Sao Tome Principe

 

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 plantation slave labour, 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. The recent discovery of oil in the Gulf of Guinea promises to attract increased attention to the small island nation.

 

Geography:
Location: Western Africa, islands in the Gulf of Guinea, straddling the Equator, west of Gabon
Geographic coordinates: 1 00 N, 7 00 E
People:
Population: 183,176 (July 2012 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 44.7% (male 40,777/female 39,386)

15-64 years: 52.2% (male 46,114/female 47,509)

65 years and over: 3.2% (male 2,634/female 3,086) (2011 est.)

Government:
Country name: conventional long form: Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe

conventional short form: Sao Tome and Principe

local long form: Republica Democratica de Sao Tome e Principe

local short form: Sao Tome e Principe

Government type: republic
Capital: name: Sao Tome

geographic coordinates: 0 12 N, 6 39 E

time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Communications:
Telephones – main lines in use:  7,700 (2009)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 102,500 (2009)
Transportation:
Airports: 2 (2012)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 2

1,524 to 2,437 m: 1

914 to 1,523 m: 1 (2012)

Military:
Military branches: Armed Forces of Sao Tome and Principe (FASTP): Army, Coast Guard of Sao Tome e Principe (Guarda Costeira de Sao Tome e Principe, GCSTP), Presidential Guard (2010)
Military service age and obligation: 18 years of age (est.) (2004)

Economy:

This small, poor island economy has become increasingly dependent on cocoa since independence in 1975. Cocoa production has substantially declined in recent years because of drought and mismanagement. Sao Tome has to import all fuels, most manufactured goods, consumer goods, and a substantial amount of food. Over the years, it has had difficulty servicing its external debt and has relied heavily on concessional aid and debt rescheduling. Sao Tome benefited from $200 million in debt relief in December 2000 under the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) program, which helped bring down the country’s $300 million debt burden. In August 2005, Sao Tome signed on to a new 3-year IMF Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) program worth $4.3 million. Considerable potential exists for development of a tourist industry, and the government has taken steps to expand facilities in recent years.