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 Saint 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.
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.
St Helena has a small population with just over 4300 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.
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.
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.
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 St Helenian Bishop.
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.