Portuguese São Tomé and Príncipe

Last updated
Overseas Province of São Tomé and Príncipe
Província Ultramarina de São Tomé e Príncipe
Anthem: "Hymno Patriótico" (1808–26)
Patriotic Anthem

"Hino da Carta" (1826–1911)
Hymn of the Charter

"A Portuguesa" (1911–75)
The Portuguese
Location Sao Tome and Principe AU Africa.svg
Status Colony of the Portuguese Empire (1485-1951)
Overseas province of the Portuguese Empire (1951-1975)
Capital São Tomé
Common languages Portuguese
Head of state 
Afonso V of Portugal
Francisco da Costa Gomes
 1485-1490 (first)
João de Paiva
 1974–75 (last)
António Elísio Capelo Pires Veloso
Historical era Imperialism
 End of Portuguese Empire
12 July 1975
Currency São Tomé and Príncipe escudo
ISO 3166 code ST
Succeeded by
São Tomé and Príncipe Flag of Sao Tome and Principe.svg
Today part of São Tomé and Príncipe

São Tomé and Príncipe islands were a colony of the Portuguese Empire from its discovery in 1470 until 1975, when independence was granted by Portugal.



The Portuguese explorers João de Santarém and Pêro Escobar discovered the islands around 1470, [1] which they found uninhabited. [2] The São Tomé island was named by the Portuguese in honor of Saint Thomas, as they discovered the island on his feast day, while the Príncipe island (Prince's island) was named in honor of Afonso, Prince of Portugal, his father's favorite. [1]

The first attempt of settlement in the islands began in 1485, when the Portuguese Crown granted to João de Paiva the São Tomé island. However, this attempt was not successful, because the settlers were unable to produce food in the specific conditions and climate that the islands offered, and because of the tropical diseases that affected the settlers. [1] It was only in 1493 when King John II of Portugal nominated Álvaro Caminha as captain-major of São Tomé island, that the first successful settlement was established. [1] Among these Portuguese settlers, there was a significant portion of criminals and orphans, as well as Jewish children taken from their parents to ensure that they were raised as Christians. [3] Settlement of the Príncipe island was initiated in 1500. [1]

In the following years, the Portuguese settlers started to import large numbers of slaves from mainland Africa to cultivate the rich volcanic soil of São Tomé island with highly profitable sugar cane. By the middle of the 16th century São Tomé generated enormous wealth to Portugal when it became the world's largest producer of sugar. [4] The islands humid climate allowed the quick growth of sugar, but prevented the production of higher quality white sugar. [5]

In the first decade of the 17th century, the competition of sugar plantations from the Portuguese colony of Brazil and the frequent slave revolts that occurred in the island, begun to slowly hurt the sugar crop cultivation, [1] This meant the decline of sugar production, and the shifting of the local economy towards the slave trade, who remained mostly in the hands of the local mestiço population. [2] [4] The geographical location of the islands made them a crucial trading post of the transatlantic slave trade, as they served as an assembly point of the slaves brought from the Gulf of Guinea and the Kingdom of Kongo and destined to the Americas. [4] [6]

The Dutch occupied the São Tomé island in 1641, until 1648 when the Portuguese took back the island. [6] The Dutch, however, did not take Príncipe island. [6]

Most Portuguese settlers married African women. Europeans never numbered more than 1000 at their peak in the 16th century, and by the 18th century, prosperous and influential local Afro-Portuguese mulatos came to fill important local positions, such as cathedral chapter and the town-hall, into which they had been admitted as early as 1528. [7] Some were indistinguishable from mainland native Africans, who claimed to be brancos da terra, literally, "the lands whites" on account of their ancestry. [8]

In 1753, because of the frequent attacks by pirates and corsairs, the capital of the São Tomé island was transferred to Santo António on Príncipe, and the islands started being ruled as a single colony, with only one Governor. [4] It was only in 1852 when the capital was transferred back to São Tomé island. [9]

At the beginning of the 19th century, the Portuguese introduced coffee and cocoa in extensive large-scale plantations called roças, thus giving a great boost to the economy. The coffee production cycle ended in the late 19th century, when it was replaced by cocoa as the islands' main production. São Tomé and Príncipe then became a major global cocoa production area for several generations, and in the first decades of the 20th century, it was frequently the world's annual number one cocoa producer. [2]

In 1972, a nationalist political party of Marxist ideology, the Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe (MLSTP), was created by exiles in Equatorial Guinea with the intent of creating an independent nation. The Carnation Revolution in 1974 ended the Estado Novo dictatorship in Portugal and initiated a process of decolonization of the Portuguese colonies in Africa. On 12 July 1975, the new Portuguese regime granted independence to São Tomé and Príncipe. [6]

Proposed flag for Portuguese Sao Tome and Principe Flag of Portuguese Sao Tome and Principe (proposal).svg
Proposed flag for Portuguese São Tomé and Príncipe

Colonial architecture


See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Francisco, Agostinho, p.24
  2. 1 2 3 Grivetti, Shapiro, p. 1849
  3. Greene, Morgan, p.85
  4. 1 2 3 4 Greene, Morgan, p.86
  5. Disney, p.112.
  6. 1 2 3 4 Huang, Morrissete, p. 970
  7. Disney, p.111.
  8. Disney, p.111.
  9. McKenna, p.73

Related Research Articles

History of São Tomé and Príncipe Aspect of history

The islands of São Tomé and Príncipe were uninhabited at the time of the arrival of the Portuguese sometime between 1469 and 1471. After the islands were discovered by the explorers João de Santarém and Pêro Escobar, Portuguese navigators explored the islands and decided they would be a good location for bases to trade with the mainland.

Economy of São Tomé and Príncipe

The economy of São Tomé and Príncipe, while traditionally dependent on cocoa, is experiencing considerable changes due to investment in the development of its oil industry in the oil-rich waters of the Gulf of Guinea.

Colonial Brazil Portuguese 1500-1822/1825 possession in South America

Colonial Brazil comprises the period from 1500, with the arrival of the Portuguese, until 1815, when Brazil was elevated to a kingdom in union with Portugal as the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. During the early 300 years of Brazilian colonial history, the economic exploitation of the territory was based first on brazilwood extraction, which gave the territory its name; sugar production ; and finally on gold and diamond mining. Slaves, especially those brought from Africa, provided most of the work force of the Brazilian export economy after a brief period of Indian slavery to cut brazilwood.

São Tomé Capital and the largest city of São Tomé and Príncipe

São Tomé is the capital and largest city of the Central African island country of São Tomé and Príncipe. Its name is Portuguese for "Saint Thomas". Founded in the 15th century, it is one of Africa's oldest colonial cities.

Flag of São Tomé and Príncipe National flag

The flag of São Tomé and Príncipe consists of a red triangle situated at the hoist, with three horizontal green, yellow and green bands charged with two five-pointed black stars at the centre. Adopted in 1975 to replace the flag of Portugal from the colonial period, it has been the flag of the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe since the country gained independence in that same year. The design of the present flag was inspired by and is almost identical to the flag of the Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe.

Príncipe Island of São Tome and Príncipe

Príncipe is the smaller, northern major island of the country of São Tomé and Príncipe lying off the west coast of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea. It has an area of 142 square kilometres (55 sq mi) and a population of 7,324 at the 2012 Census; the latest official estimate was 8,420. The island is a heavily eroded volcano speculated to be over three million years old, surrounded by smaller islands including Ilheu Bom Bom, Ilhéu Caroço, Tinhosa Grande and Tinhosa Pequena. Part of the Cameroon Line archipelago, Príncipe rises in the south to 947 metres at Pico do Príncipe. The island is the main constituent of the Autonomous Region of Príncipe, established in 1995, and of the coterminous district of Pagué.

Forro Creole Language spoken in São Tomé and Príncipe

Forro Creole or Sãotomense is a Portuguese creole language spoken in São Tomé and Príncipe. It is also called by its native speakers as sãotomense creole or santomense creole.

Alda Neves da Graça do Espírito Santo

Alda Neves da Graça do Espírito Santo, known as Alda do Espírito Santo or Alda Graça, was a poet from São Tomé e Príncipe working in the Portuguese language. She also served in the Santomean government after the country's independence.

São Tomé Island

São Tomé Island, at 854 km2 (330 sq mi), is the largest island of São Tomé and Príncipe and is home in May 2018 to about 193,380 or 96% of the nation's population. The island is divided into six districts. It is located 2 km north of the equator.

João de Santarém was a Portuguese explorer who discovered São Tomé, Annobón and Príncipe. Together with Pêro Escobar, he also encountered the town of Sassandra in the Ivory Coast in 1471 and in 1472 explored the African land from Ghana up to the Niger Delta. From 1484 he was captain of Alcatrazes in Cape Verde.

Pêro Escobar Portuguese navigator

Pedro Escobar, also known as Pêro Escobar, was a 15th-century Portuguese navigator who discovered São Tomé, Annobón, Príncipe islands, together with João de Santarém c. 1470. He is then recorded sailing with Diogo Cão on his first voyage in 1482, and as the pilot of the famous Bérrio caravel on Vasco da Gama’s first expedition in 1497 to sail directly from Europe to India. He was also on Pedro Álvares Cabral’s discovery of Brazil in 1500.

Fort of São João Baptista de Ajudá Restored fort in Benin

The Fort of São João Baptista de Ajudá is a small restored fort in Ouidah, Benin. Built in 1721, it was the last of three European forts built in that town to tap the slave trade of the Slave Coast. Following the legal abolition of the slave trade early in the 19th century, the Portuguese fort lay abandoned most of the time until it was permanently reoccupied in 1865.

Dutch Brazil Dutch possession in South America between 1630-1654

Dutch Brazil, also known as New Holland, was the northern portion of the Portuguese colony of Brazil, ruled by the Dutch during the Dutch colonization of the Americas between 1630 and 1654. The main cities of the Dutch colony of New Holland were the capital Mauritsstad, Frederikstadt, Nieuw Amsterdam (Natal), Saint Louis, São Cristóvão, Fort Schoonenborch (Fortaleza), Sirinhaém, and Olinda.

São Tomé and Príncipe Country in the Gulf of Guinea

São Tomé and Príncipe, officially the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, is an island country in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa. It consists of two archipelagos around the two main islands of São Tomé and Príncipe, about 140 km (87 mi) apart and about 250 and 225 km off the northwestern coast of Gabon. With a population of 201,800, São Tomé and Príncipe is the second-smallest and second-least populous African sovereign state after Seychelles as well as the smallest and least populous Portuguese-speaking country in the world.

Portugal–São Tomé and Príncipe relations Bilateral relations

Portugal–São Tomé and Príncipe relations refers to the diplomatic relations between the Portuguese Republic and São Tomé and Príncipe. Both nations are members of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries and the United Nations.

Portuguese Cape Verde 1462–1975 Portuguese colony in the Cape Verde Islands

Cape Verde was a colony of the Portuguese Empire from the initial settlement of the Cape Verde Islands in 1462 until the independence of Cape Verde in 1975.

Cuisine of São Tomé and Príncipe Culinary traditions of São Tomé and Príncipe

Santomean cuisine comprises the cuisine, dishes and foods of São Tomé and Príncipe, a Portuguese-speaking island nation in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa. The country consists of two archipelagos around the two main islands: São Tomé and Príncipe, located about 140 kilometres (87 mi) apart and about 250 and 225 kilometres, respectively, off the northwestern coast of Gabon.

This is a timeline of Portuguese São Tomé and Príncipe from its discovery between mid-January 1469 to 1471 to independence on July 12, 1975. It includes the time when the island was under Dutch and French occupations and the separate colonies of São Tomé and Príncipe up to its unification in 1753.

Rei Amador

Amador Vieira, best known as Rei Amador, was a member of the king of the Angolars and leader of a famous slave rebellion that took place in 1595 in the African islands of São Tomé and Príncipe. According to some historic documents, Rei Emadir was "a slave" who avoided slavery and mobilized all the Angolares along with other Africans and made a free nation under the middle of the aforementioned islands.