Sao Tome and Principe, once a leading cocoa producer, is poised to profit from the commercial exploitation of large offshore reserves of oil. But arguments have arisen over how to spend the expected windfall, leading to political tension.
One of Africa's smallest countries, Sao Tome and Principe consists of two islands of volcanic origin and a number of smaller islets. AT-A-GLANCE
Sao Tome travel, Principe Tourist Attractions
From the late 1400s Portugal began settling convicts on Sao Tome and establishing sugar plantations with the help of slaves from the mainland. The island was also important in the transshipment of slaves. The colony's aspirations for independence were recognised after the 1974 coup in Portugal and at first the Movement for the Liberation of Sao Tome and Principe was the country's sole political party.
Sao Tome and Principe attractions
However, the 1990 constitution created a multi-party democracy. The island of Principe assumed autonomy in 1995. Sao Tome and Principe is trying to shake off its dependence on the cocoa crop. Falls in production and prices left the island state heavily reliant on foreign aid.
Sao Tome and Principe maps (Please mouse click on the thumbnail photos below to see an enlargement)
The government has been encouraging economic diversification and is set to exploit the billions of barrels of oil which are thought to lie off the country's coast. Drilling is under way and commercial production is expected to begin within a few Principe Tourist Attractions years.
Promoters of tourism say the islands have plenty for visitors to see. But hurdles include ignorance about the Sao Tome travel country, the difficulties of getting there, and what some say is an exaggerated fear of malaria.New York
Full name: The Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe
Population: 158,000 (UN, 2007)
Capital: Sao Tome
Area: 1,001 sq km (386 sq miles)
Major language: Portuguese
Major religion: Christianity
Sao Tome and Principe flag
Life expectancy: 64 years (men), 67 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 dobra = 100 centimos
Main exports: Cocoa
GNI per capita: US $390 (World Bank, 2006)
Internet domain: .st
International dialling code: +239