Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe

República Democrática de São Tomé e Príncipe

CAPITAL : São Tomé

FLAG : The flag consists of three unequal horizontal stripes of green, yellow, and green; there is a red triangle at the hoist and two black stars on the yellow stripe.

ANTHEM : Independéncia Total (Total Independence).

MONETARY UNIT : The dobra (D B ) is equal to 100 centimos. There are coins of 50 centimos and 1, 2, 5, 10, and 20 dobras, and notes of 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 dobras. D B 1 = $0.000108 (or $1 = D B 9,201) as of May 2003.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : The metric system is used.

HOLIDAYS : New Year's Day, 1 January; Martyrs' Day, 4 February; Labor Day, 1 May; Independence Day, 12 July; Armed Forces Day, first week in September; Farmers' Day, 30 September. The principal Christian holidays also are observed.



Except for the coastal flatlands, where cocoa and coffee plantations predominate, São Tomé and Príncipe are dominated by forestland. Above 1,370 m (4,500 ft), the tropical rain forest changes to cloud-mountain forest. There is little livestock, but domestic fowl are abundant.


Portuguese, the official language, is spoken in a Creole dialect that reveals the heavy influence of African Bantu languages.


São Tomé and Príncipe is divided into two provinces, corresponding to the two islands, and seven counties, of which six are on São Tomé. The Island of Príncipe was granted autonomy, which is has exercised since 29 April 1995.


A small citizen's army was formed by the MLSTP government after Portuguese troops were withdrawn. There are also several hundred Angolan troops.


The mineral industry was not significant in the islands, and mineral wealth remained largely unexplored. Lime deposits were exploited for the local market, and small clay and stone open-pit operations supplied the construction industry.


São Tomé has very little industry; the industrial sector constitutes only about 10% of the GDP. Light construction items, textiles, soap, beer, fish, bread, and palm oil are produced on the islands. Manufacturing declined by two-thirds between 1987 and 1998, while industry as a whole grew.


The Ministry of Agriculture maintains a library in São Tomé. The Center of Technical and Scientific Documentation, also in São Tomé, has an extensive library of specialized documents on agriculture and fisheries.


A national insurance and reinsurance company was founded in 1980. There is also an insurance fund for civil servants.


All imports require a license. Customs duties are levied, but recent information on rates and dutiable items is not available. In 1987, a state enterprise marketed all exports and imports of 12 basic commodities.


Housing on the islands varies greatly, from the estate houses of the plantation headquarters to the thatch huts of the plantation laborers. Some town buildings are wooden; others are mud block with timber, as are plantation-labor dormitories. Nearly 90% of all housing is wood. Of existing housing units, over 80% were principal residences, about 25% had electricity, and 10% had plumbing.


São Tomé maintains libraries at the Center for Technical and Scientific Documentation (45,000 volumes) and the national assembly (1,000 volumes). A general National Museum was founded in 1976 and located in the Fortress of Saint Sebastian, constructed in 1585. Its exhibits are mainly of African and religious art.


Cooperative movements sponsored by the MLSTP function as part of the government's economic development program. The Youth Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe is a major youth organization for youth ages 15 to 24. There are YMCA/YWCA branches in the country. The Red Cross also has a national chapter.


Rei Amador (d.1596), who rebelled against the Portuguese and almost overran the island in 1595, is a national hero. Alda de Espírito Santo (b.1926) is a poet and nationalist leader. Manuel Pinto da Costa (b.1937), the secretary-general of the MLSTP, became the country's first president on 12 July 1975, a post he held until his party was defeated in the elections of 1991.


São Tomé and Príncipe has no territories or colonies.


A Educacao na Republica Democratica de S. Tomé e Príncipe: analise sectorial. Lisboa: Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian, 1986.

Abshire, David M., and Michael A. Samuels (eds.). Portuguese Africa: A Handbook. New York: Praeger, 1969.

Chilcote, Ronald H. Emerging Nationalism in Portuguese Africa: Documents. Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1972.

Garfield, Robert. A History of São Tomé and Príncipe Island, 1470–1655: The Key to Guinea. San Francisco: Mellen Research University Press, 1992.

Gibson, Richard. African Liberation Movements. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972.

Hodges, Tony. São Tomé and Príncipe: from Plantation Colony to Microstate. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1988.

Nevinson, Henry Wood. A Modern Slavery . With an introduction by Basil Davidson. London: Daimon Press, 1963 (orig. 1906).

Shaw, Caroline. São Tomé and Príncipe . Oxford: Clio, 1994.

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