officially Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe
Island country, central Africa.
It is situated on the Equator in the Gulf of Guinea , west of the African mainland. Area: 386 sq mi (1,001 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 147,000. Capital: São Tomé . Most of the people are black-white admixture, Fang, or Angolares (descendants of former Angolan slaves). Languages: Portuguese (official), Creole. Religion: Christianity. Currency: dobra. The country consists of the two main islands, São Tomé and Príncipe, which are separated by about 90 mi (145 km), and a number of islets. The two main islands each have northeastern lowlands, central volcanic highlands, and swift-flowing streams. The economy is partly government-controlled and partly private and is based on agriculture and fishing. The country is a republic with one legislative house; its chief of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. First visited by European navigators in the 1470s, the islands were colonized by the Portuguese in the 16th century and were used in the trade and transshipment of slaves. Sugar and cocoa were the main cash crops. The islands became an overseas province of Portugal in 1951 and achieved independence in 1975. During recent decades the economy was heavily dependent on international assistance.