Country Profile: Sao Tome and Principe

This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe (Republica Democratica de Sao Tome e Principe), based on research produced by the Library of Congress. Under Sao Tome and Principe's Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) has no legal status. 

Country Background

Sao Tome and Principe is an island country located in the Gulf of Guinea, west of Gabon in Central Africa, just north of the Equator. The capital is Sao Tome (city). The official language is Portuguese. The country's population in 2017 was approximately 201,025 people. Sao Tome and Principe is a predominantly Christian country, with about 56% of the population Catholic. Islam is a minority religion in Sao Tome and Principe, and about 3% of the country's population is Muslim. However, there may be more Muslims in the country due to undocumented immigrants from other African countries. The population of Sao Tome and Principe is young, with over 60% below the age of 25. As such, the population is expected to grow rapidly within the next few years.

Constitution & Legal Structure

Sao Tome and Principe is referred to as a semi-presidential republic, in which sovereignty belongs to the people and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The Constitution of Sao Tome and Principe was ratified in 1975, and was most recently amended in 1990. The system of government is based on principles of separation and checks and balances and has three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The legal system of Sao Tome and Principe is a mixed legal system of civil law based on the Portuguese model, and is influenced by customary laws/ tradition. 

Constitutional Status of Islamic Law

Islamic law has no constitutional status in Sao Tome and Principe. 

Jurisdiction(s) of Islamic Law

Islamic law has no official jurisdiction of operation in Sao Tome and Principe. 

Dominant School of Islamic Law

Sao Tome and Principe has no official school of Islamic law.

Sources of Law for Legal Research

Official Publications

Unofficial Databases


For an extended list of legal resources for this country, see the Library of Congress’s Research Guide. The Constitution is available in the LOC Guide in its original language and at Constitute in English translation. For full versions of past constitutions, amendments, and related legislation, see HeinOnline World Constitutions Illustrated or Oxford Constitutions of the World [subscription required for each].