São Tomé and Príncipe, officially the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, is an island nation in the Gulf of Guinea. With a total area about 386 mi², it consists of two main islands (Island of São Tomé and Island of Príncipe) and several rocky islets. About 192 thousand inhabitants live in this Republic. The closest country neighbours are Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon and Nigeria.
The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, uninhabited until 1470, were part of Portugal’s possession from the 15th century until its independence on July 12, 1975. It is one of the members of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP).
As referred previously, São Tomé and Príncipe, were uninhabited when the first Portuguese settlers, João de Santarém and Pedro Escobar, came in. Then, the Portuguese brought in African slaves to develop sugar, and later, cocoa plantation. However, the rise of Brazilian competition and constant local rebellions drove agricultural culture to decline in the 16th century. In one of the several internal rebellions on the islands, a slave named Amador, regarded as a national hero, nearly overran the whole island of São Tomé. After the economic decline, the island become then an entrepôt of slaves.
Agriculture was aroused again only in the 19th century when the cultivation of cocoa and coffee were introduced. During these two centuries of the cocoa cycle, they created several structures for the provision of administrative services. Those administrative structures had a head of service and the decisions taken by him was sanctioned by the Governor of the colony who was assisted by a Governing Council and a Legislative Assembly.
In representation of the Government, there was the administrator of Príncipe with a large list of responsibilities and tasks. The colony was divided into two municipalities - the one of São Tomé and the one of the Prince - and several parishes.
In 1960, a nationalist group emerged in opposition to the Portuguese colonial domain. In 1972, the group became then the Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe (MLSTP), supported by the Marxist orientation. In 1975, after about 500 years of Portuguese control, the independence was granted.
After independence, a one-party Socialist rule was established by the MLSTP. Ten years after independence (1985), the country’s economic liberalisation began. In 1990, a new constitution instituted the multiparty rule.
The following year, the Democratic Convergence Party - Reflection Group (PCD-GR) won the parliamentary election. For the presidential election, the former Prime Minister Miguel Trovoada, who had been exiled since 1978, ran for the presidency unopposed and, thus, he was elected president. Since 1995, Príncipe has had a self-government with a participation of five members. In 1998, the MLSTP amended its name to MLSTP/PSD (Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe/Social Democratic Party), conquers the majority in the legislative elections and, thus, the party indicated the prime minister.
The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe are located in the equator (across Islet of Rolas) and about 300 km off the west coast of Africa. The entire archipelago is part of the Cameroon volcanic mountain line.
The climate is tropical, hot and humid through the year and the temperatures varies from 68 °F to 86 °C. There is a wide range of microclimates in the country mainly defined according to rainfall, temperature and location. The temperature varies according to altitude and landscape.
Of the country’s total population, about 180,000 live on São Tomé and 7,500 on Príncipe. All of them are descended from a diversity of ethnic groups taken to the islands.
In the 1970s there were two significant population flows - the exodus of most of the 4000 Portuguese residents and the massive Sao Tomean refugees from Angola influx. The Luso-African culture predominates in the islets. Almost all residents belong to the Roman Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, Nazarene, Christian Congregation or Seventh-day Adventist churches, which retain close ties with churches in Portugal
• Urban population - 65.1%
• Rural population - 34.9%
Although the vast majority of the São Toméans speak Portuguese, some individuals speak three Portuguese-based Creoles. The Angolares developed their own language from African languages.
Portuguese is the official language of São Tomé and Príncipe and it is spoken by about 98.4% of the population and a significant part of them consider it as their mother tongue. Also, they speak Portuguese Creole which are: Forro, Cape Verdean Creole (8.5%), Angolar (6.6%) and Principense (1%).
French (6.8%) and English (4.9%) are foreign languages taught in schools.
São Tomé and Principe is a semi-presidential representative democratic republic in which the president is the head of state and the prime minister is the head of government.
The Constitution, in force since 2003, is the supreme and fundamental law of the country. Other important laws of the country are: Law No. 8/1991 (Judicial System Act), Law No. 10/1991 (Judicial Magistrates Statute), Law no. 5/1997 (Civil Service Statute).
• MLSTP/PSD - Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe/Social Democratic Party
• ADI - Independent Democratic Action
• PCD-GR - Democratic Convergence Party - Reflection Group
• MDFM - Force for Change Democratic Movement (created by Fradique de Menezes)
• Other parties without parliamentary representation
• Unicameral parliament - National Assembly - 55 members
• Constitution: 2003