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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. It served as a... See More



 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 2,300 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


 Total: 308 sq km
Land: Saint Helena Island 122 sq km; Ascension Island 88 sq km; Tristan da Cunha island group 98 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 (Rank: )

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 2,060 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)

Natural Hazards:

 Active volcanism on Tristan da Cunha

Volcanism: the island volcanoes of Tristan da Cunha (elev. 2,060 m) and Nightingale Island (elev. 365 m) experience volcanic activity; Tristan da Cunha erupted in 1962 and Nightingale in 2004

Geography - Note:

 Saint Helena harbors at least 40 species of plants unknown elsewhere 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

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 Noun: Saint Helenian(s)
Adjective: Saint Helenian

Note: referred to locally as "Saints"

Ethnic Groups:

 African descent 50%, white 25%, Chinese 25%




 Protestant (Anglican (majority), Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventist), Roman Catholic


 7,700 (July 2011 est.)

Note: only Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha islands are inhabited

Age Structure:

 0-14 years: 17.8% (male 697/female 671)
15-64 years: 70% (male 2,731/female 2,656)
65 years and over: 12.3% (male 468/female 477) (2011 est.)

Median Age:

 Total: 38.8 years
Male: 38.8 years
Female: 38.7 years (2011 est.)

Population Growth Rate:

 0.377% (2011 est.)

Birth Rate:

 10.65 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)

Death Rate:

 6.88 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)

Net Migration Rate:

 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)


 Urban population: 40% of total population (2010)
Rate of urbanization: -0.3% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)

Major Cities - Population:

 JAMESTOWN (capital) 1,000 (2009)

Sex Ratio:

 At birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
Under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.94 male(s)/female
Total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2011 est.)

Infant Mortality Rate:

 Total: 16.38 deaths/1,000 live births
Male: 19.28 deaths/1,000 live births
Female: 13.34 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life Expectancy At Birth:

 Total population: 78.76 years
Male: 75.83 years
Female: 81.83 years (2011 est.)

Total Fertility Rate:

 1.57 children born/woman (2011 est.)


 Definition: age 20 and over can read and write
Total population: 97%
Male: 97%
Female: 98% (1987 est.)

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Country Name:

 Conventional long form: Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha
Conventional short form: none


 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:

 3 administrative areas; Ascension, Saint Helena, Tristan da Cunha

Dependency Status:

 Overseas territory of the UK


 None (overseas territory of the UK)

National Holiday:

 Birthday of Queen ELIZABETH II, second Saturday in June (1926)


 The Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Constitution Order 2009, effective 1 September 2009

Legal System:

 English common law and local statutes

Executive Branch:

 Chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952)

Head of government: Governor Mark CAPES (since 29 October 2011)

Cabinet: Executive Council consists of the governor, 3 ex-officio officers, and 5 elected members of the Legislative Council

Elections: none; the monarchy is hereditary; governor appointed by the monarch

Legislative Branch:

 Unicameral Legislative Council (17 seats, including a speaker and deputy speaker, 12 elected, and three ex officio members; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)

Note: the Constitution Order provides for separate Island Councils for both Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

Elections: last held on 4 November 2009 (next to be held in 2013)

Election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - independents 12

Judicial Branch:

 Supreme Court; Court of Appeal

Political Pressure Groups and Leaders:

 Other: private sector; unions

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 upper third of the shield depicts a white plover (wire bird) on a yellow field; the remainder of the shield depicts a rocky coastline on the left, offshore is a three-masted sailing ship with sails furled but flying an English flag

National Symbols:

 Saint Helena plover (bird)

National Anthem:

 Note: as a territory of the United Kingdom, "God Save the Queen" is official (see United Kingdom)


 (overseas territory of the UK)

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Economy - Overview:

 The economy depends largely on financial assistance from the UK, which amounted to about $27 million in FY06/07 or more than twice the level 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 - 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 / Consumption By Share:

 Lowest 10%: NA%
Highest 10%: NA%


 Revenues: $10.23 million
Expenditures: $25.14 million

Note: revenue data reflect locally raised revenues only; the budget deficit is resolved by grant aid from the United Kingdom (FY06/07 est.)

Inflation Rate (Consumer Prices):

 3.2% (1997 est.)

Agriculture - Products:

 Coffee, corn, potatoes, vegetables; timber; fish, lobster; livestock


 Construction, crafts (furniture, lacework, fancy woodwork), fishing, philatelic sales

Industrial Production Growth Rate:


Electricity - Production:

 8 million kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Production By Source:

 Fossil fuel: 100%
Hydro: 0%
Nuclear: 0%
Other: 0% (2001)

Electricity - Consumption:

 7.44 million kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - Exports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Electricity - Imports:

 0 kWh (2009 est.)

Oil - Production:

 0 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Consumption:

 100 bbl/day (2010 est.)

Oil - Exports:

 0 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Imports:

 85 bbl/day (2009 est.)

Oil - Proven Reserves:

 0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)

Natural Gas - Production:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Consumption:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Exports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Imports:

 0 cu m (2009 est.)

Natural Gas - Proven Reserves:

 0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)


 $19 million (2004 est.)

Exports - Commodities:

 Fish (frozen, canned, and salt-dried skipjack, tuna), coffee, handicrafts


 $45 million (2004 est.)

Imports - Commodities:

 Food, beverages, tobacco, fuel oils, animal feed, building materials, motor vehicles and parts, machinery and parts

Exchange Rates:

 Convert St Helena Pound to Any Currency

Saint Helenian pounds (SHP) per US dollar -
0.6388 (2010)
0.6175 (2009)
0.4993 (2007)
0.5418 (2006)

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Telephones - Main Lines In Use:

 3,000 (2010)

Telephone System:

 General assessment: can communicate worldwide

Domestic: automatic digital network

International: country code (Saint Helena) - 290, (Ascension Island) - 247; international direct dialing; satellite voice and data communications; satellite earth stations - 5 (Ascension Island - 4, Saint Helena - 1)

Broadcast Media:

 St. Helena has no local TV station; 2 local radio stations, one of which is relayed to Ascension Island; satellite TV stations rebroadcast terrestrially; Ascension Island has no local TV station, but has 1 local radio station and receives relays of broadcasts from 1 St. Helena radio station; broadcasts from the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) are available, as well as TV services for the US military; Tristan da Cunha has 1 local radio station and receives BFBS TV and radio broadcasts (2007)

Radio Broadcast Stations:

 Saint Helena: AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 0
Ascension: AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 1 (2005)

Television Broadcast Stations:

 0 (3 television channels are received via satellite and distributed by UHF) (2005)

Internet Country Code:

 .sh; note - Ascension Island assigned .ac

Internet Hosts:

 6,873 (2010)

Internet Users:

 900 (2009)

Communications - Note:

 South Africa maintains a meteorological station on Gough Island

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 1 (2010)

Airports - With Paved Runways:

 Total: 1
Over 3,047 m: 1 (2010)


 Total: 198 km (Saint Helena 138 km, Ascension 40 km, Tristan da Cunha 20 km)
Paved: 168 km (Saint Helena 118 km, 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 (Edinburgh)

Transportation - Note:

 There is no air connection to Saint Helena or Tristan da Cunha; following a pause in 2009, an international airport for Saint Helena continues in development with a goal of beginning construction in late 2011 or 2012

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Manpower Fit For Military Service:

 Males age 16-49: 1,565
Females age 16-49: 1,579 (2010 est.)

Manpower Reaching Militarily Significant Age Annually:

 Male: 49
Female: 48 (2010 est.)

Military - Note:

 Defense is the responsibility of the UK

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Last Updated: December 2011

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