For an Island of just 47 square miles St Helena is rich in unique environmental and cultural heritage.
In the capital of Jamestown nearly every building is listed because of its historic importance while its Main Street has been described as ‘one of the best examples of unspoilt Georgian architecture anywhere in the world.’
The St Helena National Trust is responsible for the protection, enhancement and promotion of the Island’s natural and built heritage which include restoring the Island’s fragile Gumwood forests, conserving the endemic Wirebird, promoting the protection of the historic buildings and fortifications, and educating and training local people.
There is also a Heritage Society which continues to develop the Museum of St Helena with temporary exhibitions both encouraging repeat visits from Islanders and tourists alike.
The St Helena Government is also committed to conserving the Island’s environment and the focus of its Environmental Management Division (EMD) is to mainstream environment and climate change within St Helena Government. EMD also focuses on policy and legislation, communication and stakeholder engagement, evidence-based advice, assessment, monitoring, evaluation and enforcement. Additional information on the Environment and EMD can be found on the Environment Page.
St Helena has a small population with just over 4500 residents. Over the years, the population has fluctuated with many ‘Saints,’ as they are known, having migrated to the UK or having left to work abroad on the Falklands, Ascension Island and Germany, where job opportunities have traditionally been better than those on-Island.
The newly opened and operational St Helena Airport has changed that, with many Saints returning for new employment opportunities that the Airport has brought both during the construction phrase and now after it’s opening.
‘Saints’ are mainly descendents from European planters, Chinese workers, and slaves from Madagascar, Asia and Africa. ‘Saints’ are known for their friendliness and hospitable nature.
The diversity of the Saint population is reflected in their cuisine from spicy goat meat curry, tuna fish cakes, chicken pilau to pumpkin pudding and coconut fingers.
Discovered on 21 May 1502 (by the Portuguese), the Island commemorates its birthday with a public holiday celebrated in true St Helenian fashion, which includes float parades, stalls, face painting and live entertainment.
Other merriments traditionally celebrated on the Island are the festive seasons of Christmas and Easter, a Biennial Walking Festival, Festival of Running, Marine and Cancer Awareness weeks as well as other awareness raising campaigns. Church parades also take place every fourth Sunday of the month where the Scouts, Cubs, Rainbows, Brownies and Guides often march through the Main Street of the capital, Jamestown, before attending a service at St James’ Church, the oldest church in the Southern hemisphere. This tradition also takes place on Remembrance Sunday when they are joined by other uniformed contingencies like the Police, Salvation Army and the Gettogethers Orchestra.
An annual Scout’s Sports Day is also held in the ‘Mule Yard’, at the seafront, on the Sunday of the August Bank Holiday weekend which is a fundraiser for the 1st Jamestown Scouts Group. St Helena also celebrated UK festivals, such as the 2012 Diamond Jubilee, where it was on par with celebrations in the UK.
The Saints’ taste in music is as diverse as its culture from country to rock to pop and R’n’B. Locally produced music is also growing, with some Saints producing their own ‘local talent’ CDs available to buy in local shops and online and for release on the radio.
The majority of people on St Helena follow the Church of England. The Island also has its own Bishop who resides on the Island.
Other popular denominations represented on the Island are Roman Catholic, Salvation Army, Baptist, Seventh Day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witness, New Apostolic and Baha’i Faith.
Saints Overseas and the St Helena Ambassador
Our aim is to provide you with information on developments at “Home” so that you are kept in the loop with changes that are taking place here on St Helena and the effect such changes may have on Island life. St Helena is developing rapidly with the recent opening of St Helena Airport and the start of a commercial weekly flight from St Helena to Johannesburg and the plans to introduce additional flights, initially during the Island’s peak periods.
For some of the more lighthearted community stories on St Helena please check out the St Helena Ambassador articles.