São Tomé and Príncipe were uninhabited before these islands were discovered in about 1470, by Portuguese navigators. In the late 15th Century the Portuguese sent out settlers to the island's to grow sugar. This included many convicts and Jewish children, (who had been separated from their parents and expelled from Portugal, in the world war) and African slaves. This country was the world’s largest producer of sugar, but the rise of Brazilian competition and the poor quality of São Tomé’s product, virtually destroyed this industry. The economic decline, was accentuated by social instability of slaves. Who had escaped to the mountains and raided the plantations. Amador, the self-proclaimed king of the slaves who nearly overran the whole island of São Tomé in 1595, is now regarded by many as a national hero. Foreign pirates were another hazard, and the Dutch briefly captured São Tomé in 1641, only to be expelled seven years later, from these Islands. Located on the Equator in the Gulf of Guinea. It consists of two main islands—São Tomé and Príncipe—and several rocky islets, including Rôlas, south of São Tomé island, and Caroço, Pedras, and Tinhosas, south of Príncipe. São Tomé, which is oval in shape, is larger than Príncipe, which lies about 145 km northeast of its sister island.
In the south and west of both islands, high volcanic mountains, fall precipitously to the sea. Even though neither island has witnessed any volcanic activity in recent Centuries! São Tomé Peak, the highest point on the main island, rises to 2,024 metres above sea level, and Príncipe Peak on the smaller island reaches 948 metres. These mountainous areas are deeply dissected by stream erosion, and spectacular isolated volcanic plugs stand out as landmarks. Causing rocky streams to rush down to the coast in every direction!
The population consists mainly of Forros people, which comes from the Portuguese word for: “free man”. Forros are the descendants of these immigrant, Europeans and African slaves. Another group, the Angolares, descended from runaway Angolan slaves who were shipwrecked on São Tomé about 1540. The Angolares remained apart in the isolated southern zone of São Tomé island. Angolans and Mozambicans make up most of the rest of the African immigrant community. Like the Cape Verdeans, they are relatively well integrated within the other islanders, because of a shared Luso-African cultural background. (This is when there is a small European population—primarily Portuguese—in the country.)
More than half of the population belongs to the Roman Catholic Church. The remainder of those professing a religious affiliation is primarily Protestant. Traditional African religious practices and beliefs are widespread! More than one-fifth of the population identifies themselves as; non-religious.
The population is concentrated in the drier and flatter areas of both Islands. Where as a third of the population live in São Tomé city and its outskirts, only about 5%, live on the island of Príncipe. Many people live in dispersed settlements known locally as Lucháns. Houses made of wooden planks and raised above the ground are typical of the local building methods, although there are also many concrete structures in the Portuguese colonial style. Many people still live in barrack-like accommodations on the plantations.
Decades of colonial stagnation or relaxation, was then followed by economic disruption, after independence in 1975. Then fortunately political and judicial structures were adopted. Under the tutelage of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank since the mid-1980s, Sao Tome and Principe has tried to restore a functioning economy by: devaluing its currency; reducing the budget deficit; privatizing formerly nationalized companies; attracting foreign investment and removing price subsidies and controls. During that time however, corruption had became rampant and mass poverty increased tremendously. In the late 1990s, the IMF measures helped the country’s economy improve considerably, as did the advent of petroleum concessions sales, which continued into the 21st Century.
"Tourism is largely limited to the dry season and chiefly attracting, individual tourists from Portugal and other European countries. The tourism sector has the potential to be a strong source of economic diversification for the country! The sector has expanded with some foreign investment, but development has been hindered by such obstacles as the presence of tropical diseases (notably malaria), the lengthy wet season, and the expense of traveling to this Country."