Sao Tome and Principe

Country Summary



Portugal discovered and colonized the uninhabited islands in the late 15th century, setting up a sugar-based economy that gave way to coffee and cocoa in the 19th century. Independence was achieved in 1975, but democratic reforms were not instituted until the late 1980s. The country held its first free elections in 1991.



total: 964 sq km
land: 964 sq km
water: 0 sq km


tropical; hot, humid; one rainy season (October to May)

Natural resources

fish, hydropower

People and Society


220,372 (2023 est.)

Ethnic groups

Mestico, Angolares (descendants of Angolan slaves), Forros (descendants of freed slaves), Servicais (contract laborers from Angola, Mozambique, and Cabo Verde), Tongas (children of servicais born on the islands), Europeans (primarily Portuguese), Asians (mostly Chinese)


Portuguese 98.4% (official), Forro 36.2%, Cabo Verdian 8.5%, French 6.8%, Angolar 6.6%, English 4.9%, Lunguie 1%, other (including sign language) 2.4%; note - shares sum to more than 100% because some respondents gave more than one answer on the census; other Portuguese-based Creoles are also spoken (2012 est.)


Catholic 55.7%, Adventist 4.1%, Assembly of God 3.4%, New Apostolic 2.9%, Mana 2.3%, Universal Kingdom of God 2%, Jehovah's Witness 1.2%, other 6.2%, none 21.2%, unspecified 1% (2012 est.)

Population growth rate

1.45% (2023 est.)


Government type

semi-presidential republic


name: Sao Tome

Executive branch

chief of state: President Carlos Manuel VILA NOVA (since 2 October 2021)
head of government: Prime Minister Patrice TROVOADA (since 11 November 2022)

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Assembleia Nacional (55 seats; members directly elected in multi-seat constituencies by closed party-list proportional representation vote to serve 4-year terms)


Economic overview

ower middle-income Central African island economy; falling cocoa production due to drought and mismanagement; joint oil venture with Nigeria; government owns 90% of land; high debt, partly from fuel subsidies; tourism gutted by COVID-19

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$781.928 million (2022 est.)
$781.418 million (2021 est.)
$766.853 million (2020 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$3,400 (2022 est.)
$3,500 (2021 est.)
$3,500 (2020 est.)

Agricultural products

plantains, oil palm fruit, coconuts, taro, bananas, fruit, cocoa, yams, cassava, maize


light construction, textiles, soap, beer, fish processing, timber


$96.977 million (2022 est.)
$75.256 million (2021 est.)
$49.337 million (2020 est.)

Exports - partners

Singapore 30%, Switzerland 24%, France 11%, Poland 7%, Belgium 7%, United States 5% (2019)

Exports - commodities

gas turbines, cocoa beans, aircraft parts, iron products, chocolate (2019)


$219.322 million (2022 est.)
$201.145 million (2021 est.)
$160.097 million (2020 est.)

Imports - partners

Portugal 41%, Angola 17%, China 8% (2019 )

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, cars, rice, flavored water, postage stamps (2019)

Exchange rates

dobras (STD) per US dollar -
Exchange rates:
23.29 (2022 est.)
20.71 (2021 est.)
21.507 (2020 est.)
21.885 (2019 est.)
20.751 (2018 est.)

Page last updated: Tuesday, April 09, 2024