Of São Tomé and Príncipe's total population, about 137,500 live on São Tomé and 6,000 on Príncipe. All are descended from various ethnic groups that have migrated to the islands since 1485. Seven groups are identifiable:
- Mestiços, or mixed-blood, descendants of Portuguese colonists and African slaves brought to the islands during the early years of settlement from Benin, Gabon, and Congo (these people also are known as filhos da terra or "sons of the land");
- Angolares, reputedly descendants of Angolan slaves who survived a 1540 shipwreck and now earn their livelihood fishing;
- Forros, descendants of freed slaves when slavery was abolished;
- Serviçais, contract laborers from Angola, Mozambique, and Cape Verde, living temporarily on the islands;
- Tongas, children of serviçais born on the islands;
- Europeans, primarily Portuguese;
- Asians, mostly Chinese minority, including Macanese people of mixed Portuguese and Chinese ancestry from Macau.