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São Tomé


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A virtual guide to Sao Tome and Principe, officially the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, an archipelago of volcanic origin in the Gulf of Guinea close to the equator, located about 320 km (200 mi) west of Gabon on Africa's mainland. Principe island lies west of Equatorial Guinea. The island nation shares maritime borders with Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Nigeria.

The combined area of the archipelago is just 964 km², this is about twice the size of Andorra, or more than five times the size of Washington, DC.

With a population of 178,700 (in 2016), São Tomé and Príncipe is the second least populated African country after Seychelles, as well as the smallest Portuguese-speaking country. The capital and largest city are São Tomé. Spoken languages are Portuguese, Forro, Angolar, and some Principense Creole.

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 labour, a form of which lingered into the 20th century.

Although independence was achieved in 1975, democratic reforms were not instituted until the late 1980s. The first free elections were held in 1991, the political environment has been one of continued instability with frequent changes in leadership and several failed, non-violent coup attempts in 1995, 1998, 2003, and 2009. The recent discovery of oil in the Gulf of Guinea is likely to have a significant impact on the country's economy.

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Official Name:
Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe
Short form: S. Tomé e Príncipe

ISO Country Code: st
Local Time = UTC
Country Calling Code: +239

Capital City: São Tomé
Other Cities: Trinidade, Santana, Angolares, Neves, Santo Antonio (capital of Principe).

Type: Republic.
Independence: 12 July 1975 (from Portugal).

Location: Western Central Africa; islands straddling the equator in the Gulf of Guinea west of Gabon.
Area: 1 000 sq. km. (386 sq. mi.)
Terrain: Two small, volcanic islands.

Climate: Tropical, with wet and dry seasons, influenced by the mountainous topography.