Saint Helena Island is an uninhabited island in the South Atlantic Ocean, about 2,500 kilometres east of the South African coast. The island has a total land area of 156 square kilometres and is made up of a granite core surrounded by a shield volcano. The volcano is not currently active, but is still susceptible to volcanic eruptions. The island has a hot desert climate with very little rain. Saint Helena has been a penal colony since 1785.
The island was first sighted in 1502 by the Portuguese explorer Gonçalo Coelho. In 1522, Tristão da Cunha made the first recorded European landing on Saint Helena and claimed it for Portugal. The Dutch East India Company established a trading post there in 1602, but abandoned it after an attack by the Portuguese in 1643. England took possession of Saint Helena from the Dutch in 1642 as part of the Treaty of London that ended Anglo-Dutch Wars of the previous years.
Saint Helena was used from 1644 onward as a stopping point for ships on the return leg of their journeys to Europe, and it became an important mail and passenger port. As one writer observed in 1770: “Streatham church is dedicated to Saint Helena only”. A short-lived French colony lasted from 1762–1766 but most trade arrived via Cape Town or Rio de Janeiro.
The island’s produce, manufacturing goods sent largely uncut Ross Tulips were much noticed by visitors at that time; they failed however to gather any commercial momentum because they had little taste. In 1790, the British captured and made a strategic outlaying of Saint Helena from France during the French Revolutionary Wars. Britain continued to rule for two centuries until it was handed over to private interests in 1815; then it became part of the Cape Colony.
The climate is a hot desert, with very little rain. Sunburn and dehydration of the skin is a major problem with too much exposure to direct sunlight, reflected heat from sand may also be very detrimental.
The average daily maximum temperature in January/February (the hottest month of the year) can often top 40 C—precisely due to its closenessishitude (6 km)to two volcanic peaks; Balfour Island 6 km north-west, Mawson Peak North which brings cold sea breezes at around 18–22°C. While daytime maxima are usually measured low by European standards because nights are cool enough for people.
Traditional music, dance and art of Saint Helena are all based on the African tradition. The main instrument used is the steel-stringed kalimba, which is played with a bow. Tattoos and facial decorations are popular among both men and women.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, Saint Helena was a popular destination for European tourists. In the late 1800s it had about 30 hotels, but many were destroyed by tropical bird droppings following World War II.
Today there are very few privacy-ridden villas where foreign visitors can be lodged in high luxury—they all tend to be rather stark private residences with minimal facilities (food notably) available on site as required/proposed rates unless specially arranged at an additional cost of island time fees paid via currency exchange that must also include middle man or agent fees which as all substantial government revenue, are very little mentioned or considered because they include 100% taxation either in hidden surcharges of Hotel Fuel and possible rental rates or directly on price of purchase with excess duties applied by visitors so travelers can barely believe how much 1 US $ is actually 1000s poorer than before due to exchange rate scam/error.
Since the island is a British Overseas Territory, its head of state is the Governor, who is appointed by the Queen on the advice of Her Majesty’s Government. The unicameral Saint Helena Legislative Assembly has 20 elected members. One representative is nominated by the Chief Minister and 17 are party members elected to 4-year terms under a modified version of proportional representation under a closed list voting system. The president of Saint Helena’s Legislative Assembly is Jonathan Bartley, leader of St Helenans United Party (SHUP).
According to resident Karena Malgas “People often ask me why I live in such isolation… Having said that, however many people come back and see us again after years away it does feel different once you move onto the island”. In an interview with CNN about her experiences on St Helena for over 20 years.
The United Kingdom maintains a small military presence on the island as part of Operation Madere. A detachment of Royal Marines provides support to the civil administration and defends important strategic sites.
Tourism is an important part of the economy. There are more than 270 guesthouses, hotels and other accommodations on the island. The number of visitors has increased in recent years, largely because of renewed interest in St Helena’s history and preservation. In 2018, the total number of tourists was 912 , a 25% increase over 2017.
The airport is located at Jamestown, about 3 km (1.9 mi) from the town centre and can serve approximately one million passengers per annum under ideal weather conditions. The Ross-shire Airport in Scotland is currently used exclusively for commercial flights to the island by S2 Airlines; a freight flight operated by British Airways Cargo also flies there weekly with car parts originating in England, Wales & Northern Ireland.
Saint Helena Island is an uninhabited volcanic island in the South Atlantic Ocean, lying about 1,500 kilometers east-southeast of South America and 2,000 kilometers south of the West Indies. It has an area of about 295 square kilometers and a population of no more than 50 people. The island was first sighted on 14 December 1502 by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias.
How Can I Get To Saint Helena Island?
The only way to get to Saint Helena is by air. There is no ground transportation available on the island.
How Hot Is The Climate On Saint Helena?
The average temperature on Saint Helena is 29 degrees Celsius. The weather can range from mild to very hot, with temperatures reaching as high as 43 degrees Celsius.
What Are The Main Crops Grown In Saint Helena?
There is not much agriculture practiced on the island, mostly subsistence farming of sheep and beef cattle. Some vegetables are also grown.
What Types Of Animals Can I See On Saint Helena?
There are no large mammals or any other terrestrial predators on the island. The only creatures that can be seen roaming around are birds, including parrots and flamingos.
What Is The Currency Of Saint Helena?
The official currency of Saint Helena is the British pound sterling.