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Africa :: Saint Helena
(overseas territory of the UK)
page last updated on October 28, 2009
Flag of Saint Helena
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Introduction ::Saint Helena
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Saint Helena is a British Overseas Territory consisting of Saint Helena and Ascension Islands, and the island group of Tristan da Cunha.
Saint Helena: Uninhabited when first discovered by the Portuguese in 1502, Saint Helena was garrisoned by the British during the 17th century. It acquired fame as the place of Napoleon BONAPARTE's exile from 1815 until his death in 1821, but its importance as a port of call declined after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. During the Anglo-Boer War in South Africa, several thousand Boer prisoners were confined on the island between 1900 and 1903.
Ascension Island: This barren and uninhabited island was discovered and named by the Portuguese in 1503. The British garrisoned the island in 1815 to prevent a rescue of Napoleon from Saint Helena. It served as a provisioning station for the Royal Navy's West Africa Squadron on anti-slavery patrol. The island remained under Admiralty control until 1922, when it became a dependency of Saint Helena. During World War II, the UK permitted the US to construct an airfield on Ascension in support of trans-Atlantic flights to Africa and anti-submarine operations in the South Atlantic. In the 1960s the island became an important space tracking station for the US. In 1982, Ascension was an essential staging area for British forces during the Falklands War. It remains a critical refueling point in the air-bridge from the UK to the South Atlantic.
Tristan da Cunha: The island group consists of the islands of Tristan da Cunha, Nightingale, Inaccessible, and Gough. Tristan da Cunha is named after its Portuguese discoverer (1506); it was garrisoned by the British in 1816 to prevent any attempt to rescue Napoleon from Saint Helena. Gough and Inaccessible Islands have been designated World Heritage Sites. South Africa leases a site for a meteorological station on Gough Island.
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Geography ::Saint Helena
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islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, about midway between South America and Africa; Ascension Island lies 700 nm northwest of Saint Helena; Tristan da Cunha lies 2,300 nm southwest of Saint Helena
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Saint Helena: 15 57 S, 5 42 W
Ascension Island: 7 57 S, 14 22 W
Tristan da Cunha island group: 37 15 S, 12 30 W
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total: 308 sq km
country comparison to the world: 208
land: Saint Helena Island 122 sq km; Ascension Island 88 sq km; Tristan da Cunha island group 98 sq km
water: 0 sq km
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slightly more than twice the size of Washington, DC
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0 km
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Saint Helena: 60 km
Ascension Island: NA
Tristan da Cunha: 40 km
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territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
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Saint Helena: tropical marine; mild, tempered by trade winds
Ascension Island: tropical marine; mild, semi-arid
Tristan da Cunha: temperate marine; mild, tempered by trade winds (tends to be cooler than Saint Helena)
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the islands of this group result from volcanic activity associated with the Atlantic Mid-Ocean Ridge
Saint Helena: rugged, volcanic; small scattered plateaus and plains
Ascension: surface covered by lava flows and cinder cones of 44 dormant volcanoes; ground rises to the east
Tristan da Cunha: sheer cliffs line the coastline of the nearly circular island; the flanks of the central volcanic peak are deeply dissected; narrow coastal plain lies between The Peak and the coastal cliffs
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lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Queen Mary's Peak on Tristan da Cunha 2,062 m; Green Mountain on Ascension Island 859 m; Mount Actaeon on Saint Helena Island 818 m
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fish, lobster
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arable land: 12.9%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 87.1% (2005)
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NA
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active volcanism on Tristan da Cunha, last eruption in 1961
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NA
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Saint Helena harbors at least 40 species of plants unknown anywhere else in the world; Ascension is a breeding ground for sea turtles and sooty terns; Queen Mary's Peak on Tristan da Cunha is the highest island mountain in the South Atlantic and a prominent landmark on the sea lanes around southern Africa
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People ::Saint Helena
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7,637
country comparison to the world: 225
note: only Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha islands are inhabited (July 2009 est.)
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0-14 years: 18.3% (male 712/female 685)
15-64 years: 70.4% (male 2,744/female 2,629)
65 years and over: 11.4% (male 412/female 455) (2009 est.)
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total: 37.6 years
male: 37.7 years
female: 37.5 years (2009 est.)
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0.445% (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 158
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11.13 births/1,000 population (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 175
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6.68 deaths/1,000 population (July 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 146
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NA (2009 est.)
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urban population: 39% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 1.5% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)
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at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.9 male(s)/female
total population: 1.03 male(s)/female (2009 est.)
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total: 17.63 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 116
male: 20.71 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 14.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2009 est.)
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total population: 78.44 years
country comparison to the world: 44
male: 75.52 years
female: 81.5 years (2009 est.)
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1.56 children born/woman (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 184
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NA
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NA
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NA
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noun: Saint Helenian(s)
adjective: Saint Helenian
note: referred to locally as "Saints"
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African descent 50%, white 25%, Chinese 25%
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Anglican (majority), Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventist, Roman Catholic
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English
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definition: age 20 and over can read and write
total population: 97%
male: 97%
female: 98% (1987 est.)
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NA
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Government ::Saint Helena
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conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Saint Helena
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overseas territory of the UK
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NA
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name: Jamestown
geographic coordinates: 15 56 S, 5 44 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
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1 administrative area and 2 dependencies*; Ascension*, Saint Helena, Tristan da Cunha*
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none (overseas territory of the UK)
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Birthday of Queen ELIZABETH II, second Saturday in June (1926)
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1 January 1989
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English common law and statutes supplemented by local statutes
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NA
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chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952)
head of government: Governor and Commander in Chief Andrew GURR (since 11 November 2007)
cabinet: Executive Council consists of the governor, 3 ex-officio officers, and 5 elected members of the Legislative Council
elections: the monarch is hereditary; governor is appointed by the monarch
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unicameral Legislative Council (16 seats, including the speaker, three ex officio and 12 elected members; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 31 August 2005 (next to be held in November 2009)
election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - independents 12
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Magistrate's Court; Supreme Court; Court of Appeal
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none
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other: private sector; unions
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UPU, WFTU
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none (overseas territory of the UK)
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none (overseas territory of the UK)
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blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the Saint Helenian shield centered on the outer half of the flag; the shield features a rocky coastline and three-masted sailing ship
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Economy ::Saint Helena
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The economy depends largely on financial assistance from the UK, which amounted to about $27 million in FY06/07 or more than twice the level of annual budgetary revenues. The local population earns income from fishing, raising livestock, and sales of handicrafts. Because there are few jobs, 25% of the work force has left to seek employment on Ascension Island, on the Falklands, and in the UK.
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$18 million (1998 est.)
country comparison to the world: 225
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$NA
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NA%
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$2,500 (1998 est.)
country comparison to the world: 174
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agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
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2,486
country comparison to the world: 218
note: 1,200 work offshore (1998 est.)
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agriculture: 6%
industry: 48%
services: 46% (1987 est.)
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14% (1998 est.)
country comparison to the world: 148
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NA%
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lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
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revenues: $12.33 million
expenditures: $30.28 million
note: revenue data reflect locally raised revenues only; the budget deficit is resolved by grant aid from the United Kingdom (FY06/07 est.)
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3.2% (1997 est.)
country comparison to the world: 39
3.2% (1997 est.)
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coffee, corn, potatoes, vegetables; timber; fish, lobster (on Tristan da Cunha); livestock
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construction, crafts (furniture, lacework, fancy woodwork), fishing, philatelic sales
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NA%
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8 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 210
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7.44 million kWh (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 211
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0 kWh (2008 est.)
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0 kWh (2008 est.)
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0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 134
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0 bbl/day (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 204
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0 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 167
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79.73 bbl/day (2007 est.)
country comparison to the world: 204
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0 bbl (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 135
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0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 134
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0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 137
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0 cu m (2008)
country comparison to the world: 118
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0 cu m (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 134
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0 cu m (1 January 2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 138
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$19 million (2004 est.)
country comparison to the world: 205
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fish (frozen, canned, and salt-dried skipjack, tuna), coffee, handicrafts
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$45 million (2004 est.)
country comparison to the world: 214
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food, beverages, tobacco, fuel oils, animal feed, building materials, motor vehicles and parts, machinery and parts
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$NA
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Saint Helenian pounds (SHP) per US dollar - 0.5302 (2008), 0.4993 (2007), 0.5418 (2006), 0.5493 (2005), 0.5462 (2004)
note: the Saint Helenian pound is on par with the British pound
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Communications ::Saint Helena
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2,300 (2008)
country comparison to the world: 223
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general assessment: can communicate worldwide
domestic: automatic digital network
international: country code (Saint Helena) - 290, (Ascension Island) - 247; international direct dialing; satellite voice and data communications; satellite earth stations - 5 (Ascension Island - 4, Saint Helena - 1)
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Saint Helena: AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 0
Ascension: AM 1, FM 1, shortwave 1 (2005)
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0 (3 television channels are received via satellite and distributed by UHF) (2005)
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.sh; note - Ascension Island assigned .ac
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343 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 178
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1,100; note - includes Ascension Island (2008)
country comparison to the world: 213
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South Africa maintains a meteorological station on Gough Island
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Transportation ::Saint Helena
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1 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 216
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total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2009)
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total: 198 km (Saint Helena 138 km, Ascension 40 km, Tristan da Cunha 20 km)
country comparison to the world: 207
paved: 168 km (Saint Helena 118 km, Ascension 40 km, Tristan da Cunha 10 km)
unpaved: 30 km (Saint Helena 20 km, Ascension 0 km, Tristan da Cunha 10 km) (2002)
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Saint Helena: Jamestown
Ascension Island: Georgetown
Tristan da Cunha: Calshot Harbor
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there is no air connection to Saint Helena or Tristan da Cunha; an international airport for Saint Helena is in development for 2010
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Military ::Saint Helena
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males age 16-49: 1,586
females age 16-49: 1,600 (2009 est.)
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male: 47
female: 45 (2009 est.)
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defense is the responsibility of the UK
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Transnational Issues ::Saint Helena
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none
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