Sao Tome and Principe Geography and History

Sao Tome and Principe [ sã  tu mε – pr ĩ sipi ] Republic in West Africa, which includes located in the Gulf of Guinea islands of São Tomé and Principe and small rocky islands. The population consists mainly of Bantu and mixed race. Cocoa, which is also the country’s most important export product, is grown on plantations. – The former Portuguese colony gained independence in 1975.


Climate and vegetation

The islands are located in the area of ​​the tropical, hot and humid rainy climate. The annual precipitation on São Tomé is between 2,000 mm (in the northwest) and 7,000 mm (in the southwest), on Príncipe it reaches over 4,000 mm in the south. In the south of the country there is a dense tropical rainforest, which turns into a tropical mountain forest in locations over 1,000 m above sea level on São Tomé. Since the north is protected from the rainy trade winds (from the southwest), you will find savannah-like hill country there. Elephant grass, baobabs and various types of palm thrive here. Large parts of Príncipes are also covered with rainforest.


Around 1475, the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe were colonized by Portugal (part of the crown domain since 1558); 1641–44 they were in Dutch possession. A center of sugar cane cultivation in the 16th century, coffee and cocoa cultivation dominated since the 18th century. For centuries the islands were a stopover in the slave trade to America. Revolts by slaves who worked on the island’s plantations until the 20th century were brutally suppressed on several occasions (for example in 1953, with around 1,000 dead). In 1951 the islands were converted into an overseas province of Portugal with limited self-government. Forced labor was not abolished until 1961; All African residents were also given Portuguese citizenship, but illiterate people were excluded from the right to vote.

Since 1960 there have been efforts to achieve independence, which was achieved on July 12, 1975, after the revolution in Portugal (1974). President M. Pinto da Costa (Re-elected in 1980 and 1985) established a socialist one-party system based on the Movimento de Libertação de São Tomé e Príncipe (MLSTP) founded in 1972. After all the plantations were nationalized, almost all Europeans left the country. As a result of the poor economic situation that followed, there were several civil unrest and coup attempts from 1979 onwards. In the course of establishing a multi-party system (since 1990), the Partido da Convergência Democrática – Grupo de Reflexão (PCD – GR) won the majority of seats in the January 1991 elections. In March 1991, the population elected the non-party candidate M. Trovoada (1975-78 Prime Minister under da Costa, then imprisoned for years) as President (confirmed in office in 1996). The parliamentary elections in 1994 and 1998 won the former unity party MLSTP – PSD (name addition since 1990), which ruled with the party alliance MDFM – PCD after losing an absolute majority in the 2002 elections.

According to loverists, the new president was the businessman Fradique de Menezes (* 1942) after elections in 2001, in which Trovoada could no longer stand. In 2006 the population confirmed him in office. The parliamentary elections in the same year were won by the MDFM – PCD alliance, which supports the president, ahead of the MLSTP – PSD. First head of government was Tomé Vera Cruz (* 1953; MDFM-PCD) at the head of a minority cabinet. After his resignation, the ADI politician Patrice Trovoada (* 1962), a son of M. Trovoada, became the new Prime Minister in February 2008. After only three months in office, he lost this post due to a vote of no confidence in parliament. Joaquim Rafael Branco (* 1953; MLSTP – PSD) formed a new government. Social contrasts and widespread corruption put a strain on the domestic political climate. The competing interests of the parties dominated by family clans made sustainable economic and civil society development difficult. In 2009 an attempted coup failed. The opposition ADI won the parliamentary elections in 2010. Father Trovoada took over the office of Prime Minister again. In 2011, the former President M. Pinto da Costa was re-elected Head of State. After a successful vote of no confidence in Trovoada, the president appointed Gabriel Arcanjo Ferreira da Costa in December 2012(* 1954; MLSTP – PSD) as head of government. With that, the ADI lost government power. On October 12, 2014, regular elections to the National Assembly took place. The ADI won the absolute majority with 33 seats (2010: 26 seats). The MLSTP – PSD had 16 seats (2010: 21 seats). At the end of November 2014, Father Trovoada was again head of government. In the presidential elections on July 17, 2016, the ADI candidate and former Prime Minister E. Carvalho won around 49.8% of the vote in the first ballot. Incumbent M. Pinto da Costa received only around 24.8% of the vote. Before the runoff election on August 7, 2016, he withdrew his candidacy on charges of electoral fraud and called on his supporters to boycott the election. That was E. Carvalho’s victory secured in the second ballot. He won around 81.6% of the vote and was sworn in on September 3, 2016 in the presidency.

Sao Tome and Principe History