St. Thomas and Prince (Sao Tome & Principe in Portuguese) is an island country in the Gulf of Guinea off the western coast of Central Africa. It was a former Portuguese colony from 1470 until its independence in 1975.
St. Thomas & Prince uses the Sao Tome & Principe Dobra as its official currency. One dobra is equivalent to 100 centimos. It replaced the escudo in 1977 at par. Its name comes from the Portuguese word for doubloon. Sao Tome and Principe signed a deal with Portugal that linked the dobra with the euro. The rate was fixed at 1 euro to 24,500 dobras (STD) in 2010. As of writing, the dobra is pegged to the euro at a rate of one euro to 24.5 new dobras (STN).
National Bank of St. Thomas & Prince
After St. Thomas & Prince gained its independence in 1975, the Banco Nacional Ultramarino (National Overseas Bank) was nationalized. The bank was also renamed Banco Nacional de S. Tome e Principe.
The National Bank introduced the dobra in 1977. The first family of dobra notes featured Protasio Pina’s portrait of Rei Amador. Rei Amador (King Amador) was said to have been the king of the Angolares and led an unsuccessful slave revolt against the Portuguese in 1595. Other features in the first family of dobra notes included local flora and fauna and vignettes of island life. This design persisted until 1993.
Central Bank of St. Thomas & Prince
Sao Tome and Principe experienced an economic crisis in the 1980s. This economic crisis led to a lack of confidence in the banking system and currency. The government established the Banco Central de S. Tome e Principe (BCSTP) in 1992 to implement financial policies, supervise the activities of commercial banks, and carry out other central banking responsibilities.
In 1996, the Central Bank issued a new family of notes. It eliminated the 500 dobra and 1,000 dobras and introduced new designs. The notes still featured Rei Amador on all the notes except the 100,000 dobra note. Instead of different flora and fauna, the fronts only featured different species of birds. Panoramic views of landscapes were featured at the back of the notes.
The 100,000 dobra note was introduced in 2008. It was the only note in the 1996 family to not feature Rei Amador. Instead, it highlighted the poet Francisco Jose Tenreiro and his poem “In Coracao em Africa” (Courage in Africa). The gray parrot, a compass rose, and a silver foil open book were also featured in the front. The back of the note featured men celebrating the Auto de Floripes in front of a monument in Santo Antonio. Security features of the note included a solid security thread, another solid security thread with demetalized BCSTP, and a watermark of Rei Amador. The note was 150 mm long and 67 mm wide.
The Modern Dobra
In 2017, the dobra was reintroduced at a rate of 1,000 old dobras to 1 new dobra. The currency code of the dobra changed from STD to STN to reflect this change. The new notes were unveiled in 2017 during the Central Bank’s 25th-anniversary celebration and were introduced a year later. The notes showcased indigenous butterflies in front and wildlife at the back and had upgraded security features. The 5 dobra note and 10 dobra note were printed on polymer substrate. The four other denominations (20 dobras, 50 dobras, 100 dobras, 200 dobras) had Depth Image holograms and StarChrome windowed security threads.
The old and new series of notes circulated in parallel until June 30, 2018. The old notes were then pulled out of circulation and were depositable in commercial banks until December 2018 and at the Central Bank until December 2019.