The entire island of São Tomé is a massive shield volcano which rises from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, over 3,000 m (10,000 ft) below sea level. It formed along the Cameroon line, a linear rift zone extending from Cameroon southwest into the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the lava erupted on São Tomé over the last million years has been basalt. The youngest dated rock on the island is about 100,000 years old, but numerous more recent cinder cones are found on the southeast side of the island.
Fradique de Menezes was born on the then Portuguese colony of São Tomé in 1942, the son of a Portuguese man and a local woman. He attended high school in Portugal, and then studied Education and Psychology at the Free University of Brussels (now split into the Université Libre de Bruxelles and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel). Menezes is a successful businessman. He was foreign minister of São Tome and Príncipe from 1986 until 1987. He was elected President in July 2001 with about 55.2% of the vote, defeating Manuel Pinto da Costa, who received about 40%. Menezes took office on September 3, 2001. His eligibility as a candidate was questioned, since he also held Portuguese citizenship, but he renounced this and his candidacy was approved. On July 16, 2003, while he was away in Nigeria, there was a military coup d'etat led by Fernando Pereira, but Menezes would be later restored back to power on July 23, 2003, following an agreement.