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Country Fast Facts: Sao Tome

Sao Tome

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Discovered and claimed by Portugal in the late 15th century, the islands' sugar-based economy gave way to coffee and cocoa in the 19th century - all grown with plantation slave labor, a form of which lingered into the 20th century.

While independence was achieved in 1975, democratic reforms were not instituted until the late 1980s.

Although the first free elections were held in 1991, the political environment has been one of continued instability with frequent changes in leadership and coup attempts in 1995 and 2003.

The recent discovery of oil in the Gulf of Guinea promises to have a significant impact on the country's economy.

Source: CIA World Fact Book