blood of martyrs sacrificed in the struggle for independence. The green color stands for the islands’ vegetation, the yellow for the cocoa.


The country consists of the two main islands and several small islands, some of which are inhabited. They are all of volcanic origin, and especially in São Tomé there are many extinct volcanoes; highest is Pico de São Tomé (2024 m). The islands are near the equator and have tropical climates almost without seasons. The rainfall is abundant (7000 mm) on the south-west slopes, where most of it is covered by dense, impassable rainforest, while decreasing to 1000 mm on the northeast coasts.

By the end of the Portuguese colonial era, the economy was almost entirely based on cocoa plantations. With independence in 1975, the owners returned to Portugal and the plantations were nationalized. At the same time, the protected market in the mother country was lost and production fell dramatically. In 1985, much was privatized; some plantations were leased to foreign companies and others were leased for small-scale farming and conversion to food production. Cocoa production rose somewhat, but low cocoa prices in the world market quickly took the air out of growth. Coffee and coffee exports have also been characterized by uncertain prices. Food production on small farms is still carried out as sweatin many places and cannot meet the needs of the country. Imports are thus far greater than exports, and measured per share. per capita, São Tomé and Príncipe have the world’s second largest foreign debt. In 2000, the state of the state was considerably relieved of its debt burden and in 2006 further debt relief was envisaged.

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The islands have large forest resources, but they are not exploited. Fishing is limited to local coastal fishing, while fishing licenses in the marine territory are sold to EU countries.

In 2000, the country entered into an agreement with Nigeria on joint exploration for oil in the projected oil-rich marine area between the countries. Nigeria accounts for 60% of expenditure and receives 60% of any revenue. The first production licenses were sold to international companies in 2004. The increased activity in connection with oil investments is the main reason for the high growth rates of recent years.

Over 95% of the population lives on São Tomé and especially in the metropolitan area. Most are descendants of slaves and contract workers who came from other Portuguese colonies, as well as of mixed marriages between them and Portuguese. The Roman Catholic Church holds a dominant position. The school system did not have high priority for the colonial power, and up to 2/3 are still illiterate.

São Tomé and Príncipe are very beautiful islands with good sandy beaches and should be able to attract tourists. Even the uneven rainforests with many rare and endemic species could be an attraction, but tourism is limited by high transport costs and lack of facilities.


Official language is Portuguese, but the majority of the population speak Portuguese-based Creole languages, called dialects; most are Santomensic, the other Cape Verde, Angolar or Príncipe Creole. For culture and traditions of Sao Tome and Principe, please check allunitconverters.


The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe were uninhabited, as they were approximately 1470 was discovered by Portuguese sailors; around 1500 they were colonized by Portugal. With the use of slaves imported from West Africa, the colony became the world’s largest sugar producer until it was outcompeted by Brazil around 1600. Subsequently, the main income came from the transatlantic slave trade, with the islands serving as a gathering place and intermediate station for Portuguese slave traders. In the 1800’s. gave coffee production new economic progress; At the end of the century, cocoa cultivation was used and before World War I was the largest producer in the world.

São Tomé and Príncipe became an overseas province in 1951. After the Carnival Revolution in Portugal, they gained independence in 1975 with Manuel Pinto da Costaas first president. In 1991, the country’s first democratic elections were held; when Costa’s party, the MLSTP-PSD (Movimiento Libertaçao de São Tomé e Príncipe-Partido Social Democrático), lost power and Miguel Trovoada (b. 1937) became president. The MLSTP-PSD won the parliamentary elections in 1994 and 1998, thus regaining government power; Trovoada was re-elected president in 1996. At the 2001 presidential election, Fradique de Menezes (b. 1942), who is associated with the reform-oriented party MDFM-PCD, won. However, political instability remains; Among other things, Menezes was briefly deposed during a military coup in 2003. He continued in the presidential post until 2011, when the office was taken over by the country’s first president Manuel Pinto da Costa.

São Tomé and Príncipe Geography