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Country Facts

Status: British Overseas Territory
Area: 122 sq km
Population: 4,000
Capital city: Jamestown
Languages: English
Religion: Mainly Christian, some Bahai.
Currency: St Helena Pound on par with UK Pound
Governor: Andrew Gurr


There is no airport on St Helena. At present, regular access to St Helena is provided by the Royal Mail Ship (RMS) St Helena, a cargo and passenger vessel, operated by Andrew Weir Shipping, that offers a scheduled service between St Helena, Ascension and Cape Town.

Enquiries about travel on the RMS should be made to Andrew Weir Shipping:

Tel 0207 816 4803
Fax 0207 816 4802
Andrew Weir Shipping: RMS (
Travel Advice: St Helena (#)

Country Facts-Tristan da Cunha

Status: Part of the British Overseas Territory of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
Area: 98 sq km
Population: 261
Capital City: Edinburgh Of The Seven Seas
Languages: English
Religion: Christian
Currency: Pound Sterling
Governor: Mr Mark Capes (resides in St Helena)
Administrator: Sean Burns


Travel Advice: Tristan da Cunha (

Travel to Tristan da Cunha is an adventure in itself. Access is by sea only - there is no airport. Fishing vessels, currently operated by Ovenstone Agencies in Cape Town, carry passengers, cargo and mail to and from the Island 9 times a year. The South African Antarctic Research Vessel, SA Agulhas visits in September each year. Except for the Agulhas, which carries helicopters, all passengers have to be landed by small boats and weather conditions can sometimes make this difficult.

Visits to the Gough Island World Heritage Site and other islands in the group require the express permission of the Administrator.

You will need the prior permission of the Island Council to travel to Tristan. You should apply to the Administrator’s Office for this permission, which is normally granted. You must have comprehensive travel and medical insurance that covers the cost of medical treatment and evacuation to Cape Town as well as sufficient funds to cover the return passage and other costs of your visit. A small landing fee is payable on arrival at the Island. Once Island Council permission has been granted, the Administrator’s Office will assist in making travel bookings on the Ovenstone vessels or SA Agulhas. Further details can be found at: (

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Basic Economic Facts

GDP (at current prices): US$ 10.1 million (2000/2001)
GDP per capita: US$ 2,291 (2000/2001)
Unemployment: 12.7% (2001/2002)
The territory has few natural resources. Agriculture and tourism are the main economic activities. A fish freezing facility has been set up on St Helena. About 1,700 St Helenians work offshore, mainly in Ascension, the Falklands and the UK.

Tristan da Cunha

The island is mostly self-sufficient, with an average income per capita of about $3,000 (although those who fish can earn more). There is little unemployment - people work for either government or the fishing factory. The economy is based on lobster fishing carried out by 2 ocean-going vessels owned by a South African company, Ovenstone Agencies, and by small powerboats run by Tristanians. Ovenstone holds the exclusive concession to fish for crayfish around the other islands in the Tristan group. The company has a shore based processing plant on Tristan, which is supplied by small powerboats which catch crayfish in the waters around the Island. Octopus is a useful by-catch.

Ad hoc licenses are issued from time to time for longline fishing. The maintenance of a long-term sustainable fishing resource is of primary importance.

Other sources of island income include a small scale tourist industry, based on three or four tourist ships per annum, and the sale of local handicrafts and commemorative stamps and coins.

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St Helena was discovered on St Helena day (21 May) 1502 by the Portuguese navigator Joan da Nova. In 1658 Richard, Lord Protector, authorised the British East India Company to colonise and fortify the island. Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled to St Helena in 1815 and remained there until his death in 1821. St Helena became a Crown Colony in 1834. The Zulu Chief, Dinizulu, was exiled to the island in 1890 and up to 6000 Boer prisoners were held there between 1900 and 1903.

Visitors have included Edmund Halley (1677), William Dampier (1691) Captain Cook (1775) and Charles Darwin (1836).

Tristan da Cunha was discovered in 1506 by the Portuguese navigator Tristao da Cunha who did not land but names the island after himself. Britain garrisoned it in 1816 to prevent it being used as a base to rescue Napoleon from St Helena.

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Relations with the International Community

HMG is responsible for St Helena’s external relations and defence.

Relations with the UK

The principal points of contact are Overseas Territories Department, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Governor’s Office, Jamestown, St Helena.

UK Representative for St Helena

Mrs Kedell Worboys MBE
St Helena Government UK Representative
16 Old Queen Street,
London, SW1H 9HP

Telephone: 0203 170 8705 or 0203 170 8706
Fax: 0203 159 5151
Mobile: 07989404 654
Email: (

South Africa - Commercial Representative for St Helena

Mr Adam Kossowski
PO Box 2115
Cape Town
South Africa
Tel: + 27 (0) 741 170 250
email: (

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This remote island in the South Atlantic is about 1,200 miles from the South West coast of Africa. It is of volcanic origin and was uninhabited when it was discovered by the Portuguese in the early 16th century. The island has distinctive flora and fauna with many rare or endangered species.

Tristan da Cunha is the most remote inhabited island in the world lying 2,778 kilometres west of Cape Town in the South Atlantic. The island is of volcanic origin, is almost circular in shape and has an area of 98 sq. km. The Settlement of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas in the Northwest is the only inhabited area. Tristan da Cunha and the neighbouring islands of Nightingale, Inaccessible and Gough comprise the Tristan da Cunha group.

The islands have very distinctive endemic flora and fauna and are important breeding grounds for many seabirds. Gough and Inaccessible Islands have UNESCO World Heritage Site designation.

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Constitutional Status

The St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Constitution Order 2009 came into operation in 2009. It includes a Bill of Rights and a separate chapter for each island.

The Governor exercises executive authority. The Governor is advised by an Executive Council and an elected Legislative Council. The Executive Council consists of the Governor, 3 ex officio officers, and 5 elected members of the Legislative Council. There is a Unicameral Legislative assembly (15 seats, including the speaker, 3 ex officio and 12 elected members; members are elected by popular vote to serve 4-year terms).


Governors Office

Governor: His Excellency Mark Capes
Governor's Office
The Castle, Jamestown
St Helena Island
South Atlantic Ocean
Tel: 00 290 2555
Fax:00 290 2598

Executive Council

The current membership of the Executive Council is as follows:

Honourable Chief Secretary: Mr Owen O'Sujllivan
Honourable Financial Secretary: Mr Paul Blessington
Honourable Attorney General: Mr Kenneth Baddon
Honourable Rodney Buckley MLC
Honourable Cyril Gunnell MLC
Honourable Mervyn Yon MLC
Honourable Tara Thomas MLC
Honourable Tony Green MLC

Tristan da Cunha-Constitutional Status

The St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Constitution Order 2009 came into force in September 2009, replacing the 1988 Constitution which no longer reflected the reality of life on the islands. The new Constitution includes a Bill of Rights and a separate chapter for each island, it also establishes true independence for the judiciary and the public service.

An Administrator, who is advised by an Island Council, represents the Governor. The Council consists of eight elected and three nominated members. At least 1 member of the Council must be a woman. The member with the most votes becomes Chief Islander.

Elections are held every three years. The last elections took place in April 2010.


The Administrator
The Administrator's Office
Edinburgh of the Seven Seas
Tristan da Cunha
South Atlantic Ocean

Tel: + 44 (0)203 014 2000
Fax: + 44 (0) 203 014 2020
E-mail: (

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Last Updated: November 2011

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