LISBON: Evaristo Carvalho, a former president of the tiny archipelago of Sao Tome and Principe, died late Saturday at the age of 80 in a Lisbon hospital after a long illness, his family told Portuguese media.

Carvalho held the largely ceremonial post of president from 2016 to 2021 in the former Portuguese colony of 210,000 people in the Gulf of Guinea off West Africa.

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo presented his condolences following the announcement, in a statement on the presidency's website.

The president in Portuguese-speaking Sao Tome has largely ceremonial powers, authorised to arbitrate in political disputes but not to govern, although the tiny island chain has a long tradition of strong democracy.

Power lies with the prime minister, a post that Carvalho also held twice, from July-October 1994 and from September 2001 to March 2002.

Sao Tome exports cocoa and coffee and also lives on subsistence farming, fishing and tourism, but it remains overwhelmingly dependent on international aid.

About one-third of the population lives on less than the international poverty line of $1.90 a day, and more than two-thirds are classified as poor, according to the World Bank.

Sao Tome's parliamentary system has fostered a tradition of peaceful transitions of power.

It opened up to a multiparty system in 1991 after 15 years of single-party rule by a Marxist regime.