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Where is St Helena?

How to find St Helena on a map

In the visible world, the Milky Way is a tiny fragment; within this fragment, the solar system is an infinitesimal speck, and of this speck our planet is a microscopic dot. On this dot,…
Bertrand Russell in ‘Dreams and Facts’

St Helena is approximately 1,900Km west of the Angola/Namibia border, in the South Atlantic Ocean.

This page is in indexes: Island Place, Island Detail

Below: Where in the world is St HelenaFirst MapHow to get hereBritish Overseas TerritoryShipping LanesRead More

Its map coordinates are 5°45’00”W, 15°58’49”S. If you use a computerised map you’ll need that as decimals: lattitude -15.98018018; longitude -5.75. But you’ll need quite a large-scale map! St Helena is only 16 by 8 kilometres, or 121 km² - see our How Small Is St Helena? page to understand this better, which makes it one of the world’s smallest inhabited islands.

It has a population of around 4,500{1} and was discovered in 1502 by the Portugese. The currency is the St Helena Pound (SHP) and the international telephone dialling code is 290. Our timezone is GMT+0.

It’s hard to think of an isolated speck of land more synonymous with inaccessibility than St Helena.{a}

Where in the world is St Helena

Location map for St Helena 5°45’00”W 15°58’49”S Saint Helena Island Info Where is St Helena?
Location map for St Helena, 5°45’00”W, 15°58’49”S


Interactive map, by Google™ Maps{b}

You could also see…

If looking for St Helena on the Internet you might first want to check our island’s correct name.

And did you know there was once thought to be a second St Helena, side-by-side with us in the South Atlantic? Check out our page Two St Helenas? to read more.

Harbour view with sailing ship Saint Helena Island Info Where is St Helena?
Harbour view, with sailing ship

1929:

St. Helena lies in latitude 15.55 South and longitude 5.42 West. It is about 950 miles due south of the Equator, 4,000 miles from England, and 1,700 miles from Cape Town. The voyage from England occupies from 14 to 17 days, and from Cape Town from five to six days.

The area of the island is 47 square miles. The population is about 3,800, of whom about 1,500 live in Jamestown, the port and only town in the island.{c}

First Map

The first world map we can find that shows St Helena is by Abraham Ortelius - his ‘Theatrum Orbis Terrarum’ from 1570 (though if you know of an earlier example please contact us{2}). This demonstrates that the claim the Portuguese tried to keep St Helena a secret is untrue (or they failed!) - supported by the existence of German Valentim Fernandes’s 1506 map of St Helena.

Until a reliable way of establishing Longitude at sea was established (in the 18th Century) the usual way to locate St Helena was to get to Lattitude 16° and then sail east or west until the island was sighted! Of course, it mattered if you went east and St Helena was to your west…

Note also that, around 80 years later and for the following sixty years or so, map makers started showing two St Helenas on their maps!

Ortelius world map 1570 (full image 5816x3961 pixels 15.5Mb) Saint Helena Island Info Where is St Helena?
Ortelius world map, 1570 (full image: 5816x3961 pixels, 15.5Mb)

How to get here

The many ways to get to St Helena are discussed on our Getting Here page.

British Overseas Territory

British Overseas Territories Saint Helena Island Info Where is St Helena?

Extract from an 1886 map Saint Helena Island Info Where is St Helena?
Extract from an 1886 British Empire map

St Helena is part of the British Overseas Territory of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.

The name ‘British Overseas Territory’ was introduced by the British Overseas Territories Act 2002, replacing the name British Dependent Territory introduced by the British Nationality Act 1981. Prior to 1st January 1983, the territories were officially referred to as British Crown Colonies. Our older £1 coins have the text ‘Colony of St Helena’ engraved around the rim.

The head of state in the overseas territories is the British monarch, who appoints a representative in each territory to exercise her executive power, our Governor.

St Helena used to be an important part of the British Empire, as the extract from an 1886 map (right) illustrates. The full map is a stunning example of Victorian cartography and can be downloaded here (8.6Mb).

The one below, from 1910, which helps us to understand the wonderful way in which the British Empire is established throughout the world features St Helena and is also quite pictorial:

‘Flags of a Free Empire’ 1910 Saint Helena Island Info Where is St Helena?
‘Flags of a Free Empire’, 1910

Shipping Lanes

As can seen from the 1886 map above, St Helena used to be an important stop en-route to and from the Cape. Today this is no longer the case. The map below is taken from live-tracking website www.marinetraffic.com, showing all ships in the south Atlantic as at 12:30GMT on 15th February 2017. The red lines (which we added) show the primary ship routes, going to the north and south of St Helena (blue dot).

Shipping map 2017 02 15 12:30 Saint Helena Island Info Where is St Helena?{d}

Read More

More stories on our page Read articles about St Helena.

St Helena is…

Just about everything you read about St Helena begins with some variation of this:

St Helena is situated at a latitude 15° 55’ south and longitude 5° 45’ west in the South Atlantic Ocean. The island is volcanic in origin and almost everywhere rugged and mountainous, rising to a peak of 820m high. The island is approximately 16km long and 10km wide, and is some 1,600km off the West African coast. Its nearest neighbour is the island of Ascension 1,100km away. It is about 7,250km from the UK and 2,700km from Cape Town. Its capital, Jamestown, is on the north leeward shore. Although within the tropics St Helena’s coastal climate is kept mild year-round by the south east trade winds. It is warm, damp and equable.

Closing Humour Saint Helena Island Info Where is St Helena?

Laugh at funny Where is St Helena? humour LOL Saint Helena Island Info

We are aware that this image pre-dates the start of the scheduled commercial air service.
The island’s world view is changing and soon it will be necessary for us to update this.
But not yet…


Credits:

{a} ‘The allure and attractions of St Helena’ - Lonely Planet, 4th September 2015{3}

{b} Google Maps™

{c}Blue Book’, 1929{3}

{d} www.marinetraffic.com (Annotated)



Footnotes:

{1} Acoording to the 2016 Census, the total resident population on 7th February 2016 was 4,534, 4,122 of which were St Helenian and the remainder visitors, temporary workers, etc.

 

Extract from mercator’s 1569 world map Saint Helena Island Info Where is St Helena?

{2} Strictly, St Helena is shown on Mercator’s 1569 map (right), but it is hidden behind a legend box (an indication of our perceived importance!) so we think that doesn’t count.

{3} Reproduced for educational non-commercial use only; all copyrights are acknowledged.



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