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The Island of Saint Helena

Indigenous cuisine focuses very much on the fresh and locally available. Perishable imports are few so most food is reared or grown on the island, supplemented by fish caught in the island's rich fishing grounds.


The island was uninhabited when discovered by the Portuguese in 1502 and became for centuries an important stopover for ships sailing from Europe to Asia and South Africa. The British also used the island as a place of exile, most notably for Napoleon I, King of the Zulus Dinuzulu kaCetshwayo and for more than 5,000 Boer prisoners. Saint Helena is Britain's second oldest remaining colony, after Bermuda.


Believed to be named after Saint Helena of Constantinople, St Helena is an island of volcanic origin in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. Saint Helena measures approximately 16 by 8 kilometers (10 by 5 mi) and has a population of 4,255 (2008 census). Local currency is the St Helena Pound, of equal value to the British Pound. The island is located near to the Greenwich Meridian and keeps UK time.


One of the most isolated islands in the world, St Helena is justifiably famed for its unique flora and fauna and its unspoilt countryside; indeed its national symbol is the St Helena Plover, locally known as the Wirebird. The rugged terrain is exceptional for hiking or mountain biking, and several peaks afford outstanding views. The highest, Diana's Peak, reaches 2600' (815m). There is also an abundance of fishing as well as snorkeling and excellent diving, including wreck dives to the many ships that are scattered about the surrounding seabed. The climate is tropical marine, with average temperatures in the capital, Jamestown, typically ranging between 17C-24C in winter and 21C-28C in summer. Rainfall is low, particularly on the coast.


You can find out more information about St Helena and its many attractions on the St Helena Tourism website.


Another wonderful film "Island of St Helena 1962", courtesy of Mr Charles Frater, film maker and member of Friends of St.Helena.


Charles Frater, Bob Johnston and Esdon Frost went to Saint Helena to make a film in 1962 when they heard that the regular Union Castle sailings were going to be curtailed. There was, at the time, no formal film and the result was a snapshot of the island in January 1962 when the Friendly Benefit Societies still functioned and had their annual marches, the flax industry was still going and the people fiercely loyal.


The main sources of income was work in the flax mills, government subsidy and the savings sent to families by their relatives who had emigrated. Life was hard, but there was a vivid and lively spirit amongst the islanders who bore their hardships with humour and great strength. The film shows a tremendous amount about life in the island at that time.

We are delighted to be able to share the "St.Helena South Atlantic Ocean" travelogue film with our friends and future customers. Mr Charles Frater, film maker and member of Friends of St.Helena, has agreed to give us access to the film for use on our website such that it can be enjoyed by people planning their first visit to the island or those wishing to be reminded what an amazing place St.Helena truly is. 


Charles is keen to emphasise that the film was made in 1991 - clearly some things have changed in that time but the beauty of the scenery most certainly has not! 


We are very grateful to Charles who hopes the extra publicity will help attract people to the island which he says, has not changed that much in the last 25 years.

St Helena 1991 Video

Napoleon's Exile


In 1815, the British government selected Saint Helena as the place of detention of Napoleon Bonaparte after the battle of Waterloo. He was brought to the island in October 1815 and stayed at the small Briars pavilion in the grounds of the Balcombe family home until the completion of his permanent residence of Longwood House, where he died on 5 May 1821. Longwood House is French property and is maintained as a museum devoted to the Emperor's life, administered by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A delightful short film 'St Helena - Going Home' showing RMS St Helena traveling to the island of St Helena by Rob Newman.

RMS St Helena - going home
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