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Flag of Saint Helena

Map of Saint Helena
Introduction Saint Helena
Saint Helena is a British Overseas Territory consisting of Saint Helena and Ascension Islands, and the island group of Tristan da Cunha.
Saint Helena: Uninhabited when first discovered by the Portuguese in 1502, Saint Helena was garrisoned by the British during the 17th century. It acquired fame as the place of Napoleon BONAPARTE's exile, from 1815 until his death in 1821, but its importance as a port of call declined after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. During the Anglo-Boer War in South Africa, several thousand Boer prisoners were confined on the island between 1900 and 1903.
Ascension Island: This barren and uninhabited island was discovered and named by the Portuguese in 1503. The British garrisoned the island in 1815 to prevent a rescue of Napoleon from Saint Helena and it served as a provisioning station for the Royal Navy's West Africa Squadron on anti-slavery patrol. The island remained under Admiralty control until 1922, when it became a dependency of Saint Helena. During World War II, the UK permitted the US to construct an airfield on Ascension in support of trans-Atlantic flights to Africa and anti-submarine operations in the South Atlantic. In the 1960s the island became an important space tracking station for the US. In 1982, Ascension was an essential staging area for British forces during the Falklands War, and it remains a critical refueling point in the air-bridge from the UK to the South Atlantic.
Tristan da Cunha: The island group consists of the islands of Tristan da Cunha, Nightingale, Inaccessible, and Gough. Tristan da Cunha is named after its Portuguese discoverer (1506); it was garrisoned by the British in 1816 to prevent any attempt to rescue Napoleon from Saint Helena. Gough and Inaccessible Islands have been designated World Heritage Sites. South Africa leases the site for a meteorological station on Gough Island.
Geography Saint Helena
islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, about midway between South America and Africa; Ascension Island lies 700 nm northwest of Saint Helena; Tristan da Cunha lies 2300 nm southwest of Saint Helena
Geographic coordinates:
Saint Helena: 15 57 S 5 42 W
Ascension Island: 7 57 S 14 22 W
Tristan da Cunha island group: 37 15 S 12 30 W
Map references:
total: 413 sq km
land: Saint Helena Island 122 sq km; Ascension Island 90 sq km; Tristan da Cunha island group 201 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly more than twice the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries:
0 km
Saint Helena: 60 km
Ascension Island: NA
Tristan da Cunha: 40 km
Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
Saint Helena: tropical marine; mild, tempered by trade winds
Ascension Island: tropical marine; mild, semi-arid
Tristan da Cunha: temperate marine; mild, tempered by trade winds (tends to be cooler than Saint Helena)
the islands of this group result from volcanic activity associated with the Atlantic Mid-Ocean Ridge
Saint Helena: rugged, volcanic; small scattered plateaus and plains
Ascension: surface covered by lava flows and cinder cones of 44 dormant volcanoes; ground rises to the east
Tristan da Cunha: sheer cliffs line the coastline of the nearly circular island; the flanks of the central volcanic peak are deeply dissected; narrow coastal plain lies between The Peak and the coastal cliffs
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Queen Mary's Peak on Tristan da Cunha 2,062 m; Green Mountain on Ascension Island 859 m; Mount Actaeon on Saint Helena Island 818 m
Natural resources:
fish, lobster
Land use:
arable land: 12.9%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 87.1% (2005)
Irrigated land:
Natural hazards:
active volcanism on Tristan da Cunha, last eruption in 1961
Environment - current issues:
Geography - note:
Saint Helena harbors at least 40 species of plants unknown anywhere else in the world; Ascension is a breeding ground for sea turtles and sooty terns; Queen Mary's Peak on Tristan da Cunha is the highest island mountain in the South Atlantic and a prominent landmark on the sea lanes around southern Africa
People Saint Helena
note: only Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha islands are inhabited (July 2006 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 18.8% (male 717/female 692)
15-64 years: 71.2% (male 2,751/female 2,593)
65 years and over: 10% (male 342/female 407) (2006 est.)
Median age:
total: 36 years
male: 36.2 years
female: 35.8 years (2006 est.)
Population growth rate:
0.56% (2006 est.)
Birth rate:
12.13 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Death rate:
6.53 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.84 male(s)/female
total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2006 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
total: 18.34 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 21.96 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 14.53 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.93 years
male: 75.02 years
female: 80.98 years (2006 est.)
Total fertility rate:
1.55 children born/woman (2006 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
noun: Saint Helenian(s)
adjective: Saint Helenian
note: referred to locally as "Saints"
Ethnic groups:
African descent 50%, white 25%, Chinese 25%
Anglican (majority), Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventist, Roman Catholic
definition: age 20 and over can read and write
total population: 97%
male: 97%
female: 98% (1987 est.)
Government Saint Helena
Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Saint Helena
Dependency status:
overseas territory of the UK
Government type:
name: Jamestown
geographic coordinates: 15 56 S, 5 44 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions:
1 administrative area and 2 dependencies*; Ascension*, Saint Helena, Tristan da Cunha*
none (overseas territory of the UK)
National holiday:
Birthday of Queen ELIZABETH II, second Saturday in June (1926)
1 January 1989
Legal system:
British common law and statutes, supplemented by local statutes
NA years of age
Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952)
head of government: Governor and Commander in Chief Michael CLANCY (since 15 October 2004)
cabinet: Executive Council consists of the governor, three ex-officio officers, and five elected members of the Legislative Council
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; governor is appointed by the monarch
Legislative branch:
unicameral Legislative Council (16 seats, including the speaker, 3 ex officio and 12 elected members; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 31 August 2005 (next to be held NA 2009)
election results: percent of vote - NA%; seats - independents 12
Judicial branch:
Magistrate's Court; Supreme Court; Court of Appeal
Political parties and leaders:
Political pressure groups and leaders:
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
none (overseas territory of the UK)
Diplomatic representation from the US:
none (overseas territory of the UK)
Flag description:
blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the Saint Helenian shield centered on the outer half of the flag; the shield features a rocky coastline and three-masted sailing ship
Economy Saint Helena
Economy - overview:
The economy depends largely on financial assistance from the UK, which amounted to about $5 million in 1997 or almost one-half of annual budgetary revenues. The local population earns income from fishing, raising livestock, and sales of handicrafts. Because there are few jobs, 25% of the work force has left to seek employment on Ascension Island, on the Falklands, and in the UK.
GDP (purchasing power parity):
$18 million (1998 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate):
GDP - real growth rate:
GDP - per capita (PPP):
$2,500 (1998 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
Labor force:
note: 1,200 work offshore (1998 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 6%
industry: 48%
services: 46% (1987 est.)
Unemployment rate:
14% (1998 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
3.2% (1997 est.)
revenues: $11.2 million
expenditures: $11 million; including capital expenditures of $NA (FY92/93)
Agriculture - products:
coffee, corn, potatoes, vegetables; timber; fish, lobster (on Tristan da Cunha)
construction, crafts (furniture, lacework, fancy woodwork), fishing, philatelic sales
Industrial production growth rate:
Electricity - production:
5 million kWh (2003)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
hydro: 0%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
4.65 million kWh (2003)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2003)
Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2003)
Oil - production:
0 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - consumption:
100 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - exports:
NA bbl/day
Oil - imports:
NA bbl/day
Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2003 est.)
$19 million f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Exports - commodities:
fish (frozen, canned, and salt-dried skipjack, tuna), coffee, handicrafts
Exports - partners:
Tanzania 37.6%, US 17.3%, Japan 15.1%, UK 8.4%, Nigeria 4.8%, Spain 4.4% (2005)
$45 million c.i.f. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:
food, beverages, tobacco, fuel oils, animal feed, building materials, motor vehicles and parts, machinery and parts
Imports - partners:
UK 54.2%, South Africa 14.5%, Spain 10.5%, Tanzania 8.6%, US 4.7% (2005)
Debt - external:
Economic aid - recipient:
$12.6 million (1995); note - $5.3 million from UK (1997)
Currency (code):
Saint Helenian pound (SHP)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Saint Helenian pounds per US dollar - 0.55 (2005), 0.5462 (2004), 0.6125 (2003), 0.6672 (2002), 0.6947 (2001)
note: the Saint Helenian pound is on par with the British pound
Fiscal year:
1 April - 31 March
Communications Saint Helena
Telephones - main lines in use:
2,200 (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Telephone system:
general assessment: can communicate worldwide
domestic: automatic digital network
international: country code - 290; international direct dialing; satellite voice and data communications; satellite earth stations - 5 (Ascension Island - 4, Saint Helena - 1)
Radio broadcast stations:
Saint Helena: AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 0
Ascension: AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 1 (2005)
3,000 (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
note: three television channels are received in Saint Helena via satellite and distributed by UHF (2005)
2,000 (1997)
Internet country code:
.sh; note - the IANA has assigned .ac as the ccTLD for Ascension Island
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2000)
Internet users:
1,000 note - includes Ascension Island (2003)
Communications - note:
South Africa maintains a meteorological station on Gough Island
Transportation Saint Helena
note: Wideawake Field on Ascension Island (2006)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2006)
total: 198 km (Saint Helena 138 km, Ascension 40 km, Tristan da Cunha 20 km)
paved: 168 km (Saint Helena 118km, Ascension 40 km, Tristan da Cunha 10 km)
unpaved: 30 km (Saint Helena 20 km, Ascension 0 km, Tristan da Cunha 10 km) (2002)
Ports and terminals:
Saint Helena: Jamestown
Ascension Island: Georgetown
Tristan da Cunha: Calshot Harbor
Transportation - note:
there is no air connection to Saint Helena or Tristan da Cunha; an international airport for Saint Helena is in development for 2010
Military Saint Helena
Military - note:
defense is the responsibility of the UK
Transnational Issues Saint Helena
Disputes - international:

This page was last updated on 19 September, 2006