Sao Tome and Principe Country Report
The Independent Democratic Action (Acção Democrática Independente: ADI) confirmed its status as the dominant party when Evaristo Carvalho won the presidential election run-off on 7 August 2016. That ended a long period of cohabitation as Carvalho defeated incumbent Manuel Pinto da Costa, who had a fractious relationship with ADI prime minister Patrice Trovoada, who had previously led the ADI to an absolute majority in the October 2014 legislative elections. Da Costa and third-placed candidate Maria das Neves had boycotted the run-off, but disputes were tempered by the lack of executive powers held by the president. Political stability is likely to be used to promote tourism, as well as associated construction and transport projects, with the interests of fellowLusophone country Angola likely to be favoured.
The government's commitment to attracting foreign investment in order to raise living standards has been underlined by the adoption of key international legislation relating to investment guarantees and low oil prices that make drilling unattractive. Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada's ambition to turn the country into an IT and telecoms hub is undermined by São Tomé's geographical isolation, undiversified economy, relatively unskilled workforce, institutionalised bureaucracy, and poor infrastructure. The lack of deepwater transhipment services, in particular, shows no sign of ending soon as new port plans stall.
Piracy is a threat throughout the Gulf of Guinea, and São Tomé's geographical proximity to the Niger Delta, where many piracy groups are based, raises the risk of attacks on vessels serving the nascent oil industry. However, the industry is still at the exploration stage, and São Tomé is therefore unlikely to be a prime target for pirate crews for some time. Nevertheless, the government is fully engaged with efforts by regional organisations such as the Economic Community of West African States and the Economic Community of Central African States and neighboring countries to improve surveillance and anti-piracy measures.
The only possible threat of civil war could be driven by divisions within the army; however, it is no longer considered to pose a serious risk of mounting a coup. Rising dissatisfaction over the army's salary structure and disciplinary proceedings was capably averted by former president Manuel Pinto da Costa in February 2014 when he took remedial action following the dismissal of Brigadier Felisberto Maria Segundo as chief of staff of the armed forces after "acts of insubordination" by some army units. São Tomé's geographical isolation and friendly relations with Gulf of Guinea countries means there is no risk of interstate war.
High food prices and poor service provision are occasional motivating factors able to trigger protests. A key ADI promise during its successful electoral campaign was to make imported rice available for STD13,000 (USD0.60) a kilo, but subsidised supplies quickly disappeared. In February 2017, the first popular protest against the Trovoada-led government took place in the capital city, but failed to mobilise a significant number of people. Working conditions and salaries in the civil service have also occasionally been the source of protests, such as the April 2017 strike and demonstration held by police officers in the city of São Tomé.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required for all travelers over one year of age entering the country.
Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).
Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).
Malaria: Recommended preventive medication - mefloquine (sometimes marketed as Lariam) or doxycycline (sometimes marketed as Vibramycin).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
The climate of Sao Tomé and Principe is equatorial; the island nation receives abundant rain and experiences high temperatures and high levels of humidity. Ocean breezes however often lower air temperatures. The dry season lasts from June until September; the month of January also sees a respite from rain (during the “Pequenha Gravana”). The south of the country's main island is mountainous and sees higher annual rainfall (7 meters) than the north (2 meters).
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