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« Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #40 of 54: Rwanda | Main | Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #42 of 54: Senegal »

August 10, 2006

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #41 of 54: Sao Tome and Principe

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) ---
Flag of Sao Tome and Principe

Formal Name: Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe.

Term for Citizens: Sao Tomeans.

Capital: Sao Tome. Population: 67,000.

Independence Achieved: July 12, 1975, from Portugal.

Major Cities: Sao Tome.


The Islands of Sao Tome and Principe are off the coast of West Africa. Sao Tome and Principe is estimated to cover 386 square miles. Sao Tome and Principle are a group of islands located in the Gulf of Guinea. The Islands resulted from extinct volcano. It is about 125 miles off West-Central Africa. Its nearest neighbors are Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. The islands are covered by lush rainforests. They have tropical climate, with two distinct seasons, wet and dry.


The population of Sao Tome and Principe is estimated at 161, 000.

Ethnic Groups: The main ethnic groups are Fang, other Africans, Mestizo and Portuguese.

Languages: Fang, Creole, and Portuguese.

Religion: The country is predominantly Roman Catholic.

Education: Elementary education is available to most pupils. Literacy rate is estimated at 79.3%.

Economy: The islands have traditionally been covered with crop plantations. The chief crops are cocoa, coconuts, palm kernels, cinnamon, coffee. Livestock (cattle, goats, chicken, sheep) and fishing are also traditional activities. Attempts are currently made at light industries like textile and soap manufacturing, and fish processing. GDP estimate: $200 million; Per capita GDP: $1, 200. Monetary unit: Dobra.

History and Government:

The country is divided into two provinces. At the center is a president who selects a prime minister to govern the day-to-day affairs of the government.


It is reported that when the Portuguese passed through the Islands of Sao Tome and Principe, in the late fourteen hundreds, that they were not inhabited, and that they decided to use them as way stations in their trade along the coast of West Africa. First, they encouraged the Portuguese to settle on the two Islands and plant sugar cane.

Sugar cane planting and harvesting is a labor intensive work and the Portuguese were not interested in that sort of work, so they brought African slaves to do the tedious work. Thus, over time, Africans from Angola to Senegal were brought in as slaves to work in the sugar cane plantations of Sao Tome and Principe.

When the West Indices proved the better source of sugar cane, the Portuguese planted coffee and cocoa on these two islands and brought more African slaves into the island to work in those plantations. The salient point is that the Africans at these islands came from elsewhere and learned to speak Portuguese and broken Portuguese as their new language (some, particularly those from Angola, seem to have retained a form of their original language).

Portugal considered her African territories part of Portugal and did not want to give them independence. Africans formed liberation movements and agitated for independence. In 1974, the brutal dictator that ruled Portugal fell and was replaced by a regime that promised to give independence to Portugal’s African colonies. Thus, in 1975 Sao Tome and Principe became independent and Mr. Manuel Pinto da Costa became the African president.

This government, as elsewhere in Africa, soon turned into a one party rule. But in the 1990s Sao Tome and Principe turned democratic and elected a president democratically. In 2003, however, complaining that there is too much corruption in the land, the military struck and removed the elected president, Mr. de Menezes. But Sao Tome apparently had turned the corner and folks were not ready to accept unelected military rule and refused to accept the military junta. The junta returned de Menezes to office.

Sao Tome and Principe appears on the road to real democracy, with many political parties competing for political offices and the government being transparent and less corrupt.

The country is divided into two provinces (Sa Tome and Principe), and further divided into seven districts.

The economy of this little country is based on exporting coffee and cocoa and therefore is dependent on world commodity market and its wild fluctuations.

Oil was recently found and revenue from it is helping fuel economic development.

Posted by Administrator at August 10, 2006 11:29 AM


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