São Tomé and Príncipe is one of the smallest African sovereign states and the smallest Portuguese-speaking country. Discovered and claimed by Portugal in the late 15th century, the island was uninhabited before the arrival of the Portuguese and it was then settled by African slaves. The rich volcanic soil and proximity to the Equator made São Tomé and Príncipe ideal for sugar cultivation (conducted by slave labour) and for some time the country was the world’s largest producer of sugar, but the rise of Brazilian competition determined an economic decline, accentuated by social instability as slaves revolted and raided the plantations. The independence of Brazil, the abolition of the slave trade, and the rise of coffee and cacao cultivations in the 19th century shifted attention back to São Tomé. These events eventually culminated in peaceful independence in 1975, after which São Tomé and Príncipe became one of Africa’s most stable and democratic countries. This small country has a homogeneous creole culture, profoundly marked by centuries of domination by Portuguese cultural influences. In fact, the lexicon of the three local creole languages is predominantly derived from Portuguese, while their phonology and syntax stem from African languages.