The economy is based on the export of agricultural products, especially cocoa, palm oil, bananas, coffee and coconuts. This concentration on cash crops, especially cocoa (most of which is exported) means that the country has to import most of its food.
Elimination of its debt a high priority for the government and it will be able to do this once revenues begin to flow from the oil and gas fields recently discovered in São Tomé's territorial waters.
The government hopes to promote the currently minute tourism industry.
Economic performance in recent years has been improving and is expected to get even better as revenue from oil starts to come in. Growth in 2007 was at 6.5%, with inflation at 17%.