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The One Question We Get Asked The Most About St Helena

With Ngọc Lê Bích and her brothers and sisters who we met in Vietnam.

With Ngọc Lê Bích and her brothers and sisters who we met in Vietnam.

WE ARE THE SAINTS | Darrin Henry

The island where we are from is tiny; it would fit into the city of Bangkok twelve times over, which gives you an idea of scale. So coming from such a small place and deciding to head off to the other side of the world for the very first time, not speaking a word of the language and an itinerary that extends only to reaching our first hotel, this has been a major adventure for Sharon and I.

No matter how much we researched, how many reviews we read, nothing quite prepared us for what would happen trying to travel and photograph South East Asia.

You don’t really want to use the ‘L’ word too soon in any relationship, but it’s clear already, we have both fallen for this part of the world.

What The Saints Did Next visiting Doi Inthanon, the highest mountain in Thailand.

Our friend Fuel Floate (and his dad Alan) took us to visit the highest point in Thailand.

We have met some wonderful people, kind and generous with their hospitality and friendship, which has given us a glimpse into the culture of each place.

Early in any conversation there are always questions for us, they vary a bit, but the first is always:

Where is St Helena Island?

After struggling to draw very poor maps of the Atlantic region, we eventually figured out that Google Maps on our smart phone would do a much better job displaying this St Helena information.

St Helena information – Map of St Helena, a tiny island, just 48 square miles in size, in the South Atlantic Ocean.

St Helena is a tiny island, just 48 square miles in size, in the South Atlantic Ocean.

Now that our Facebook Page and our blog is building a following from Thailand and Cambodia, and it is growing also from Vietnam, it seems appropriate to publish this short post about St Helena. I will list the information in the normal order that the questions get asked.

What Size Is St Helena Island?

As the map shows, St Helena is very isolated; a tiny 48 square mile island in the South Atlantic Ocean.

St Helena information - A photo of the entire island, as seen from out to sea on board the RMS St Helena.

The whole island, as seen from the ship leaving for Cape Town.

What Is the Population of St Helena Island?

The population of St Helena is just over 4,200, and for those of us born on the island we are referred to as, ‘Saints.’ Now you see how we chose our blog name.

Jamestown is the capital of St Helena Island.

Jamestown, is the capital of St Helena, wedged between the steep valley walls.

How Do I Travel To St Helena Island?

This little bit of St Helena information always creates plenty of conversation. At the moment (May 2015) St Helena Airport is under construction so air travel from St Helena is not possible, although this fact changes next year. For now we have two options of travel, both by ship.

  1. Two day journey to the smaller island of Ascension, 700 miles away, from there we can catch a nine hour flight on a Royal Air Force plane to Brize Norton in the UK.
  2. Five day journey to Cape Town, South Africa.
Building the St Helena Airport on Prosperous Bay Plain. It should open in February 2016.

The St Helena Airport is being constructed on Prosperous Bay Plain. It should open in February 2016.

What Nationality Are Saints? Are you South African?

No, St Helena is a British Island and islanders hold full British passports.

St Paul's Primary School pupils and students singing at an island event.

St Paul’s Primary School pupils and students singing at an island event.

What Is There To Do on St Helena Island?

It’s a microcosm of somewhere like a town in the UK; with banking, shops, schools, businesses, a hospital, law and legal, pubs, restaurants etc. There are community driven events such as organised sports, charities, and entertainment. The infrastructure is quite modern although there are problems mainly linked to the island’s isolation.

Sharon and Darrin Henry on top of 'The Barn,' one of the more difficult hikes on St Helena.

Sharon and I on top of ‘The Barn,’ one of the more difficult hikes on St Helena.

What Is The St Helena Economy Based On?

Until now St Helena has had limited success with different economic ventures, including fishing and growing flax. The island has functioned from annual subsidies provided by the British government. St Helena hopes the airport which opens next year will provide the basis for building a sustainable economy based on tourism over the coming years.

The 'John Mellis' fishing boat unloading its catch at the wharf.

The ‘John Mellis’ fishing boat unloading its catch at the wharf.

What Languages Do You Speak On St Helena?

Only English.

'White Gate' in the greener centre of the island.

‘White Gate’ in the greener centre of the island.

I’ve never heard of St Helena before, is there any reason I should know about it?

Our most famous resident, albeit not by choice, was the French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, who was exiled there in October 1815 and died six years later in May 1821. His body was later removed to France, however, his now empty tomb and house at Longwood are carefully maintained by a resident French Consul and is a very popular tourist attraction.

Visiting French Navy sailors hold a special remembrance service at Napoleon's Tomb in 2014.

Visiting French Navy sailors hold a special remembrance service at Napoleon’s Tomb in April 2014.

More St Helena Information?

What The Saints Did Next produce an annual e-magazine called Breeze, all about St Helena which is available for FREE as a PDF download by signing up to our blog by email.

Breeze e-magazine is 66 pages of interviews, articles and photographs of St Helena Island.

Breeze e-magazine is 66 pages of interviews, articles and photographs of St Helena Island.

To view some great pictures from St Helena check out our previous blog posts, here.

We also post pictures and updates daily on our What The Saints Did Next, Facebook Page.

 

Jamestown, St Helena.

Jamestown, St Helena.

COMMENTS

  • shakeel

    April 19, 2016

    hi I am a cell phone tech by profession and am residing in cape town from the last 14 years. can I open a cell phone business in st .Helena. and if yes, then how to go about paper work.

    • April 20, 2016

      Hey Shakeel, thanks for your comment. We’re not the ones to ask about this though. Maybe contact Sure South Atlantic who currently provide communications on island, including mobile service http://www.sure.co.sh/
      Alternatively you could also contact St Helena Government who may be able to help http://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/
      Good luck 🙂

  • Anna Courts

    September 15, 2015

    The “Saints” are the most special kind generous fun loving people I’ve met. I am very privilege to count some of them as my dear friends. Love you all. Annie xxx

    • September 15, 2015

      Thanks for your lovely comment Anna. Cheers 🙂

  • Susan

    June 8, 2015

    Great promotion Darrin and Sharon – true ambassadors for Saint Helena! I love how you answered the questions 🙂

    • September 15, 2015

      Thanks Susan. Always a privilege for us promoting our beautiful island.

  • Billy Leisegang

    May 11, 2015

    excellent promo for this beautiful island

  • Morag

    May 9, 2015

    Can’t wait. Going in October to your beautiful island.

    • May 31, 2015

      Not long now then Morag! Have a great time, we may see you about to say “hi” 🙂

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