São Tomé and Príncipe - Poverty and wealth



São Tomé and Príncipe is an agricultural country with the majority of its population living in rural areas and plantations with poor quality roads, no electricity, and little access to medical help and education. The deeply indebted government of São Tomé and Príncipe cannot afford to spend more on health and education for its people. Spending on health declined over the years and constitutes slightly more than 10 percent of total expenditures. In 1992 all São Toméan hospitals and medical centers had 556 beds and 66 practicing doctors. Although the life

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
São Tomé and Príncipe N/A N/A N/A 365 337
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Nigeria 301 314 230 258 256
Equatorial Guinea N/A N/A 352 333 1,049
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

expectancy is relatively high for an African country, there are about 40,000 cases of malaria infection per year as well as numerous cases of respiratory and diarrheal diseases. There were also 32 registered AIDS cases, although it is estimated that the actual figure is higher.

The education sector receives about 10-15 percent of total budget expenditures. There were 69 primary and 10 secondary schools in 1997. Although the average adult literacy rate was 73 percent in 1991, one-third of the population between the ages of 6 and 20 never went to school. The network of secondary and tertiary institutions is inadequate; there are also shortages of school equipment, textbooks, and properly trained teachers. Although there is some foreign financial assistance directed into education, it cannot cover all of the problems.

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