30 July 2019
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This bulletin presents estimates of the total population, available statistics on St Helenians on Ascension, the Falklands, and living in the United Kingdom, and updates to the number of births and deaths and arrivals and departures.
The primary sources that have been used to compile this bulletin are mainly the 2016 St Helena Population Census, immigration records collected by the Immigration Office of the Police Directorate; and records of births and deaths collected by the Customer Service Centre at the Post Office. Estimates of St Helenians (or the St Helenian-born) population overseas have been obtained from the 2016 Falkland Islands Census; population statistics maintained by the Ascension Island Government; and the 2011 Census of the United Kingdom (England and Wales).
Population statistics for St Helena can be downloaded from www.sainthelena.gov.sh/statistics-data in the Population data file. Population statistics for Ascension Island are in the Ascension Population data file.
The total population on St Helena (residents and temporary visitors) at the end of June 2019 was estimated to be 4,425, some 226 less than June 2018 and the lowest number since weekly flights started in October 2017. On the other hand, the number of St Helenians on St Helena was estimated to be 4,349, an increase of 127 compared to June 2018. These differences may reflect month-to-month variation, the significant drop in workers from overseas on St Helena following the completion of the new airport, non-St Helenian residents departing for holidays in the European summer, and some seasonal variation in tourist arrivals as St Helena enters its cooler winter season and the number of weekly flights are reduced from two to one.
St Helenians abroad
Table 1 provides estimates of the number of St Helenians living on Ascension, and those born on St Helena living on the Falkland Islands or in England and Wales (these countries represent the most common destination of St Helenians currently). Please note that there are no known reliable estimates of the total number of St Helenians living abroad outside of St Helena: data sources are often incomplete or do not provide adequate disaggregation, and St Helenian ‘status’ (or St Helenian as self-reported national identity) is not systematically reported in surveys or the administrative records of other countries.
 St Helena status is defined in St Helena’s Immigration Ordinance; see: https://www.sainthelena.gov.sh/st-helenian-status/
Place of birth of St Helena is not a good indicator of St Helenian status, or self-reported St Helenian national identity, because St Helenians may acquire their status by descent as well as by place of birth (i.e. they may be born outside of St Helena but to St Helenian parents or grandparents). The numbers in Table 1 should not, therefore, be aggregated to provide a total estimate of St Helenians living abroad, although it provides a lower bound. In addition, there is a significant number of St Helenians living in other countries, especially South Africa, but data sources for estimates of these have not been identified.
Chart 2 shows the population of Ascension since 2014, classified as St Helenian males, females, and other nationalities. The total population has been steadily lowly falling, along with the number of St Helenians, especially males; however St Helenian is still the largest single nationality group on Ascension Island, comprising around two in every three of the population.
Chart 3 illustrates the location of those in the 2011 Census that reported they were St Helenian-born; the largest number live in the South East (which includes Oxfordshire, Hampshire and Berkshire), with a large number also living in the South West (which includes Wiltshire and Gloucestershire).
Births and deaths
So far in 2019 there have been 18 recorded births, with 10 girls and eight boys. There were also 18 deaths, with six of the deaths female and twelve male. This is only the second time that the number of births has equalled or exceeded the number of deaths in a six-month period since 2005, but the long-term trend is for the number of deaths to exceed the number of births (see Chart 4).
In June 2019, 263 people arrived on St Helena, with most arriving by air (258). This is slightly lower than the same month last year, when 285 people arrived altogether. 76 arrivals were returning residents, 67 were coming for a business purpose (including those with long-term entry permits), 59 were tourists (non-St Helenian), and 56 were St Helenians living abroad coming to visit family and friends. The number of arrivals of non-St Helenian tourists is typically lower in the cooler season of June to October; and the estimate for June reflects that trend (see Chart 5). Chart 5 also illustrates that the number of non-St Helenian tourist arrivals by air has tended to be higher than the numbers arriving by RMS St Helena prior to the opening of the airport.
So far in the first six months of 2019, some 3,185 people departed from St Helena, including both short-term and long-term visitors, and residents. 478 (15%) of those left St Helena stated that they departed either to find temporary work overseas or to emigrate. This is a slightly higher number than the same period last year, when 449 people left for work or emigration. But it is not as high as the same period in either 2012 or 2013, when 538 and 512 people left for this reason respectively. Chart 6 shows monthly departures for work or emigration – the peaks correspond to the months following the Christmas holiday period, when many St Helenians return overseas after coming home to spend time with friends and family.
Definitions and methodology
The classification of arrivals and departures into purpose of visit or departure is based on the declarations made to Immigration Officers. Tourism/holiday includes short-term visitors or departures (i.e. less than six months) for tourism or holiday purposes, and it includes St Helenians visiting short-term to see family and friends, both those that live permanently abroad and those who are away for a period of overseas employment. Day visitors arriving on cruise ships are not included in either arrivals or departures. Business and employment includes short-term and long-term arrivals who arrive for work purposes, including those employed by the St Helena Government on contract (and their families). Returning residents are people who are returning to their normal place of residence (for arrivals, this excludes those returning for the purpose of business or employment). It also includes people returning permanently from periods of overseas employment. Transit includes those for whom St Helena is not their final destination; it includes most arrivals by yacht and any people transiting to or from a ship via air.
Three categories of the total population are computed. The on-Island population is an estimate of the total number of people on St Helena at the end of the given period (this is sometimes also referred to as the ‘de facto’ population). The resident population is an estimate of the total number of people living on St Helena (i.e. excluding any short-term visitors), regardless of their nationality. The on-Island St Helenian population is an estimate of the total number of St Helenians on the Island, regardless of their residence status. Estimates of the total population are calculated by combining the number of arrivals and departures and the number of births and deaths with the estimated total population from the population censuses.
Have questions or comments?
Please get in touch: we are Neil Fantom, Statistical Commissioner, Justine Joshua, Senior Statistical Assistant, and Bertina Benjamin, Statistical Assistant. You can find us in person at the Statistics Office on the first floor of the Castle, Jamestown, at the back of the main courtyard. You can also contact us by telephone: our direct line is 22138 or via the Castle switchboard on 22470. If calling from overseas, the international dialling code for St Helena is +290. Our general office e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can email team members directly (the format is email@example.com).