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São Tomé e Princípe, labor/nationalists

Justin Corfield

Subject History » Political History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place Africa

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics labor movements, nationalism, revolution, rights

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01316.x


The former Portuguese colony of São Tomé e Princípe is located on two main islands in the Gulf of Guinea, off the coast of Central Africa. The Portuguese were the first European colonial power to chart the island of São Tomé in 1469, establishing a colony 16 years later. The island was rapidly transformed into a center of Portuguese rule in the area with extensive sugar plantations kept going by the slave trade. In 1530 a large slave revolt stimulated many plantation owners to relocate to Brazil. The move signaled the decline of the sugar industry on the island. Subsequently, São Tomé was maintained as a transit center for the slave trade between Congo and North America. By the eighteenth century, Portuguese settlers established coffee and cocoa plantations, and after the abolition of slavery on the island in 1875 farmers substituted a system of indentured labor, leading to widespread labor abuses and boycotts of coffee from São Tomé in the early twentieth century. Following World War II, major protests on São Tomé culminated in the 1953 labor strike, in which Portuguese soldiers shot and killed 1,032 plantation workers. However, the shootings did not quell the movement for improved working conditions, which later gained modest concessions from farmers. In 1960 the Movi-mento de Libertação de São Tomé e Príncipe (MLSTP) was formed as the islands' first political movement. With the ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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