General issues: Portuguese colony 1869-1951, Portuguese province 1951-1975, Democratic republic 1975-Present
Country name on general issues: S. Thomé e Príncipe, S. Tomé e Príncipe, S. Tomé, São Tomé e Príncipe
Currency: 1 Milreis = 1000 Reis 1869-1912, 1 Escudo = 100 Centavos 1912-1977, 1 Dobra = 100 Centimos 1977-Present
Population: 42 000 in 1900, 190 000 in 2014
Political history São Tomé & Príncipe
São Tomé & PríncipeAlso known as St. Thomas and Prince Islands in English. is located off the coast of central Africa in the Gulf of Guinea. São Tomé and Príncipe are islands of volcanic origin. The Portuguese discovered the islands in the 1470’s and first settled on São Tomé in 1493 and on Príncipe in 1500. São Tomé was brought under colonial administration in 1522 and Príncipe in 1573, which established São Tomé & Príncipe as a Portuguese colony.
By the early 19th century, coffee and cocoa were introduced as successful crops, cocoa being the most important crop until the present day. Slaves were brought in from the African continent to man the plantations. Although slavery was abolished in 1876, forms of forced labor existed until the early 20th century.
In 1951, São Tomé & Príncipe gained the status of an overseas Portuguese province – as did the other former Portuguese colonies. The late 1950’s saw the first call for independence, rising in the 1960’s. After the Carnation Revolution in Portugal in 1974, independence was gained in 1975 as the democratic republic of São Tomé & Príncipe.
After independence, São Tomé & Príncipe was long a socialist style one party state. Democratic multi party elections were held for the first time in 1991. Although São Tomé & Príncipe has known a number of attempted coups d’etat, it has politically been relatively stable. Economically, São Tomé & Príncipe largely depends on cocoa production. High imports have led to high debt, necessitating the involvement of the IMF to restructure the economy. Diversification into tourism and oil production are part of the economic potential of São Tomé & Príncipe. The population reflects the history of the islands and consists of mestizo, descendants of slaves and workers from the African continent and Europeans.
Postal history São Tomé & Príncipe
The first stamps are issued in São Tomé & Príncipe in 1869. From the first issue, until the end of the colonial period, the issues are of the common designs for the Portuguese colonies. Since independence, São Tomé & Príncipe has issued many stamps aimed at the thematic collectors market.