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Island Information

Read about our island

Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it.
Samuel Johnson

As if being a beautiful sub-tropical island paradise is not enough, St Helena has many interesting aspects…

 

…and many of them are mentioned here. If there is something about St Helena that we have not covered please contact us and we’ll try to add it in.

Because this page has items listed, we also have a number of more focussed indexes (see below).

Long view of St Helena

The Pages

Information Index
Start here… • This is the master index of all our island information pages

Community Pages
It’s what’s happening… • This is an index to our pages relating to community groups and activities.

Subject Index
These are the pages you are searching for • All good books contain an index…

Glossary
Terms used • Here are some terms used on St Helena or within Saint Helena Island Info that we thought might benefit from further explanation

Picture Gallery
Thumbnails that can be expanded to full size images • Enjoy a selection of pictures from St Helena.

Historic Picture Gallery
Thumbnails that can be expanded to full size images • Enjoy a selection of historic pictures from St Helena.

Slide Show
Automated picture show in random sequence • Enjoy a selection of pictures from St Helena.

Historic Images Slide Show
Automated historic image show in random sequence • Enjoy a selection of historic images from St Helena.

Today’s Images
Look at what we feature • Enjoy two of our images, featured today

Image Search
Find images on our site • This page provides a facility to find images on our site

About This Site
Things to help you use Saint Helena Island Info • Why is this site here? How do you get the best from it? Read on…

Air-Quality
In the top 15% globally • Of all the world’s reporting stations, St Helena’s air is in the top 15%

Alarm Forest
The place to live • Alarm Forest is St Helena’s newest district, and has become a sought-after place to live.

Artists
Recording images of St Helena • Many artists have turned their talents to making a visual record of St Helena

Astronomy
Dark skies, warm nights • Want to really see the stars? And not freeze while doing so?

Before Discovery
Why did it take until 1502? • How come Africa and South America were known before St Helena was discovered?

Betsy Balcombe
Napoleon’s Friend • Napoleon’s relationship with a young girl has led to much speculation, but what do we really know?

Birds
Masters of the air • We have an eclectic collection of birds

Blogs
Writing about St Helena • Many people have written Blogs about St Helena. Here are some…

The ‘Blue Book’
The Annual Colonial Report • The ‘Blue Book’s are a valuable reference for the history of St Helena, 1845-1973

Blue Hill
Not many have been there • Blue Hill is the least densely populated area of St Helena, and is mostly undeveloped or agricultural land.

Boer Prisoners (1900-1902)
Home-from-home? Not really… • From 1900 to 1902 St Helena became the first overseas prisoner-of-war camp.

The Briars Pavilion
Napoleon’s Other House • Before Longwood House was ready, Napoleon stayed at the Briars Pavilion

Bridge Memorial Clock
Tick Tock • Jamestown’s Bridge Memorial Clock keeps the town running on time…more or less

A Brief History
How we got to here • A lot has happened on St Helena in its !-year history. Here are the highlights.

Building St Helena Airport
Built and operating • Building St Helena Airport may have been the biggest single construction project in the island’s history

Carnival
Fun in the sun • Every second year, in October, St Helena has its Carnival.

The Castle
The most important of the Public Buildings • The seat of Government for ! years.

Castle Gardens
Sit and watch the world go by • Castle Gardens, in the heart of Jamestown, is a great place to just sit and watch the world bustle by.

Characters of St Helena
Eccentric? Colourful? Mad? You decide… • Some of the island’s residents have been a little outside the normal…

Christmas
A great time to be here • Christmas in St Helena occurs in the early summer so the fun and festivities have a distinctly outdoor flavour.

Chronology
Search our events database • This page provides a selectable subset of the island’s chronology, dating back to the discovery of St Helena

Churches of St Helena
And other religious buildings • St Helena has historic and more modern churches to investigate.

Cinema
Let’s go to a movie • What could be better than a night out at the cinema?

Classic Cars
Travel back in time • One of the stranger features of St Helena is the collection of classic cars, mostly not just in running order but actually in day-to-day use.

St Helena Coffee
‘The only good thing about St Helena is the coffee’ - Napoleon Bonaparte • St Helena coffee has been judged the best in the world. It’s also possibly the rarest in the world. And the best place to buy it is here!

Notes and Coins of St Helena
Money, Money, Money • St Helena has its own banknotes and coinage .

Communications
Getting the message • We’re not exactly up-to-date but we can still communicate with the world.

Comparative History
Here and there • This is where we set our earlier history into context (from 1500-1899)

Our Constitution
Our supreme legislative document • All of our local laws are made under the authority of St Helena’s Constitution.

Country Music
Keepin’ it country… • If you like good ol’ country music this is the place for you .

Cruise Ship Days
An unusual hive of activity • When a cruise ship arrives, St Helena is an unusual hive of activity.

Dark Tourism
Visiting the darker parts of our history. • Like everywhere else, our history has its darker parts.

Deliberately Sunken Ships
Sent to the bottom • We have no marine scrapyard so unwanted ships are re-purposed as an artificial reef

Diana’s Peak
Our highest point • Diana’s Peak is highest place on our island, and also one of the more interesting.

Diplomatic Wireless Station
Or was it spying? • St Helena used to host a Diplomatic Wireless Station, but what did it actually do?

Discovery of St Helena
It’s not that simple • ‘Everybody knows’ that St Helena was discovered on 21st May 1502…but actually it wasn’t

Diving
For old wrecks - and anyone else • The clear and unpolluted waters around St Helena provide ample opportunities for divers of all abilities. And the island’s seafaring history contributes plenty to explore. Read on to find out more …

Duke of Edinburgh Playground
For Kids; For Everyone • An important recreational space in the heart of Jamestown

Dolphin watching
And other marine activities • The waters around St Helena provide ample opportunities for all sorts of marine activities.

Donkeys
Formerly the backbone of St Helena transport • For many years before the arrival of the motor car donkeys equus africanus asinus were the mainstay of St Helena transport.

Do they mean us?
Some poorly researched pieces to amuse • Most of the people who write about St Helena have never been here, and what they write can be fascinating… and wrong!

Driving in St Helena
Keep left…almost always • If you’re here for a few days or less you can take a tour. Otherwise you’ll need to drive.

The Early Years
Before colonisation • St Helena was discovered 157 years before the English colonised it. What happened in that time?

Easter Activities
Fishing and camping • Easter is a time for outdoor activities.

The East India Company
John, to its friends • The East India Company administered St Helena until 1834

Education
The Three ‘R’s • Unusually, St Helena was quite advanced in its attitude to education

Endemic Species
They only live here • St Helena is officially recognised as Britain’s wealthiest place on Earth when it comes to natural treasures.

Escape!
The ones that got away • Nowadays people want to get here, but that wasn’t always the case

Exiles
Not all our visitors wanted to be here! • St Helena has had some visitors who were not at all pleased to be here…

Family And Friends
How to find people on St Helena • If you want to trace long lost relatives or friends on St Helena, or just find a pen-pal, here are some tips.

Famous Visitors
Let’s drop a few names • Over the years St Helena has had many famous visitors . You can read about some of them here.

The First Battle For St Helena?
Well, maybe… • The English settled ‘uninhabited’ St Helena in 1659, but about 35 years before did they actually fight to conquer it?

Fishcakes, and other food
A taste of St Helena • Here are some of the foods you can taste when you visit. And we’ve provided recipes so you can try them at home.

Fishing
Hook, line and sinker • Surrounded by sea, fishing is inevitably part of our culture.

Fish Processing
Exploiting our only natural resource • For more than a century St Helena has been trying to earn money from the sea

Our Flag
You may want to salute • St Helena has its own flag, which is flown at all important events and occasions.

The Flax Industry
Economic lifeline or ecological disaster? • From 1907 until 1966 St Helena’s flax industry was the engine of its economy. Now there is nothing left.

Fly here
The fastest way to get here • Flying is the fastest way to get to St Helena…

Fly Yourself Here
Open for visitors • You are now able to fly here in your own plane.

Forts and Batteries
Defensive military installations • St Helena was always defended, ever since the Dutch invaded the island in the 17th century

The Missing Fountain Mystery
Where did it go? • A monument to a great disaster, which disappeared mysteriously in the 1940s.

The Friendly Societies
Lending a hand • Before Social Security there were the Friendly Societies

Geology of St Helena
Upon this rock… • St Helena was created not just by one but by two volcanoes.

Getting Here
How to travel to St Helena • Despite its isolation, St Helena is not quite as difficult to get to as you might imagine.

Ghost Stories of St Helena
Don’t look round, but… • St Helena has more than its share of ghost stories.

Government
For the people, by the people? • St Helena is now almost completely a democracy…

The Governor of St Helena
The British monarch’s official representative • The Governor of St Helena is the representative of the British monarch.

The Governor’s Cup
The yacht-race from Cape Town to St Helena • The Governor’s Cup is a 2,700Km bi-annual yacht race from Cape Town, South Africa, to James Bay, St Helena Island.

The Governor’s Hat
If you want to get ahead… • Until recently, for all ceremonial occasions our Governor’s uniform included a hat.

‘Gravity Rush’
It’s all downhill from here • OK, although not exactly Formula 1…

The Great Wood Wall
Too little, too late • The ‘Great Wood Wall’ was an early, but sadly unsuccessful, attempt at conservation.

Guns
Old and older • With all the military history of St Helena it’s no surprise that the island has lots of old guns.

Half Tree Hollow
Home on the hill • Half Tree Hollow (‘HTH’) is the most populous district on St Helena.

Amateur (‘Ham’) Radio
CQ, CQ, CQ • Before international telephones and the Internet there was Amateur Radio - still going strong on St Helena.

The Heart Shaped Waterfall
For lovers everywhere • If you travel out of Jamestown towards the Napoleonic Sites you can’t miss the Heart Shaped Waterfall.

The Historic Environment Record
A catalogue… • The Historic Environment Record is a database of anything old and important on the island.

High Knoll Fort
Important, in the past and today • As the largest military installation on the island High Knoll Fort is certainly important; and it’s also interesting…

Historians of St Helena
Recording our past • Over the years various people have taken it upon themselves to document the history of our island. Here we introduce some of them.

Historic Buildings
A standing reminder • St Helena has an abundance of interesting historic buildings to explore.

Historic Buildings In Brief - Country
A sample • St Helena has many historic buildings. The ones here are only introduced - to learn more, just explore them!

Historic Buildings In Brief - Jamestown
A sample • St Helena has many historic buildings. The ones here are only introduced - to learn more, just explore them!

Holidays and other festivals
Time to celebrate • St Helena celebrates nine public holidays each year.

Houses
A home on the range • In what kind of houses do people live on St Helena?

How Small Is St Helena?
Stand by to be surprised • Most people cannot grasp how small St Helena actually is.

Important People
They made their mark • Several people really made their mark in the lives of the people of St Helena. Some are featured below…

Industries
It’s the economy, stupid • St Helena has never been economically self-sufficient; but it wasn’t for the want of trying.

In This Week
This Week, in history • Events that happened in St Helena’s history on dates related to this week

Invasion!
The only time St Helena has been captured • St Helena has only ever been successfully invaded once. This is the story.

Jacob’s Ladder
Stairway to heaven? • ‘Jacob’s Ladder’? That’s something to do with the Bible, isn’t it? To find out, read on…

Jamestown
Where it all happens • On the whole, if something is going to happen in St Helena, it’s likely it’s going to happen in Jamestown.

Jobs on St Helena
You want to work here? • Want to live here but need to work to support yourself? Read on…

Jonathan the tortoise
The world’s oldest land resident? • Jonathan is believed to be the world’s oldest living land animal.

Lace Making
Over 100 years of history • Lace making started in St Helena at the end of the 19th Century and continues today.

The Leisure Park
Eat, drink and be merry • The Leisure Park at the Seaside is a place to relax and enjoy life.

Lemon Valley
Everything but the lemons • Lemon Valley is a popular recreation spot, with added historic interest.

Levelwood
Quiet and rural • Levelwood; as rural as Blue Hill though somewhat smaller.

Could you live here?
Some of what you need to consider • There’s lots of information on this website about visiting St Helena, but what about moving here to live permanently? Is it what you want? Are you up to the challenge? Think so? Read on…

‘Local’?
Isn’t that everything? • You could argue that, on a small island like St Helena, everything is ‘local’. But you’d be wrong…

Longwood
More than just Napoleon… • Longwood is most famous for housing St Helena’s best-known exile, but it also has strong connections to the island’s future.

Longwood House
Napoleon’s residence • For most of his time on St Helena, Napoleon Bonaparte lived at Longwood House.

Lost and almost-lost Buildings
‘In need of some work…’ • Conservation and heritage are relatively new concepts on St Helena…

Lost Ships
Our seabed is littered with wrecks • Here we tell the story of some of the ships lost at or near St Helena.

Maldivia Gardens
Fruit, flowers and much more…formerly • The Maldivia Gardens were formerly one of the island’s more productive plantations

Maps of St Helena
Finding your way around • St Helena has been mapped, accurately and not so accurately, for five hundred years.

Memories of St Helena
‘Well, back in the day…’ • This page contains short stories written by people who visited St Helena long ago, recalling their visits.

The Millennium Forest
Haven’t you grown… • St Helena aims to recreate the ‘Great Wood’ - a natural forest destroyed in the 17th Century.

The Mule Yard
No longer a place for donkeys • The Mule Yard is the main permanent outdoor performance and event venue in Jamestown.

Myths Debunked!
Everybody knows that… • While researching for this website we were told many things that ‘everybody knows’, many of which proved to be untrue. We detail them here.

Our island’s name
What, exactly, is it? • What, exactly, is our island’s name? ‘St. Helena’, ‘St Helena’, ‘Saint Helena’, ‘St. Helena Island’, ‘Island of St. Helena’…

Napoleon
His imprisonment, his death, and some things you maybe don’t know about him • Napoleon Bonaparte may have made St Helena famous but how much do you actually know about him?

Napoleonic Bicentenary
A reason to celebrate… • Napoleon Bonaparte lived on St Helena from October 1815 to May 1821.

Napoleon’s Tomb
But not his final resting place • Set in Sane Valley it is a peaceful spot for quiet contemplation of the life of Napoleon.

National Flower
Unique to St Helena • Our national flower was thought to be extinct and only rediscovered in 1980.

Our national song, ‘My St Helena Island’
Unofficially, at least • Find out how a non-Saint who had never even been to St Helena came to record the island’s national song…

National Symbols
Official and otherwise • A collection of the National Symbols of St Helena; official and otherwise…

Our Newspapers
All the week’s news and views • Our two newspapers. Every week.

Nicknames
Who on earth is ‘Gavin Ellick’? • Because we have so few surnames, most people have nicknames.

Observatories
Monitoring and measuring • Because of its location St Helena was chosen for many scientific observations

On This Day
Today, in history • Events that happened in St Helena’s history on dates related to today.

Other Military Sites
…and related places • St Helena has many other military-related structures that are not forts…

The Castle of Otranto
A puzzling name • A 19th Century map shows ‘The Castle of Otranto’. Where is it and why is it so named?

Pantomime
Oh, yes it is…! • Every year the ‘Ivylets’ treat us to a Pantomime.

Photography
Leave only footprints; take only photographs • With such a variety of scenery and outdoor activities compressed into such a small space, St Helena offers much to the keen photographer, of whatever level of experience.

Place Names
Some we can explain; some we can’t • You will encounter many interesting place names on St Helena. Here is why some of them are so named…

Plantation House
The Governor’s Residence • Plantation House has been the official home of the Governor of St Helena since 1792.

Postage Stamps
Write me a letter …write it today • St Helena has been issuing its own postage stamps since 1856, and they are very collectable.

Postcards of St Helena
Old…and older • St Helena has never had a large tourist industry, but it has always had plenty of postcards.

Quincentenary of St Helena
‘Looking Up - Looking Forward’ • We celebrated the Quincentenary (500 years) of our discovery on 21st May 2002.

Radio on St Helena
A surprisingly large number of stations • With three current stations and several amateur operators St Helena’s radio waves are truly buzzing.

Radio St Helena
The voice of the island for 45 years • Radio St Helena broadcast to St Helena and the world for 45 years.

Our (Other) Railway
Useful; not quite as famous • Everyone knows about the ‘Inclined Plane’ that became Jacob’s Ladder, but that was not St Helena’s only railway…

Reading Sports
Home from home • Every August Bank Holiday, Saints from all over the UK (and beyond) gather in Reading for a weekend of fun.

The St Helena Regiment
‘The Old Saints’ • For well over twenty years St Helena was garrisoned by its own infantry regiment, Her Majesty’s St Helena Regiment of Foot; the most popular corps to serve the Island during colonial times.

Renewable Energy
Being a ‘green’ island • With support from DFID, St Helena is moving forward with the use of renewable energy.

RMS St Helena
Two remarkable ships: 1978-2018 • From October 1978 until February 2018 St Helena was served by two remarkable ships.

Roads
Take me home… • Roads may not sound exciting, but many of our roads have a fascinating history.

Rollers
Rough Seas • Mostly the sea around St Helena is calm, but just now and again… These are the ‘Rollers’.

The Run
Think of it as a long, thin park • Every Capital City needs a river. Jamestown has ‘The Run’

Ruperts
So near, and yet so far • Ruperts is the valley next to James Valley, yet by tourists it is rarely visited.

S.A.M.S. Radio 1
News, features and entertainment • S.A.M.S. Radio 1 broadcasts a mixture of news, features and entertainment.

S.A.M.S. Radio 2
The BBC World Service on FM • S.A.M.S. Radio 2 re-broadcasts the BBC World Service.

S.A.M.S. Pure Gold
Continuous music • S.A.M.S. Pure Gold broadcast continuous music.

Saint FM Community Radio
News, features and entertainment • Saint FM Community Radio broadcasts music, news and features.

Saint FM (2004-2012)
The Heartbeat of St Helena • Although only launched in 2005, Saint FM quickly became part of island life, and was sorely missed when it closed.

Saint Helena
She gave our island her name • St Helena Island is named after Saint Helena, a Christian saint. But who was she? What did she do? And why does our island bear her name ? If you like mysteries, read on…

Saints
Maybe it’s a state of mind? • Saints are renowned for their warm, friendly and welcoming attitude to visitors, but what are we like to live amongst?

Sandy Bay
Let’s go to the beach! • Beaches are in short supply on St Helena but Sandy Bay has one…

Saved Buildings
Almost lost; now restored • Some of our historic buildings were thought lost, but have now been restored.

‘Seabirds’
Fairy Terns… and others • One of our sea-birds is known as a ‘Seabird’. Confused? Read on…

The St Helena Secret
A complete failure! • The Portuguese tried to keep their discovery of St Helena a secret. They failed!

The Seven Wonders of St Helena
Your itinerary? • The ancient world is not alone in having Seven Wonders - and these are ones you can see today!

Ships
Mentioned on these pages • An index of ships and other vessels mentioned on these pages

Our Sister Islands
Part of our Territory • Administratively St Helena is part of a three-island Territory: St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

Slaves and slavery
Part of what makes us what we are • Although St Helena is best known for the liberation of slaves, its earlier history is rather darker. Read about both below, and also about the impact of slavery on St Helena today.

Exploring Space
To the stars and beyond • What could St Helena possibly have to do with space exploration?

Speak Saint
Understand what Saints are saying • English may be St Helena’s official language, but isolation and our complex heritage have given islanders a special way of speaking.

Sport in St Helena
Playing the game • Despite its tiny population, a wide variety of sports is played regularly on St Helena.

St Helena’s Day
Celebrating our island’s discovery • Every year on 21st May we celebrate our island’s discovery.

St. James’ Church
The oldest Anglican church in the Southern Hemisphere • Built in 1774 St. James’ Church is the oldest Anglican church in the Southern Hemisphere

St. Paul’s Cathedral
Important, but with humble beginnings • Originally just the ‘Country Church’, St. Paul’s now has Cathedral status.

St Pauls
The Heartland of St Helena • St Pauls is the heartland of St Helena, and yet it remains largely untouched by the events of history.

Origins of island surnames
How islanders got their family names • The surnames on St Helena are as curious as the ancestry of its people.

Go Swimming!
People have been doing it since the Stone Age • When it’s hot, there’s nothing like a dip for cooling off.

Theatres
All the world’s a stage • Currently St Helena doesn’t have a working theatre; but we used to…

Time
Everything on St Helena starts 20 minutes late • Ever wondered why everything on St Helena starts 20 minutes late? Read on…

Titbits from the records
To amuse and inform • We quote elsewhere extensively from the Records, and here are some items that are interesting but didn’t fit in anywhere else.

Two St Helenas?
Our mythical sister island • For at least sixty years it was widely believed that there were two St Helenas…

Unrest and Rebellion
We’re not gonna take it! • St Helena today is peaceful, welcoming and friendly, but it wasn’t always considered so.

A Very Brief History
The most important bits • The shortest accurate history possible without missing anything important

Visitor Information
Come and discover our island • St Helena is approximately 1,900Km west of the Angola/Namibia border, in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Walking St Helena
Well off the beaten track • You can see a lot of St Helena from a car, but finding the best places involves a bit of walking…

Water
Have a drink! • St Helena’s supply of fresh water was always an important resource

Weather and climate
Be prepared! • St Helena was first settled by the English, so of course we like to talk about the weather…

Get Married Here
…a memorable place • If you want an unusual place for your wedding, choose St Helena.

Whale Sharks
Fun to swim with! • Every year in February/March Whale Sharks visit St Helena, and you can swim with them!

Whaling
‘Thar she blows!’ • Whaling is one of the many aspects of world history in which St Helena played a part.

Shopping: What to buy
A bit of St Helena to take home • Apart from photographs, what else will you take back with you after your visit? You can find a few suggestions for your shopping below…

What To Do
The essential things to do • These are our ‘top 20’ recommended things to do on St Helena.

Where is St Helena?
How to find St Helena on a map • St Helena is approximately 1,900Km west of the Angola/Namibia border, in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Where To Stay
Some advice for first-time visitors • If you are coming for a short visit you need to decide where to stay. Here is some advice.

White Ants
A pest by any other name… • More than just slaves were liberated from the intercepted slave ships.

The Wirebird
Bird on a wire? • The Wirebird is St Helena’s only surviving endemic bird.

Yachting
A convenient stopover in the South Atlantic • Since it’s discovery St Helena has been a convenient stop-over in the South Atlantic.

Zzyzx
Anything that didn’t fit in elsewhere • A collection of items that, while about or related to St Helena, did not justify a page of their own or fit into any of our other pages.

Read articles about St Helena
Articles related to the Island of St Helena • Read how St Helena has been reported in the world’s media.

Please note that our Community Pages are not included in the index above.

If what you’re looking for isn’t in this index, please consult our Information Index page (the master index) or use the Page Search facility (below).

Saint Helena Island Info currently has information pages, so to help you explore and find what you are looking for we have organised them with various subject groupings. If your interest is our natural environment, start with the Nature Pages index and navigate easily through all of these. Similarly if you want to know about activities, or people, or history, or places… Each subject group has a symbol - a small coloured icon with the first two letters of the subject name - and these appear on every page within the subject group, as follows (links are to our Information Index page):

activity

Our activity pages

history

Our history pages

people

Our people pages

place

Our place pages

nature

Our nature pages

structures

Our structures pages

pictures

Our pictures pages

detail

All our information pages

community

The Community pages

Of course, a page can appear in more than one index. Our Napoleon page, for example, is in ‘people’ and ‘history’.

 

Large island aerial view, from the North
Large island aerial view, from the North{a}

Laugh at funny Island Information humour - LOL

This is a student’s drawing from 2003, on the theme ‘The Future of St Helena’

Credits:
{a} Tourist Office

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