When São Tomé and Príncipe were discovered by Portuguese seafarers in 1471/72, the archipelago was uninhabited, but it became of great importance as an intermediate station during the slave trade era.
The colonial past
São Tomé and Príncipe were the first African territory colonized by Portugal, which wanted to establish a Christian, European society, based on the production of sugar and African slaves. With an inhospitable climate and a high death rate, many of the European migrants consisted of deported criminals.
Slaves were taken from Benin, Gabon, Congo and Angola, and São Tomé and Príncipe developed the first plantation economy in the tropics. The first major export item was sugar, but with the rise of a successful sugar production in Brazil, the sugar from São Tomé and Príncipe became out of competition and the plantation economy decayed.
Cocoa and coffee (introduced from Brazil) were grown on plantations from the late 1800s. At the same time, administrators from Portugal and contract workers from other Portuguese colonies were brought in, which in practice meant a new colonization – and at the same time, slavery continued well into the 1900s, although it was formally abolished in 1875.
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From the 1530s, slaves were exported from São Tomé and Príncipe to America. To see more information other than history, please visit Abbreviationfinder to learn more about climate, population, government, and economy for the country of Sao Tome and Principe. The economic progress aroused the interest of other colonial powers and led to attacks by Englishmen, Frenchmen and Dutchmen in the 17th century. In 1641–48, the Dutch occupied the fort in São Tomé, from where they controlled the trade in sugar and slaves.
Rebellion against the Portuguese dominion came early; the first known slave rebellion took place in 1517, and a major revolt broke out in 1595. In order to increase the population, and thus the labor force, mixed marriages were encouraged, and a separate Creole population and culture emerged. Resistance to the Portuguese regime and slavery had particular attachment to this group of free creoles, known as the Frozen.
Resistance among the riots against the working conditions on the plantations in 1953 led to riots that were met with police. A large number of plantation workers were killed and the rebellion was later used as a reference in the liberation struggle against Portugal.
In 1960, the nationalist movement Comité de de Libertação de São Tomé e Príncipe (CLSTP) was established, but had limited diplomatic influence and disintegrated. In 1972, the liberation movement Movimento de Libertação de São Tomé e Príncipe (MLSTP) was formed, led by Manuel Pinto da Costa, who formed an exile government in Gabon. The MLSTP did not conduct open guerrilla warfare, but an underground effort against the Portuguese government.
Following the revolution in Portugal in 1974, São Tomé and Príncipe became independent on July 12, 1975, after a period of transition from December 1974. In the election to the National Assembly prior to independence, MLSTP won all the 16 seats. Manuel Pinto da Costa was appointed President, Miguel Trovoada as Prime Minister. The vast majority of around 2,000 Portuguese residents left the country, thus draining the country of expertise and capital.
The MLSTP government pursued a socialist policy and nationalized the largest plantations. The state takeover of the cocoa plantations in 1976 led to financial problems, partly because the Portuguese expertise left the country. Opponents of MLSTP soon also came to light, and several key politicians went into exile. These tried on several occasions to seize power in the country, including in 1977 and 1988. In 1979, Trovoada was deposed as prime minister, held prisoner until 1981 and sent into exile.
After the 1988 coup attempt, a democratization process was initiated, and in 1990 a new constitution was adopted and a multi-party system was introduced. The first free elections in 1991 led to a change of power, with MLSTP (now renamed MLSTP-Partido Social Democrata, MLSTP-PSD) defeating, and the new Partido de Convergência Democrática-Grupo de Reflexão (PCD-GR) gaining a majority. The returning Miguel Trovoada was elected president in 1991, after the other candidates resigned. In the new elections in 1994, MLSTP-PSD again became the largest party.
In 1994, the island of Príncipe was given internal autonomy, with parliament and government. In 1995, a group of soldiers and younger officers seized power in a coup, but after mediation from Angola they gave up after a week, after which Trovoada was reinstated. At the 1996 presidential election, Trovoada was reelected in the second round of elections against Manuel Pinta da Costa. MLSTP-PSD became the new largest party in the 1998 and 2002 parliamentary elections.
MLSTP-PSD’s candidate, Fradique de Menenez, won the presidential election in 2001. While the president was overseas, a group of officers seized power in a new coup in 2003, forming a military junta. After mediation from Nigeria, a settlement was concluded, which led to Menenez being reinstated and the coup makers granted amnesty. Menezes was reelected in the 2003 presidential election, followed by Manuel Pinto da Costa in 2011.
São Tomé and Príncipe have maintained close relations with Portugal since independence, and also have extensive contact with the other former Portuguese colonies in Africa, especially Angola, which has assisted both economically and militarily. During the period 1988–91, Angolan troops were stationed on São Tomé, and the country received oil at subsidized prices from Angola.
In 1996, São Tomé and Príncipe helped establish an international Portuguese-language association, the Commonwealth of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP). Relations with Nigeria are also close, and the two countries jointly manage a sea area between them which is believed to be rich in oil. As a result of this cooperation, the two countries agreed in 2007 to establish a joint military commission to defend their common interests in the Gulf of Guinea. Among other things, due to interest in the oil deposits, the US has strengthened relations with São Tomé and Príncipe, also militarily.