The two islands of São Tomé and Principé constitute a small independent island republic with a democratic government lying in the Gulf of Guinea off the coast of Gabon and forming part of the Atlantic Ocean Islands group associated with Africa. The capital city is São Tomé. Other towns are Santo Antonio and Neves.

The official language is Portugese. The local currency is the Dobra. (US$ / Dobra – current exchange rate).

The economy is heavily dependent on the export of cocoa and therefore, is significantly affected by price changes. São Tomé and Principé are dependent on the importation of most goods, including foodstuffs. Thus, the government is encouraging the development of food crops. About one tenth of the working population is involved in the fishing industry. The forestry and tourism industries hold potential for development

The economy of São Tomé and Principé has also faced difficulties as a result of corruption.

In the late 1990s, São Tomé and Principé began considering a stuctural adjustment programme in association with the World Bank.

The São Tomé and Principé oil industry is important since all petroleum products have to be imported. Electricity is provided by the parastatal utility Empresa da Agua e Electricidade (EMAE).

The international time zone for São Tomé and Principé is GMT and the international dialling code is +23912. Air Portugal and some regional airlines fly to the islands. As at September 1995 all visitors to the islands require visas.

Malaria, dengue fever, hepatitis A, cholera, typhoid fever, schistosomiasis and yellow fever may be contracted while travelling in São Tomé and Principé. The risk of contraction is based on a number of factors including location, individual’s state of health, current immunisation status, and the local disease situation.

Shaun Bakamoso

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