Where is St Helena is easily the question we get asked the most about our home island, followed by what size is St .Helena, and then amazement at the answers. These questions come up wherever we travel or go on holiday.
In roughly the right order, these are the main things people want to know:
- Where is St Helena Island
- What size is St .Helena
- Santa Elena – how to pronounce it
- Cost of living in St Helena Island
- St Helena school system
- St Helena population
- How to get to St Helena
- British Saints – the nationality question
- Economy of St Helena
Where The Saints Come From | Darrin Henry
St Helena people like us, are known as Saints, and, it turns out Sharon and I are as interesting to many of the people we meet around the world, just as they are to us.
Where is St Helena Island is usually the first question, followed by what size is St Helena?
Pronunciation, surprisingly, is next. Most outsiders tend to say it as, Saint-Helen-aaa. Our own pronunciation is more, Saint-ha-leeen-ah.
The Spanish would say – Santa Elena – which I love.
Cost of living in St Helena Island interests people and those with kids always enquire about the St Helena school system.
More recently the airport project has raised the island’s global profile during construction, and then from 2017 when the first scheduled flights began.
View From The Other Side Of The World
St Helena is one of the few South Atlantic islands, and it’s tiny. It would fit into the city of Bangkok 12 times over, which gives you an idea of scale.
So for Sharon and I coming from such a small community, when we headed off to Southeast Asia, the other side of the world, for the very first time, not speaking a word of the language, wandering around Thailand’s capital city represented a major adventure for us both.
Falling In Love With Southeast Asia
You don’t really want to use the ‘L’ word too soon in any relationship, but it was soon clear we had both fallen for that part of the world.
Along the way we met some wonderful people, kind and generous with their hospitality and friendship, which gave us a privileged glimpse into the culture of each place.
Early in any conversation there were always questions for us, they varied a bit, but there were a few we got all the time. Here they are. The first is always:
Where is St Helena Island?
St Helena, or Saint Helena Island, is in the South Atlantic Ocean.
After struggling to draw decent diagrams of the Atlantic region, we eventually figured out that Google Maps would quickly display a St Helena map on our smart phones. Duh!
To explain why this didn’t come to us right away, at that particular time we didn’t use mobile phones on St Helena.
The St Helena postcode is STHL 1ZZ.
Although it’s a tropical island, St Helena weather has plenty of mood swings. As a southern hemisphere island our winter months are June to October which is often wet and very windy.
August is known locally as ‘Scruffy August.’ Generally, people in the know will plan to visit St Helena from December to April, which is typically summer weather months.
What Size Is St Helena Island?
We are very isolated; a tiny 47 square mile outcrop in the South Atlantic Ocean. Not much.
What Is the Population of St Helena Island?
The St Helena population is just over 4,200, and those of us born on the island are known as, ‘Saints.’ (So, What The Saints Did Next then made sense!)
Jamestown is the island’s capital.
How Do I Get To St Helena Island?
Travel to St Helena Island is a topic that always creates plenty of conversation.
Everything you need to know about Flying to St Helena is here.
Up until 2015, the only way to access St Helena was by ship. The island’s Airport was built between 2012 and 2015. After an exclusive history of sea travel, flying has, since 2017, become the new method of how to get to St Helena.
The island’s ship, the RMS St Helena, which had provided the only means of scheduled travel, was retired in 2018.
There is a small selection of St Helena hotels to choose from, and a range of self-catering bed and breakfast options.
What Nationality Are Saints? Are you South African?
No, St Helena is a British Island and islanders hold full British passports.
But there are South Africans living in St Helena as well as other nationalities.
More About St Helena – What Is There To Do?
St Helena is a microcosm of somewhere like a town in the UK; with banking, shops, schools, businesses, a hospital, law and legal, pubs, restaurants etc.
Schools follow the UK curriculum.
St Helena jobs cover the full spectrum of skillsets and there are plenty of adverts every week in the two local newspapers.
As for things to do in St Helena recreationally, 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.
For tourists considering a St Helena holiday it is worth doing some research beforehand. For instance, advance bookings for island tours can save disappointments later as low numbers of customers mean services can be irregular.
To help maximise a visitor’s time in St Helena we have 10 suggestions for things to do in a week.
What Is The St Helena Economy Based On?
Success with different economic ventures has been limited over the years, including fishing.
The New Zealand flax plant which covers the central peaks of the island is a reminder of a once successful industry from the first half of the 20th century. Raw flax fibre was exported to make rope and twine.
More and more people are beginning to learn about the island’s coffee which has gained prestige around the world, however, the industry and exports are of a modest size.
The island has functioned from annual subsidies provided by the British government.
Most goods and materials are imported which drives up costs.
It was hoped the airport, which opened in 2017 would establish affordable travel to the island and thus provide the basis for building a sustainable economy based on tourism. However, initial fares are higher than was expected and the increase in visitor numbers so far has not been as high as hoped.
What Languages Do You Speak On St Helena?
The St Helena language is English.
I’ve never heard of it before, is there any reason I should know about St Helena?
Our most famous resident, albeit not by choice, was the French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, who was exiled here in October 1815. His story began and finished on islands – Napoleon’s birthplace was Corsica but he died on St Helena in May 1821 after six years of exile.
His body was later removed to France, however, his last residence, Longwood House on the island and his now empty tomb are carefully maintained by a resident French Consul and is a very popular tourist attraction.
More Information About St Helena Life?
On this blog we produce an annual e-magazine called, Breeze for our subscribers. The photography themed stories include articles about St Helena. To download Breeze and read right now, Click Here.
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.
This article, ‘Where Is St Helena Island – The Questions We Get Asked The Most,’ has been updated from the original post in 2015.