The One Question We Get Asked The Most About St Helena
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- Five day journey to Cape Town, South Africa.
What Nationality Are Saints? Are you South African?
No, St Helena is a British Island and islanders hold full British passports.
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.
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.
What Languages Do You Speak On St Helena?
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.
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.
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.