São Tomé and Príncipe were uninhabited when
Portuguese sailors discovered them in the late 1400s.
The islands became an official Portuguese colony in
The Portuguese built sugar plantations and used
imported slaves as labor. A slave uprising in 1530
frightened most plantation owners, and eventually Brazil
competed out São Tomé and Príncipe in the sugar market.
Subsequently, the islands once served as an intermediate
station in the slave trade across the Atlantic, but the
colony slowly decayed until the 19th century, when new
crops such as cocoa and coffee gave it a boost.
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Sao Tome and Principe, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
Slavery was officially abolished in 1869. The
plantation owners then began to recruit contract workers
from mainly Cape Verde, Angola and Mozambique. Their
conditions were not much better than those of the
slaves. Protests against colonial power and harsh
conditions on the plantations grew during the 20th
century. In 1953, more than 1,000 plantation workers
were killed in connection with a strike.
But the struggle for liberation continued. In 1960, a
nationalist party was formed, which was later named the
Freedom Movement for São Tomé and Príncipe (in
Portuguese abbreviated to MLSTP). The party had its
headquarters in Gabon and was led by Manuel Pinto da
Following the fall of the Portuguese dictatorship in
1974, São Tomé and Príncipe became an independent state
on July 12, 1975. Manuel Pinto da Costa was named
president and party mate Miguel Trovoada became his
China opens commercial affairs offices
China decides to set up a Trade Liaison Office in São Tomé. The office is
housed in the building that was China's embassy until 1997, which was then
closed as a result of São Tomé's decision to establish diplomatic relations with
Swedish vessels are detained
The country's coast guard retains two vessels owned by the Swedish company
Stena Oil. The vessels are said to have carried goods through São Tomé's
territorial waters without permission. A local court confiscates the vessels and
sentenced the captains to three years in prison for smuggling. Stena Oil denies
the allegations and claims that the Tomean authorities acted illegally. The
captains are pardoned after a few months for "humanitarian reasons" and the
ships are allowed to leave the country.