Sao Tome and Principe People - 2021


GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES  Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese


213,948 (July 2021 est.)


noun: Sao Tomean(s)

adjective: Sao Tomean

Ethnic groups

Mestico, Angolares (descendants of Angolan slaves), Forros (descendants of freed slaves), Servicais (contract laborers from Angola, Mozambique, and Cabo Verde), Tongas (children of servicais born on the islands), Europeans (primarily Portuguese), Asians (mostly Chinese)


Portuguese 98.4% (official), Forro 36.2%, Cabo Verdian 8.5%, French 6.8%, Angolar 6.6%, English 4.9%, Lunguie 1%, other (including sign language) 2.4%; note - shares sum to more than 100% because some respondents gave more than one answer on the census; other Portuguese-based Creoles are also spoken (2012 est.)


Catholic 55.7%, Adventist 4.1%, Assembly of God 3.4%, New Apostolic 2.9%, Mana 2.3%, Universal Kingdom of God 2%, Jehovah's Witness 1.2%, other 6.2%, none 21.2%, unspecified 1% (2012 est.)

Demographic profile

Sao Tome and Principe’s youthful age structure – more than 60% of the population is under the age of 25 – and high fertility rate ensure future population growth. Although Sao Tome has a net negative international migration rate, emigration is not a sufficient safety valve to reduce already high levels of unemployment and poverty. While literacy and primary school attendance have improved in recent years, Sao Tome still struggles to improve its educational quality and to increase its secondary school completion rate. Despite some improvements in education and access to healthcare, Sao Tome and Principe has much to do to decrease its high poverty rate, create jobs, and increase its economic growth.

The population of Sao Tome and Principe descends primarily from the islands’ colonial Portuguese settlers, who first arrived in the late 15th century, and the much larger number of African slaves brought in for sugar production and the slave trade. For about 100 years after the abolition of slavery in 1876, the population was further shaped by the widespread use of imported unskilled contract laborers from Portugal’s other African colonies, who worked on coffee and cocoa plantations. In the first decades after abolition, most workers were brought from Angola under a system similar to slavery. While Angolan laborers were technically free, they were forced or coerced into long contracts that were automatically renewed and extended to their children. Other contract workers from Mozambique and famine-stricken Cape Verde first arrived in the early 20th century under short-term contracts and had the option of repatriation, although some chose to remain in Sao Tome and Principe.

Today’s Sao Tomean population consists of mesticos (creole descendants of the European immigrants and African slaves that first inhabited the islands), forros (descendants of freed African slaves), angolares (descendants of runaway African slaves that formed a community in the south of Sao Tome Island and today are fishermen), servicais (contract laborers from Angola, Mozambique, and Cape Verde), tongas (locally born children of contract laborers), and lesser numbers of Europeans and Asians.

Age structure

0-14 years: 39.77% (male 42,690/female 41,277)

15-24 years: 21.59% (male 23,088/female 22,487)

25-54 years: 31.61% (male 32,900/female 33,834)

55-64 years: 4.17% (male 4,095/female 4,700)

65 years and over: 2.87% (male 2,631/female 3,420) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 81

youth dependency ratio: 75.6

elderly dependency ratio: 5.4

potential support ratio: 18.4 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 19.3 years

male: 18.9 years

female: 19.7 years (2020 est.)

Population growth rate

1.5% (2021 est.)

Birth rate

28.94 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

Death rate

6.33 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

Net migration rate

-7.57 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

Population distribution

Sao Tome, the capital city, has roughly a quarter of the nation's population; Santo Antonio is the largest town on Principe; the northern areas of both islands have the highest population densities as shown in this population distribution map


urban population: 75.1% of total population (2021)

rate of urbanization: 2.96% annual rate of change (2020-25 est.)

Major urban areas - population

80,000 SAO TOME (capital) (2018)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 1.03 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.97 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 0.87 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/female

total population: 1 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

19.4 years (2008/09 est.)

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29

Maternal mortality rate

130 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

Infant mortality rate

total: 45.3 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 48.72 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 41.77 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 66.72 years

male: 65.14 years

female: 68.36 years (2021 est.)

Total fertility rate

3.69 children born/woman (2021 est.)

Contraceptive prevalence rate

49.7% (2019)

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 100% of population

rural: 88.4% of population

total: 96.8% of population

unimproved: urban: 0% of population

rural: 11.6% of population

total: 3.2% of population (2017 est.)

Current Health Expenditure

6.3% (2018)

Physicians density

0.05 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Hospital bed density

2.9 beds/1,000 population (2011)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 54.4% of population

rural: 35.3% of population

total: 49.1% of population

unimproved: urban: 45.6% of population

rural: 64.7% of population

total: 50.9% of population (2017 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate

0.3% (2020)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS


HIV/AIDS - deaths

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

Obesity - adult prevalence rate

12.4% (2016)

Children under the age of 5 years underweight

5.4% (2019)

Education expenditures

5.1% of GDP (2018)


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 92.8%

male: 96.2%

female: 89.5% (2018)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 12 years

male: 12 years

female: 13 years (2015)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 20.8%

male: NA

female: NA (2012 est.)

NOTE: The information regarding Sao Tome and Principe on this page is re-published from the 2021 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Sao Tome and Principe 2021 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Sao Tome and Principe 2021 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 16 Dec 23, Copyright © 2023 ITA all rights reserved.