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So Tom e Principe - History

In 2011, STPs population was estimated at about 200,000, half of which live below the poverty line. The GNI per capita stood at US$ 1,200 (2010), life expectancy at 66.3 years and the adult literacy rate at 88.8%. Roughly 180,000 people [2015 estimate] live on Sao Tome and about 6,000 on Principe. The island of Sao Tome (857 km2) concentrates 95 percent of the total population, estimated at 100,000 in 1981. All are descended from various ethnic groups that had migrated to the islands since 1485. The islands were probably uninhabited when discovered by two Portuguese navigators in 1469 and 1472. In 1914 So Tom and Principe had 58,907 people, of whom about 1,500 were European men, with 78 European women. In 1916 unofficial Portuguese sources placed the number of inhabitants of San Thome at 40,000 and of Principe at 3,000. These figures suggested a different basis of calculation. In 1950 So Tom and Principe seemed to have had about 60,000 people, again including a few thousand whites; most of these were on Sao Tome, much the larger island of the pair, while some 23000 were migrant "contract workers" from Angola, Mozambique and the Cape Verdes.

Six groups are identifiable:

  • Europeans, primarily Portuguese.
  • Mestico, or mixed-blood, descendants of African slaves brought to the islands during the early years of settlement from Benin, Gabon, and Congo and Europeans (these people also are known as filhos da terra or "sons of the land");
  • Angolares, reputedly descendants of Angolan slaves who survived a 1540 shipwreck and now earn their livelihood fishing;
  • Forros, descendants of freed slaves when slavery was abolished;
  • Servicais, contract laborers from Angola, Mozambique, and Cape Verde, living temporarily on the islands; these emigrants were, in practice, subjected to administrative coercions little different from the contract-labor system of the indigenato, whether in regard to wage-payment or other conditions of life and work. It was doubtful if the labor reforms of 1962, notably those of the Cdigo de Trabalho Rural of 27 April of that year, could in any case be applied, in practice, by officials long accustomed to the 'deleterious and vitiated' systems that the Code was supposed to displace.
  • Tongas, children of servicais with forros born on the islands

A common Luso-African culture dominates the islands, uniting the groups. Almost everyone belongs to Roman Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, or Seventh-day Adventist Churches, which in turn retain close ties with churches in Portugal.

Widespread reports of domestic violence continued. Although women have the right to legal recourse in cases of domestic violence, including against spouses, many were reluctant to bring legal action because of the cost and a general lack of faith in the legal system to address their concerns effectively. Women often were uninformed of their legal rights. Some observers claimed tradition and custom inhibited women from taking domestic disputes outside the family. The law prescribes penalties ranging from imprisonment for three to eight years in cases of domestic violence resulting in harm to the health of the victim to incarceration for eight to 16 years when such violence leads to loss of life. The law was enforced, but there was no data on the number of prosecutions or convictions for domestic violence.

The government recognized the right of couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children, manage their reproductive health and have access to the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, or violence. Health clinics and local NGOs operated freely in disseminating information on family planning under the guidance of the Ministry of Health. There were no restrictions on access to contraceptives. NGOs and the Ministry of Health, however, had insufficient supplies of contraceptives. According to estimates by the UN Population Division, 40 percent of women of reproductive age used a modern method of contraception. The government provided free childbirth services, but the lack of doctors obliged many women, especially in rural areas, to rely on nurses or midwives during childbirth.

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Page last modified: 26-10-2016 16:56:22 ZULU