Your guide to being an expatriate in São Tomé and Príncipe

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São Tomé and Príncipe is a nation spanning an archipelago of thirteen volcanic islands in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa. It gained independence from Portugal in 1975 and has undergone periods of civil unrest and one-party rule. Today, it is a presidential republic and member of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.

São Tomé and Príncipe

Expat destinations in São Tomé and Príncipe

Demographics of São Tomé and Príncipe:

Ethnic groups

Africans (mostly Angolan and Congolese)


Portuguese (official) and Forro (a Portuguese-based creole language)

Religion Overview

São Tomé and Príncipe is a predominantly Christian nation with the majority of its population adhering to Roman Catholicism (over 70%). Protestantism (mostly Evangelicals and Adventists) and Spiritism also have significant followings.

Major Religions


São Tomé and Príncipe has a tropical rainforest climate with high humidity and consistent rainfall throughout the year, which leads to lush vegetation and teeming flora and fauna.

Economy Overview

Since gaining independence, São Tomé and Príncipe has struggled with economic issues, including reliance on imported goods, low agricultural productivity, and high levels of poverty. However, the country is making efforts to diversify its economy and promote tourism, as well as seeking foreign investment in its offshore oil reserves.

Key Industries

  • Agriculture (mainly cocoa, coffee, and bananas)
  • Fishing
  • Tourism (limited)
  • Construction

Major Companies

  • Ocean Bank (a Portuguese bank)
  • Cafe Sao Tome (a Portuguese-owned coffee company)
  • Santometano Group Holdings (a private company with interests in agricultural produce, construction, and hotels)

Culture and Language Overview

Hispanic and Afro-Portuguese cultures converge in the unique heritage of São Tomé and Príncipe, with African-inspired music, dance, and cuisine integrated into daily life. Festivals and traditions like Carnival and Restelo Fest identifies the Afro-Portuguese culture

Cultural Highlights

  • Créolo (Afro-Portuguese cuisine)
  • São Toméan dance
  • Morna (East Asian/Portuguese-inspired music genre)
  • Tradição de Arte Marquete (traditional craft of wood carving)

Geography and Landmarks Overview

São Tomé and Príncipe consists of three main islands (São Tomé, Príncipe, and Rolas) and ten islets, all of which boast distinctive natural scenery and geological features. The country is blessed with a wealth of flora and fauna, including endemic species and protected national parks.

Notable Landmarks

  • Obô (blue volcanic lake)
  • Roça Belo Monte (historic plantation with preserved machinery)
  • Lagoa Azul (emerald-green volcanic lake)
  • Cascata Boca de Inferno (hostile waterfall)

National Holidays

  • New Year's Day (January 1)
  • Revolution Day (July 5)
  • Independence Day (July 12)
  • All Saints' Day (November 1)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)

Political Stability

São Tomé and Príncipe is considered a stable and peaceful nation, with a presidential system of government and a voting history that has witnessed democratic transitions. However, the country continues to address issues related to inequality, poverty, and economic development.

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