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SaoTome And Principe General
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Brief History

São Tomé and Príncipe, officially known as the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, was discovered and claimed by Portugal in the late 15th century. On July 12, 1975, it gained independence from Portugal. In 1990, São Tomé became one of the first African countries to embrace democratic reform, and changes to the constitution — the legalization of opposition political parties — led to elections in 1991 that were nonviolent, free, and transparent. Two failed coup attempts occured in 1995 and 2003. In 2009, there was an attempted coup to overthrow President Fradique de Menezes, who has been in power since since September 3, 2001.

Geography

São Tomé and Príncipe, capital São Tomé, is located in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Africa, covering an area of 964 square kilometers. It constitutes Africa's second smallest country. It consists of two islands: São Tomé and Príncipe, located off the northwestern coast of Gabon. The equator lies immediately south of São Tomé Island, passing through an islet named Ilhéu das Rolas. The climate is the climate is tropical—hot and humid. The rainy season runs from October to May. Pico de Príncipe is Príncipe's tallest mountain. Fish and hydropower are the country’s only natural resources.

People

São Tomé and Príncipe has a population of 175,808 (2010) of many ethnic groups such as the Mestico, Angolares, Forros, Servicais, Tongas, and Europeans -primarily Portuguese.The official language is Portuguese. Other recognized regional languages include Forro, Angolar, and Principense. The literacy rate is 84.9% (2001). Its religions are distributed among 70.3% Catholics, 3.4% Evangelicals, 2% New Apostolic, 1.8% Adventists, 3.1% followers of other religious beliefs, and 19.4% none-believers.

Government

The government of São Tomé and Príncipe is subject to a republic system. Its legal system is based on Portuguese legal system and customary law. It has not accepted ICJ jurisdiction with reservations. The chief of state is Fradique Bandiera Melo De Menezes -since September 3, 2001- and the head of government is Prime Minister Joachim Rafael Branco as of June 22, 2008. The official currency is the Dobra, where 25337.5 dobras are equivalent to 1 euro.

Economy

This small, poor island economy has become increasingly dependent on cocoa since independence in 1975, which represents about 95% of exports. Other export crops include copra, palm kernels, and coffee. It is not self-sufficient in food, and imports 90% of its supply. Other agricultural products consist of coconuts, cinnamon, pepper, bananas, papayas, beans, poultry, and fish.

Other than agriculture, the main economic activities are fishing and a small industrial sector engaged in processing local agricultural products and producing a few basic consumer goods. Other industries include light construction, textiles, soap, beer, fish processing, and timber. The scenic islands have potential for tourism, and the government is attempting to improve its rudimentary tourist industry infrastructure. The mineral industry was not significant in the islands, and mineral wealth remained largely unexplored. Lime deposits were exploited for the local market, and small clay and stone open-pit operations supplied the construction industry. Potential exists for the development of petroleum resources in Sao Tome's territorial waters in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea, which are being jointly developed in a 60-40 split with Nigeria.

The São Toméan Government has traditionally obtained foreign assistance from various donors, including the UN Development Program, the World Bank, the European Union (EU), Portugal, Taiwan, and the African Development Bank. São Tomé 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, Sao Tome signed on to a new 3-year IMF Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) program worth US$4.3 million.

The GDP per capita is US$1,700 (2009) and the inflation rate is 19% (2009). The country’s Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is estimated to be US$ 1,020.34 (2010).


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