||Sat 17 Dec 2005
I stayed a week on Saint Helena in July/August 2000.
Link to Photogallery of Saint Helena
Saint Helena is an isolated island in the South Atlantic Ocean. The island’s maximum length is about 13 kilometers. Politically, the island has been a British dependency since the middle of the 17th century. In times past, the island was important as a refreshing station for ships sailing from Asia to Europe. In world history, the island will always be remembered as the place of Napoleon’s final years (1815-1821). As most oceanic islands Saint Helena is of volcanic origin, with steep cliffs and deep valleys running from the interior to the sea. In times past, wild running goats (introduced by the first settlers) have changed the coastal areas from tropical paradises into desert-like landscapes.
Nowadays, the high interior of the island (up to about 700 meters) is green, but primarily because of alien plants.
Although located at 16 degrees southern latitude, Saint Helena’s climate is sub-tropical rather than tropical, because of the “cold” Benguela-Current. The wind blows from the southeast some 70 percent of the time.
People and economy
At present the island has about 5,000 English-speaking inhabitants; this number does not include the more than 1,000 “Saints” working overseas, mainly on Ascension Island and the Falkland Islands. The economy is not particularly healthy; the island’s soil is not good for agriculture, the surrounding fishing grounds are not rich, and tourist development is impossible because of the lack of an airport. At present, an airport is under construction and it should be ready about 2013.
Travel and tourism
The official tourist website is www.sthelenatourism.com. The few tourists coming down to Saint Helena can enjoy themselves with mountain walking, diving, boat trips, game fishing, and visiting the beautiful town of Jamestown, as well as some other interesting monuments - including the two houses and the grave of Napoleon, kept in perfect condition by the French consul. Saint Helena has many interesting birds, such as tropical seabirds and the endemic "wirebird".
“Normal” access to the island is only possible by travelling on the Royal Mail Ship Saint Helena, website http://www.rms-st-helena.com/. The island’s most frequent connections are with Ascension (about twenty sailings in each direction per year, sailing time two days). The only other possibility is travelling via Capetown (about nine sailings in each direction per year, sailing time five days).