The Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe is a Portuguese-speaking island nation in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa. It consists of two archipelagos around two main islands, located about 140 kilometres (87 mi) apart and about 250 and 225 kilometres (155 and 140 mi), respectively, off the northwestern coast of Gabon.
The islands were uninhabited until their discovery by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century. Gradually colonized and settled by Portugal throughout the 16th century, they collectively served as a vital commercial and trade center for the Atlanticslave trade and a site for plantations. Cycles of social unrest and economic instability throughout the 19th and 20th centuries culminated in peaceful independence in 1975. The archipelago is one of Africa's most stable and democratic countries.
With a population of 192,993 (2013 Census), São Tomé and Príncipe is the second-smallest African country after Seychelles, and the smallest Portuguese-speaking country.