What Is the São Tome & Principe Dobra (STD)?

STD is the currency abbreviation for the São Tomé & Príncipe dobra, the official currency for São Tomé & Príncipe, an island nation close to the equator just off the west coast of central Africa. The São Tomé & Príncipe dobra is often presented locally with the symbol "Db", and is made up of 100 cêntimos, but inflation has made cêntimos virtually worthless.

As of August 2020, $1 USD is equal to roughly 21,000 STD.

Key Takeaways

  • The dobra (STD) is the official currency of the equatorial African island nation of São Tome & Principe.
  • Prior to its adoption of the dobra in 1977, São Tome & Principe used the escudo, which was modeled after the Portuguese escudo as it was formerly a Portuguese colonly until 1975.
  • As of 2010, the dobra is pegged to the euro at a rate of 1:24,500.

Understanding the São Tome & Principe Dobra

São Tomé & Príncipe was a Portuguese colony from 1470 until 1975, when it gained its independence. The São Tomé & Príncipe dobra replaced the country’s previous currency, the escudo, at a rate of 1:1 in 1977. The escudo used by São Tomé & Príncipe was equivalent to the Portuguese escudo and made up of 100 centavos. The word dobra comes from the Portuguese word dóbra, meaning "doubloon".

In 1977, coins were struck in cêntimos and lower denomination dobras (one, two and five dobra coins). Rampant inflation has since made these coins obsolete and the government created new coins in 1997 with higher denominations to keep up with rising prices. Current denominations of the dobra include banknotes of 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 dobras as well as coins of 100, 250, 500, 1,000 and 2,000 dobras.

In 2010, the dobra was pegged to the euro (EUR) at a fixed exchange rate of 1 EUR to 24,500 STD.

The Economy of São Tome and Principe

Historically, Sao Tome and Principe’s economy was largely dependent on the production and export of cocoa beans, but because of a persistent drought in the region, exports of cocoa beans have declined in recent years. Other local agricultural exports from the country include coffee and palm oil, and the country is actively investing in its tourism industry.

São Tome and Principe, as of 2017, had a gross domestic product of $372 million with annual GDO growth of 1.9% and inflation of 6.7% in 2019, but with limited local production. As a result, Sao Tome and Principe relies heavily on imports for everything from food to fuel and manufactured goods. Because of this, domestic prices are very sensitive to international price fluctuations. The one exception to this is oil prices, which are fixed.

There is a nascent oil extraction industry in the Gulf of Guinea, which the nation is developing in conjunction with its neighbor Nigeria. These new deep sea oil fields could help boost the country’s economy and attract new rounds of foreign investment. However, analysts do not expect production of oil to start until after 2020.