São Tomé e Príncipe is a small island state with an estimated population of 160,000. The official language is Portuguese and the currency, the dobra, was tied to the euro by a monetary agreement with Portugal in 2009. At the time of its independence in 1975, São Tomé e Príncipe inherited from Portugal an economy based exclusively on agriculture, specifically cocoa monoculture. The presence of offshore oil seems to have been confirmed, but drilling prospects are uncertain.
São Tomé e Príncipe is one of the least developed countries (LDCs) in the world, with one of the lowest gross domestic products (GDP) per capita in Africa (USD 1,020, WB 2009). It ranks 164th in the world in terms of per capita GDP, and 131st in terms of human development out of 182 countries (UNDP 2009). Overall poverty indicators remain worrying.
Local and legislative elections were held in July and August 2010 and resulted in a new Prime Minister (Patrice Trovoada) and government. Presidential elections are due to be held in 2011.
São Tomé e Príncipe is a member of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and an observer to the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC). It holds the post of executive secretary of the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) and in May 2009 signed a technical agreement with Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon for joint surveillance of maritime security, with the backing of the Council for Peace and Security in Central Africa (COPAX of the ECCAS).
Relations with the European Union are good and the European Commission is represented by its Delegation in Libreville (Gabon). The country is benefiting from the 10th EDF (2008-13) National Indicative Programme (with an allocated budget of €17.1m). The priorities are:
In 1984, the EC and São Tomé e Príncipe signed a Fisheries Agreement. A new agreement is currently being negotiated. São Tomé e Príncipe is also a party to negotiations for the Central African Economic Partnership Agreement with the CEMAC and the Democratic Republic of Congo. At present, Cameroon is the only country in the region to have signed an interim agreement, which relates to the access of goods to the market.