São Tomé and Príncipe
São Tomé and Príncipe 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 kilometres apart and about 250 and 225 kilometres off the northwestern coast of Gabon, respectively; the islands were uninhabited until their discovery by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century. Colonised and settled by the Portuguese throughout the 16th century, they collectively served as a vital commercial and trade center for the Atlantic slave trade; the rich volcanic soil and close proximity to the Equator made São Tomé and Príncipe ideal for sugar cultivation, followed by cash crops such as coffee and cocoa. Cycles of social unrest and economic instability throughout the 19th and 20th centuries culminated in peaceful independence in 1975. São Tomé and Príncipe has since remained one of Africa's most democratic countries. With a population of 199,910, São Tomé and Príncipe is the second-smallest African sovereign state after Seychelles, as well as the smallest Portuguese-speaking country.
Its people are predominantly with most practising Roman Catholicism. The legacy of Portuguese rule is visible in the country's culture and music, which fuse European and African influences. São Tomé and Príncipe is a founding member state of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries; the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe were uninhabited when the Portuguese arrived sometime around 1470. The islands were discovered by João de Pêro Escobar. Portuguese navigators explored the islands and decided that they would be good locations for bases to trade with the mainland; the dates of discovery are sometimes given as 21 December 1471, for São Tomé. Príncipe was named Santo Antão, changing its name in 1502 to Ilha do Príncipe, in reference to the Prince of Portugal to whom duties on the island's sugar crop were paid; the first successful settlement of São Tomé was established in 1493 by Álvaro Caminha, who received the land as a grant from the crown. Príncipe was settled in 1500 under a similar arrangement.
Attracting settlers proved difficult and most of the earliest inhabitants were "undesirables" sent from Portugal Jews. In time these settlers found the volcanic soil of the region suitable for agriculture the growing of sugar. By 1515, São Tomé and Príncipe had become slave depots for the coastal slave trade centered at Elmina; the cultivation of sugar was a labour-intensive process and the Portuguese began to enslave large numbers of Africans from the mainland. By the mid-16th century the Portuguese settlers had turned the islands into Africa's foremost exporter of sugar. São Tomé and Príncipe were taken over and administered by the Portuguese crown in 1522 and 1573, respectively. However, competition from sugar-producing colonies in the Western Hemisphere began to hurt the islands; the large enslaved population proved difficult to control, with Portugal unable to invest many resources in the effort. Sugar cultivation thus declined over the next 100 years, by the mid-17th century, the economy of São Tomé had changed.
It was now a transit point for ships engaged in the slave trade between the West and continental Africa. In the early 19th century, two new cash crops and cocoa, were introduced; the rich volcanic soils proved well suited to the new cash crop industry, soon extensive plantations, owned by Portuguese companies or absentee landlords, occupied all of the good farmland. By 1908, São Tomé had become the world's largest producer of cocoa, which remains the country's most important crop; the roças system, which gave the plantation managers a high degree of authority, led to abuses against the African farm workers. Although Portugal abolished slavery in 1876, the practice of forced paid labour continued. Scientific American magazine documented in words and pictures the continued use of slaves in São Tomé in its 13 March 1897 issue. In the early 20th century, an internationally publicized controversy arose over charges that Angolan contract workers were being subjected to forced labour and unsatisfactory working conditions.
Sporadic labor unrest and dissatisfaction continued well into the 20th century, culminating in an outbreak of riots in 1953 in which several hundred African laborers were killed in a clash with their Portuguese rulers. This "Batepá Massacre" remains a major event in the colonial history of the islands, its anniversary is observed by the government. By the late 1950s, when other emerging nations across the African Continent demanded their independence, a small group of São Toméans had formed the Movement for the Liberation of São Tomé and Príncipe, which established its base in nearby Gabon. Picking up momentum in the 1960s, events moved after the overthrow of the Caetano dictatorship in Portugal in April 1974; the new Portuguese regime was committed to the dissolution of its overseas colonies. In November 1974, their representatives met with the MLSTP in Algiers and worked out an agreement for the transfer of sovereignty. After a period of transitional government, São Tomé and Príncipe achieved independence on 12 July 1975, choosing as the first president the MLSTP Secretary General
Java, São Tomé and Príncipe
Java is a village on São Tomé Island in the nation of São Tomé and Príncipe. Its population is 19, it was established as a plantation
São Tomé Island
São Tomé Island, at 854 km2, is the largest island of São Tomé and Príncipe and is home to about 157,000 or 96% of the nation's population. The island is divided into six districts, it is located 2 km north of the equator. São Tomé Island is about 48 kilometres long by 32 kilometres wide, it rises to 2,024 metres at Pico de São Tomé and includes the capital city, São Tomé, on the northeast coast. The nearest city on mainland Africa is the port city of Port Gentil in Gabon located 240 kilometres to the east; the island is surrounded by a number of small islands, including Ilhéu das Rolas, Ilhéu das Cabras and Ilhéu Gabado. The main language is Portuguese, but there are many speakers of Forro and Angolar, two Portuguese-based creole languages; the entire island of São Tomé is a massive shield volcano that rises from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, over 3,000 m below sea level. It formed along the Cameroon line, a line of volcanoes extending from Cameroon southwest into the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the lava erupted on São Tomé over the last million years has been basalt.
The youngest dated rock on the island is about 100,000 years old, but numerous more recent cinder cones are found on the southeast side of the island. The higher slopes of the island are forested and form part of the Parque Natural Obô de São Tomé, but agriculture is important near the north and east coasts; the chief exports are cocoa, coffee and palm products, while there is a fishing industry. Large reserves of oil are in the ocean between Nigeria and São Tomé; the discovery has been lamented by some as endangering the nation's political stability and natural environment. In response to these concerns the government of São Tomé and Príncipe has drawn up legislation in an attempt to ensure the efficient and equitable use of oil revenues over time; the island has a total of 63 regular bird species, plus an additional 36 vagrant and unconfirmed species. Of these, 19 are endemic and 3 near endemic. Six species are considered vulnerable, two critically endangered. São Tomé is divided into the following six districts: Água Grande Cantagalo Caué Lembá Lobata Mé-Zóchi Villages on the island include: "Sao Tome".
Global Volcanism Program. Smithsonian Institution. CIA Word Fact Book