Island Information

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…

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…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).

The Island Information 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…

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

Audio Index
All our sound clips • This page indexes all the sound clips that appear throughout Saint Helena Island Info

Frequently Asked Questions about St Helena
And other useful information • Here are the answers to questions we are often asked about St Helena

Picture Gallery
Thumbnails to expand • Enjoy a selection of pictures from St Helena

Historic Picture Gallery
Thumbnails to expand • Enjoy a selection of historic pictures from St Helena

Slide Show
Automated current image show • Enjoy a selection of pictures from St Helena

Slide Show, Historic
Automated historic image show • Enjoy a selection of historic images from St Helena

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

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

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

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

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

Ascension Island
One of our sister islands • Ascension Island is our nearest neighbour, lying some 1,300Km to the northwest of St Helena

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

Bees and Beekeeping
…and don’t forget the honey • Our island’s isolation has protected our bees

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?

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

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 PoWs
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

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…☺

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

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

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 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.

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

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 the 1500s to the 1990s)

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 becomes 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’ St Helena was discovered on 21st May 1502…but actually it wasn’t

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

The former backbone of island 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

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

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

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

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
phormium tenax, 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

Places and structures • Significant places on St Helena, and where to learn more

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

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

The Governor of St Helena
The Crown’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

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 of 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 any old and important structure 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

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…

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 on this week in St Helena’s history

In This Month
This month’s events and anniversaries • Events and anniversaries for this month,

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

All around us • St Helena is a small island…surrounded by even smaller ones

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…

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

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

Could you live here?
What you need to consider • Is living here just a dream, or could it become a reality?

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

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 supplied 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’…

With 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
Time to remember… • 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

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

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

On This Day
Today, in history • Events that happened on this day. in St Helena’s history

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

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

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

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

Problem Animals
A bit of a nuisance • No dangerous animals live here, but some can be a bit of a nuisance

Quick Facts
St Helena In Brief • Simple facts about St Helena with links to more detail

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

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

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

Kings and Queens • Here we set our history into the context of the monarchs reigning in England/Britain

The Run
A long, thin park • Every Capital City needs a river. Jamestown has ‘The Run’

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

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 formerly broadcast continuous music

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

SaintFM Community Radio
News, features and entertainment • SaintFM Community Radio broadcasts music, news and features

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…

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

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!

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.

Slavery on St Helena
St Helena was largely built on slave labour • For over 150 years St Helena kept and exploited slaves

Attacking the Slave Trade
St Helena’s part in ending the International Slave Trade • St Helena played an important part in ending the International Slave Trade

Sounds of St Helena
Hear the island • There are plenty of opportunities on Saint Helena Island Info to see St Helena; here are some to hear it

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. Matthew’s Church
At the junction • St. Matthew’s Church stands at the junction of the routes between Town, Longwood and Levelwood

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

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

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!
Sport/exercise/fun • When it’s hot, there’s nothing like a dip for cooling off

All the world’s a stage • Currently St Helena doesn’t have a working theatre; but we formerly had several…

Everything starts 20 minutes late • Ever wondered why everything on St Helena starts twenty 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

Tristan da Cunha
One of our sister islands • Tristan da Cunha lies some 2,000Km to the south of St Helena

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…

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 naturally we like to talk about the weather…

Get Married Here
A unique venue • 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!

‘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 • These are our ‘top 20’ recommended things for any visitor 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
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
St Helena Plover Charadrius Sanctaehelenae • The Wirebird is St Helena’s only surviving endemic bird

A convenient stopover in the South Atlantic • Since its discovery St Helena has been a convenient stop-over in the South Atlantic

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 about St Helena • Read how St Helena has been reported in the world’s media

Read articles about St Helena (Older)
Older articles about 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). We have some more advice on our About This Site page.

Saint Helena Island Info currently has information pages, so to help you explore and find what you are looking for we’ve 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):


Our activity pages


Our history pages


Our people pages


Our place pages


Our nature pages


Our structures pages


Our pictures pages


All our information pages


The Community pages

The chart below shows the number of pages in each group.

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


The Best of St Helena!

We aim to present the best information about St Helena - most relevant; most accurate; most interesting and most useful. Please contact us with your opinions on how we are doing and suggestions about how we might do better.


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

{a} Tourist Office

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INFORMATION: Information pages index

Island Information | Copyright © John Turner

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