What is the Currency of São Tomé and Príncipe?

By Joyce Chepkemoi on August 1 2017 in Economics

The flag of São Tomé and Príncipe.

The dobra is the official currency used in Sao Tome and Principe. The currency's ISO 4217 code is STD and the dobra is abbreviated as Db in international money markets. The country introduced the dobra in 1977 and replaced the colonial escudo at par in 1977 as the country gained independence from Portugal. The dobra is made up of 100 subunits known as centimos with one dobra being equivalent to 100 centimos. However, increased inflation led to the centime becoming obsolete. In 2009, Sao Tome and Principe struck an agreement with Portugal which would enable the country to base its currency on the euro at the rate of 1 to 24,590.15 Db.

Sao Tome and Principe Dobra Coinage and Banknotes

The Banco Central de Sao Tome e Principe (the country’s central bank) is responsible for the issuance and regulation of the currency. The dobra is issued in coinage as well as banknotes with the smallest denomination being the 100-dobra coin and the highest denomination being the 100,000-dobra banknote. Common banknotes of the currency are issued in 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, and 100,000 dobra denominations while coins are issued in 100, 250, 500, 1,000, and 2,000 denominations.

The real

The real (reis in plural) was the official currency in the Portuguese colony of Sao Tome and Principe since the islands were first inhabited in the 16th century. The Portuguese real was equivalent to the Sao Tome and Principe real. The colony issued its distinct coinage which was minted in 10, 40, and 80 reis denominations. The Banco Nacional Ultramarino, a Portuguese bank opened a branch in Sao Tome and Principe in 1868 and it began to issue Sao Tome and Principe real banknotes in 1897 which were in 1,000, 2,000, 2,500, 5,000, 10,000, and 20,000 real denominations. In 1903, the bank issued the 50,000-real banknote which is the currency's largest denomination. The real was replaced by the escudo in 1917.

The escudo

In 1911, Portugal replaced its official currency from the Portuguese real to the Portuguese escudo as a result of the 1910 Republican Revolution where the monarch was deposed and the country was established as a republic. The change in currency was replicated in many Portuguese colonies all over the world including Sao Tome and Principe. The Portuguese colony replaced the real with the escudo in 1914 at the rate of 1 escudo being equivalent to 1,000 reals. The Sao Tome and Principe escudo was replaced by the dobra in 1977 at par.

The Sao Tome and Principe Escudo Coins and Banknotes

The currency was made up of 100 subunits known as centavos. The Sao Tome and Principe escudo was issued by the Banco Nacional Ultramarino which initially only issued escudo banknotes with the colony using Portuguese escudo coins. The banknotes issued were in 20-, 50-, 100-, 500-, and 1,000-escudo denominations. The Banco Nacional Ultramarino issued the first Sao Tome and Principe escudo coins in 1929 in 10-, 20-, and 50-centavo coins. The 5, 10, and 20 escudo coins were produced in cupro-nickel coins while the 10, 20, and 50 centavo coins were produced in bronze coins. In 1971, the bank issued the aluminum 10 centavo coins in its final issue of coinage.

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