São Tomé and Príncipe
Region:Western Africa

Capital: São Tomé

Population: 168,000 (UNDP 2011)

Surface area: 1,001 sq km

Currency: dobra (STD)

GDP per capita: Purchasing power parity US $2,000 (2011- CIA est.)

Background: 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 labor, 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.

Economy – overview: 
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 and Principe has to import fuels, most manufactured goods, consumer goods, and a substantial amount of food, making it vulnerable to fluctuations in global commodity prices. Over the years, it has had difficulty servicing its external debt and has relied heavily on concessional aid and debt rescheduling. Sao Tome and Principe 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, the government signed on to a new 3-year IMF Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) program worth $4.3 million. In April 2011 the country completed a Threshold Country Program with The Millennium Challenge Corporation to help increase tax revenues, reform customs, and improve the business environment. Considerable potential exists for development of a tourist industry, and the government has taken steps to expand facilities in recent years. The government also has attempted to reduce price controls and subsidies. Potential exists for the development of petroleum resources in Sao Tome and Principe”s territorial waters in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea, which are being jointly developed in a 60-40 split with Nigeria, but any actual production is at least several years off. The first production licenses were sold in 2004, though a dispute over licensing with Nigeria delayed the country”s receipt of more than $20 million in signing bonuses for almost a year. Maintaining control of inflation, fiscal discipline, and increasing flows of foreign direct investment into the oil sector, are the major economic problems facing the country. (CIA, 2012)

Major Export Commodities: cocoa 80%, copra, coffee, palm oil

Remittances: 2 million USD (World Bank 2011 est.)

Human Development Index 2011 ranking: 144 out of 187 countries

Official Development Assistance and Major Development Partners:

Net ODA  US $50 million.
Major development partners include: Portugal, E.U. Institutions, France, Japan, IDA. (OECD 2010).

Total External Debt: US $185.9 million (December 2009 – CIA est.)

Life Expectancy at Birth: 64.7 years (UNDP 2011)

Environmental Indicators:

Endangered Species (as a % of all species): Not Available

Forested Area (percentage of land area): 28.1

CO2 Emissions (tonnes per capita):0.8

(Data Source: UNDP 2011)

United Nations Membership date: 16 September 1975

New York Mission: Permanent Mission of Sao Tome and Principe to the United Nations 400 Park Avenue, 7th Floor New York, N.Y. 10168 USA

Telephone: (212) 317-0533 Fax: (212) 317-0580


CIA World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. www.cia.gov

World Development Indicators. World Bank www.worldbank.org

Development, Recipient Aid Charts. Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. www.oecd.org

Human Development Report 2011. United Nations Development Programme. www.undp.org

Image of flag and map copyright of Wikimedia Commons

Updated July 2012