Flag description: three horizontal bands of green (top),
yellow (double width), and green with two black five-pointed stars placed
side by side in the center of the yellow band and a red isosceles triangle
based on the hoist side; uses the popular pan-African colors of Ethiopia
Location: Western Africa, islands in the Gulf of Guinea, straddling
the Equator, west of Gabon
Geographic coordinates: 1 00 N, 7 00 E
Climate: tropical; hot, humid; one rainy season (October
Independence: 12 July 1975 (from Portugal)
Nationality: Sao Tomean(s)
Capital City: Sao Tome
Population: 159,883 (July 2000 est.)
Head of State: President Miguel TROVOADA (since 4 April 1991)
Area: 1,001 sq km
Type of Government: republic
Currency: 1 dobra (Db) = 100 centimos
Major peoples: mestico, angolares (descendants of Angolan slaves),
forros (descendants of freed slaves), servicais (contract laborers from
Angola, Mozambique, and Cape Verde), tongas (children of servicais born
on the islands), Europeans (primarily Portuguese)
Religion: Christian 80% (Roman Catholic, Evangelical Protestant,
Official Language: Portuguese (official)
Principal Languages: Portuguese
Major Exports: cocoa 90%, copra, coffee, palm oil (1997)
History: The uninhabited islands were discovered by the Portuguese
in the late 15th century. The first Portuguese settlers arrived in
1493, and soon African slaves were imported to work on the large sugar
Sao Tome was taken over by the Portuguese crown in 1522,
and Principe in 1573. The Portuguese kept Sao Tome and Principe under
harsh colonial rule even after it became an overseas territory in 1951.
In 1960 the Committee for the Liberation of Sao Tome and Principe was organized.
In 1972, it renamed itself the Movement for the Liberation of Sao Tome
and Principe (MLSTP).
Following the overthrow of the Portuguese dictatorship
in 1974, the new government in Lisbon recognized the MLSTP. The islands
achieved independence on July 21, 1975.
A new constitution adopted in 1990 provided for a directly elected
president who could serve no more than two terms and would share power
with a prime minister. In 1991, Manuel Pinto da Costa, the country's
first president, retired as head of the MLSTP after his party's defeat
in the nation's first multiparty elections since independence.