|Facts about Saint Helena|
|Saint Helena||Territory of United Kingdom|
|Coordinates||15° 57′ 0″ S, 5° 43′ 0″ W|
|Location||South Atlantic Ocean.|
|Area||121 km2 47 sq mi|
|Population||4255 ( 2008 )|
|Currency||Saint Helena pound|
|Government||British overseas territory|
|Time zone||GMT (UTC+0)|
St. Helena Map
It is easy to miss St. Helena in the globe. A tiny island in the South Atlantic Ocean, it is best known for being Emperor Napoleon’s last place he ever stayed and breathed on earth.
About St. Helena
Located about 1,200 miles on the north west of Cape Town, St. Helena Island is one of the oldest British Overseas territories, second only to Bermuda. It is part of an island group that includes the Tristan da Cunha Island and the Ascension Island. Located over 4,500 miles away from its parent country, St. Helena is quite British in their lifestyle. Its population is mixed though. Residents of the island are descendants of British soldiers, government employees, and sailors, Chinese workers, and African, and Asian slaves.
According to historical records, the island of St. Helena was uninhabited when the Portuguese discovered it in 1502. It was named after the mother of Constantine the Great. In its earlier days, it was a port for ships going to and returning from India. The island provided relaxation and refreshment to the tired sailors. This ended after the Suez Canal route was discovered. St. Helena, for a major part of history has been used for exiling war prisoners (Napoleon being the most famous one). In addition to sailors and exiled prisoners, St. Helena was visited by a number of famous personalities, like Charles Darwin, Captain Cook, Manuel Johnson, and Sir Arthur Wellesley.
Geography of St. Helena
The island of St. Helena is located on the south-west of Africa in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is roughly halfway between Namibia and Brazil. Spread across just 47 sq miles, the island has volcanic origins. Its landscape features rocky terrain with steep barren cliffs at the coast and deep valleys towards the center of the island. There are a number of seasonal streams and falls on the mountains (Heart-Shaped Waterfall is a notable tourist spot). This dramatic topography makes for great natural views. The higher elevations are preferred hiking routes for adventurers. The highest and most popular point is the Diana’s Peak, over 2,600 feet above sea level. Being home to more than 40 endemic plant species, the 80 hectares of land surrounding Diana’s Peak is a declared national park.
How to Reach St. Helena
At present (2014), St. Helena is only accessible by sea. The Royal Mail Service or RMS St. Helena is a ship dedicated to ferry passengers from Cape Town to the island. It passes by Walvis Bay in Namibia and the Ascension Island. This journey takes about five days.
An airport is under construction in the Prosperous Bay in St. Helena and is slated to open in 2016.
Weather of St. Helena
Weather in St. Helena remains comparatively mild all through the year even though it lies in the tropical belt. This is because of the influence of the Equatorial Trough, South Atlantic High Pressure Cell (also known as the St. Helena High), and the South East Trade Winds. These together make the climate mild, and the weather rather erratic. So, you can experience a damp morning and a sunny afternoon, in a matter of a few hours. Then again, weather in the coastal areas of St. Helena cannot be compared to that in the interiors. On an average, the central areas of the islands have temperatures lower than that at the coasts. According to the meteorological reports of Jamestown (capital city), the temperature during summer range between 20 to 32 degrees centigrade and during winter between 15 to 26 degrees centigrade.
If one is planning a trip to St. Helena, it is best to avoid the rainy months of April and August.
Points of Interest in St. Helena
A tip for those planning a trip to St. Helena: Do not judge St. Helena by its size. This tiny speck of land has a lot more to offer than it seems. It has a variety of walking and hiking routes, museums, historical sites, endemic wildlife, expansive gardens, and some of the most prized coffee plantations in the world. Jamestown is where tourists begin their sightseeing. There are several bus tours on offer. Major points of interest are in Jamestown, Longwood, and the central part of the island. Here’s a brief overview of the popular attractions in St. Helena:
Jacob’s Ladder – Built in 1829, this 699-steps staircase between the town and the top of the hill named Half Tree Hollow can be a daunting climb. This structure was constructed to transport goods down the hill and haul manure to the top. The most interesting aspect is if one manages to climb this 600 feet high structure, then one gets a certificate from the Museum in Jamestown!
Museum of St. Helena – Located in Jamestown, this museum is housed in an almost late-18th-century stone building which has been restored to its former glory. The museum has artifacts showcasing the human and natural history of the island. It is located close to Jacob’s Ladder.
Castle and its Garden – The Castle complex is over three centuries old. In the present, it is used by the government as offices for administration. The Castle Gardens is home to a variety of plants, including those that are endemic to the island and others that were introduced over the years. Plantation House – Located in the central part of island, the Plantation House is one of the must visit places in St. Helena. Home to the Island’s governor, this mansion is constructed in the Georgian style of architecture. The most interesting feature of this place is the park surrounding the house. It is famous for its tortoises, especially Jonathan, the one which is considered oldest on the planet. It was believed to have been born in 1832.
Longwood House – Another must-visit attraction in St. Helena, the Longwood House is known to have been Napoleon’s abode in exile. Now a museum, the house has been recreated with several items, furniture, and other memorabilia. Many of the originals, though, have been replaced due to their unavailability.
Accommodation in St. Helena
There are a number of hotels, inns, bed & breakfasts, self catering accommodations, and guest houses in St. Helena for every budget. These include:
- Consulate Hotel
- Town House
- Harris Guest House
- The Chalet
- Farm Lodge