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Sao Tome and Principe, Economy and Government

plantation agriculture, copra, unit of currency, coconuts, monopoly

The economy of Sao Tome and Principe is dependent on plantation agriculture, particularly cacao production. The major plantations were nationalized after independence in 1975. In 2000 the gross domestic product, which measures the total value of goods and services produced in the country, was $46.5 million, or $310 per inhabitant. The leading agricultural products are cacao, coconuts, copra, melons, and bananas. Cacao accounted for 60 percent of export earnings in the early 1990s. Because agriculture is dominated by export crops, 90 percent of the country’s food must be imported. The unit of currency is the dobra (7,978 dobra equal U.S.$1; 2000 average).

Under the 1982 constitution, as amended, the Movement for the Liberation of Sao Tome and Principe (MLSTP) was the country’s sole legal political party. A new constitution approved by referendum in August 1990 abolished the monopoly of the MLSTP and authorized multiparty elections for the president and the 55-member legislature.

In 1994 the legislature approved a bill granting autonomy to Principe. Principe assumed this status after holding elections in March 1995 for a five-member regional government and a seven-member regional assembly. The government of Principe is under the authority of a minister appointed by the president of the republic of Sao Tome and Principe.

Article key phrases:

plantation agriculture, copra, unit of currency, coconuts, monopoly, new constitution, referendum, inhabitant, bananas, gross domestic product, elections, legislature, Principe, autonomy, melons, independence, bill, minister, president, authority, Movement, average, status, services


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