Saint Helena

Saint Helena
Saint Helena

Introduction Saint Helena -
Background: 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. Ascension Island is the site of a US Air Force auxiliary airfield; Gough Island has a meteorological station. Geography Saint Helena
Location: islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, about midway between South America and Africa
Geographic coordinates: 15 56 S, 5 42 W
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 410 sq km note: includes St. Helena Island, Ascension, and the island group of Tristan da Cunha, which consists of Tristan da Cunha Island, Gough Island, Inaccessible Island, and the three Nightingale Islands water: 0 sq km land: 410 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly more than twice the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 60 km
Maritime claims: exclusive fishing zone: 200 NM territorial sea: 12 NM
Climate: Saint Helena - tropical; marine; mild, tempered by trade winds; Tristan da Cunha - temperate; marine, mild, tempered by trade winds (tends to be cooler than Saint Helena)
Terrain: Saint Helena - rugged, volcanic; small scattered plateaus and plains note: the other islands of the group have a volcanic origin
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m highest point: Queen Mary's Peak on Tristan da Cunha 2,060 m
Natural resources: fish
Land use: arable land: 12.9% permanent crops: 0% other: 87.1% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: NA sq km
Natural hazards: active volcanism on Tristan da Cunha Environment - current issues: NA
Geography - note: harbors at least 40 species of plants unknown anywhere else in the world; Ascension is a breeding ground for sea turtles and sooty terns People Saint Helena -
Population: 7,317 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 18.8% (male 698; female 678) 15-64 years: 71.9% (male 2,727; female 2,531) 65 years and over: 9.3% (male 296; female 387) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.7% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 13.26 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 6.29 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 1.08 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 0.77 male(s)/ female total population: 1.04 male(s)/ female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 21.54 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.2 years female: 80.23 years (2002 est.) male: 74.31 years
Total fertility rate: 1.53 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA% HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Saint Helenian(s) adjective: Saint Helenian
Ethnic groups: African descent 50%, white 25%, Chinese 25%
Religions: Anglican (majority), Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventist, Roman Catholic
Languages: English
Literacy: definition: age 20 and over can read and write total population: 97% male: 97% female: 98% (1987 est.) Government Saint Helena -
Country name: conventional long form: none conventional short form: Saint Helena
Dependency status: overseas territory of the UK
Government type: NA
Capital: Jamestown Administrative divisions: 1 administrative area and 2 dependencies*; Ascension*, Saint Helena, Tristan da Cunha*
Independence: none (overseas territory of the UK)
National holiday: Birthday of Queen ELIZABETH II, second Saturday in June (1926)
Constitution: 1 January 1989
Legal system: NA
Suffrage: NA years of age
Executive branch: chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952) elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; governor is appointed by the monarch head of government: Governor and Commander in Chief David HOLLAMBY (since NA June 1999) cabinet: Executive Council consists of the governor, two ex officio officers, and six elected members of the Legislative Council
Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Council (16 seats, including the speaker, 3 ex officio and 12 elected members; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms) elections: last held 27 June 2001 (next to be held NA June 2005) election results: percent of vote - NA%; seats - independents 15
Judicial branch: Supreme Court; Magistrate's Court; Small Debts Court; Juvenile Court Political parties and leaders: none Political pressure groups and none
leaders: International organization ICFTU
participation: Diplomatic representation in the US: none (overseas territory of the UK) Diplomatic representation from the none (overseas territory of the UK)
Flag description: 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 Economy Saint Helena
Economy - overview: The economy depends largely on financial assistance from the UK, which amounted to about $5 million in 1997 or almost one-half of annual budgetary revenues. The local population earns income from fishing, the raising of 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.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $18 million (1998 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: NA%
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $2,500 (1998 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: NA% industry: NA% services: NA% Population below poverty line: NA% Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: NA%
percentage share: highest 10%: NA% Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.2% (1997 est.)
Labor force: 3,500 (1998 est.) note: 1,200 work offshore Labor force - by occupation: agriculture and fishing 6%, industry (mainly construction) 48%, services 46% (1987 est.)
Unemployment rate: 14% (1998 est.)
Budget: revenues: $11.2 million expenditures: $11 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (FY92)
Industries: construction, crafts (furniture, lacework, fancy woodwork), fishing Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production: 5 million kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100% hydro: 0% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 4.65 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: corn, potatoes, vegetables; timber; fish, crawfish (on Tristan da Cunha)
Exports: $704,000 (f.o.b., 1995)
Exports - commodities: fish (frozen, canned, and salt-dried skipjack, tuna), coffee, handicrafts
Exports - partners: South Africa, UK
Imports: $14.434 million (c.i.f., 1995)
Imports - commodities: food, beverages, tobacco, fuel oils, animal feed, building materials, motor vehicles and parts, machinery and parts
Imports - partners: UK, South Africa
Debt - external: $NA Economic aid - recipient: $12.6 million (1995); note - $5.3 million from UK (1997)
Currency: Saint Helenian pound (SHP)
Currency code: SHP
Exchange rates: Saint Helenian pounds per US dollar - 0.6981 (January 2002), 0.6944 (2001), 0.6596 (2000), 0.6180 (1999), 0.6037 (1998), 0.6047 (1997); note - the Saint Helenian pound is at par with the British pound
Fiscal year: 1 April - 31 March Communications Saint Helena - Telephones - main lines in use: 2,000 (1997) Telephones - mobile cellular: 0 (1997)
Telephone system: general assessment: can communicate worldwide domestic: automatic network international: HF radiotelephone from Saint Helena to Ascension which is a major coaxial submarine cable relay point between South Africa, Portugal, and UK ; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) Radio broadcast stations: AM 1, FM 0, shortwave 0 (1998)
Radios: 3,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 0 (1997)
Televisions: 2,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .sh Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: NA
Communications - note: Gough Island has a meteorological station Transportation Saint Helena -
Railways: 0 km
Highways: total: 158 km (Saint Helena 118 km, Ascension 40 km, Tristan da Cunha 0 km) paved: 138 km (Saint Helena 98km, Ascension 40 km, Tristan da Cunha 0 km) unpaved: 20 km (Saint Helena 20 km, Ascension 0 km, Tristan da Cunha 0 km)
Waterways: none
Ports and harbors: Georgetown (on Ascension), Jamestown
Merchant marine: none (2002 est.)
Airports: 1 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 1 over 3,047 m: 1 (2001) Military Saint Helena -
Military - note: defense is the responsibility of the UK Transnational Issues Saint Helena - Disputes - international: none

* * *

Island (pop., 2000 est.: 4,647), southern Atlantic Ocean.

Located 1,200 mi (1,950 km) west of Africa, Saint Helena has an area of 47 sq mi (122 sq km). The capital and port is Jamestown. With Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha, it constitutes a British crown colony (area: 119 sq mi [308 sq km]; pop., 2000 est.: 5,930). Discovered in 1502, it became a port of call for ships sailing between Europe and the East Indies. It was owned by the British East India Co. in the 17th century; because of its remoteness, it was used as the final place of exile for Napoleon (1815–21). It declined in importance after the Suez Canal was opened in 1869.

* * *

  island and British overseas territory in the South Atlantic Ocean, lying 1,200 miles (1,950 km) west of the southwestern coast of Africa. St. Helena has a maximum length (southwest-northeast) of 10.5 miles (17 km) and a maximum breadth of 6.5 miles (10 km). The capital and port is Jamestown. Ascension Island (Ascension), approximately 700 miles (1,100 km) to the northwest, and the island group of Tristan da Cunha (Tristan da Cunha), some 1,300 miles (2,100 km) to the south, are dependencies of St. Helena. Area island of St. Helena, 47 square miles (122 square km). Pop. (2003) island of St. Helena, 3,800.

      Of volcanic origin, St. Helena has much volcanic ash and many conspicuous rock features, but volcanic activity on the island is now extinct. Perpendicular cliffs rise 1,600 to 2,300 feet (490 to 700 metres) on the eastern, northern, and western sides of the island. A semicircular rim of mountains north of Sandy Bay includes the island's two highest points, Diana Peak (2,690 feet [820 metres]) and Mount Actaeon (2,625 feet [800 metres]). South of the mountains, water-cut gorges are dispersed, becoming deep valleys near the sea. Springs are numerous. The only practicable place for ship landings is on the island's northwestern side at James Bay, from which a narrow valley extends 1.5 miles (2.4 km) inland. In this valley is nestled the town and port of Jamestown.

      St. Helena lies in the path of cool South Atlantic trade winds, and its climate is temperate, with warm summers and only slightly cooler winters. Annual rainfall ranges from 8 inches (200 mm) at sea level and more than 30 inches (760 mm) at the island's centre.

      St. Helena's native flora and fauna, which existed in isolation for millions of years, were devastated by the arrival of humans beginning in the 16th century, and subsequent introductions of alien species have continued to cause damage. Unique species still survive, however. The island can be divided into three vegetation zones: a rocky, barren coastal zone with cactus, extending inland for about 1 mile (1.6 km); a middle zone, extending another 0.25 to 1 mile (0.4 to 1.6 km) inland and supporting grassy hillslopes and gorse, willows, poplars, and Scotch pines; and the central zone, about 3 miles (5 km) long and 2 miles (3 km) wide, which is the home of the island's many species of endemic plants (including the St. Helena ebony, St. Helena redwood, and black cabbage trees) as well as oak trees, cedars, eucalypti, bamboo, and banana plants. Animals native to the island tend to be small in size; they include invertebrates such as blushing snails and a variety of insects, as well as wirebirds (a type of plover).

      The island's population is largely of mixed European (mostly British), Asian, and African descent. English is the only language spoken, and the majority of the people are Anglicans. Jamestown, the only town on St. Helena, has about one-fourth of the island's population.

      Less than one-third of the island is suitable for farming or forestry. Principal crops are corn (maize), potatoes, and green vegetables. Poultry, sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs are raised. Some coffee is grown for export. There are no minerals and virtually no industry, but some locally grown timber is used for construction purposes. Fish, primarily tuna, are caught in the waters around St. Helena; some is frozen at a cold-storage facility in the vicinity, and the remainder is dried and salted on the island. Virtually the entire output is exported.

      About two-thirds of the colony's budget is provided by the United Kingdom in the form of a subsidy; the remainder is raised from the sale of postage stamps and from customs duties and wharf fees. The island began developing tourism on a small scale in the late 1990s. Unemployment is a persistent problem, and many residents work abroad, especially on Ascension Island.

      The only port, Jamestown, has good anchorage for ships, and there is passenger and cargo service by sea to the United Kingdom and South Africa. The island has a system of roads but no airport or airfield.

Government and society
      St. Helena and its dependencies are administered by a governor, representing the British crown. The Legislative Council consists of the speaker, three ex officio members (the chief secretary, financial secretary, and attorney general of St. Helena), and 12 members who are elected to four-year terms. The governor presides over and is advised by the Executive Council, which includes the same three ex officio members who serve on the Legislative Council and five of the elected members of the Legislative Council; the latter chair the council committees and oversee departments of the government. Though the territory's residents are British subjects, legislation passed in Britain in 1981 established that they are not full citizens of the United Kingdom, as had been traditionally held. This greatly limited the population's opportunities for employment abroad, and the territory's constitutional relationship with Britain again came under review in the late 1990s. Education is compulsory and free for children between the ages of 5 and 15.

      The island was discovered on May 21, 1502, which in the Eastern Orthodox Church is the feast day of St. Helena, mother of the Roman emperor Constantine. The island's discoverer, João da Nova (Nova, João da), was a Spanish navigator in the service of Portugal. The existence of the island was known only to the Portuguese until 1588, when the English navigator Capt. Thomas Cavendish (Cavendish, Thomas) visited St. Helena on his return from a voyage around the world. The island soon became a port of call for ships en route between Europe and the East Indies.

      The Dutch may have occupied St. Helena about 1645–51, but in 1659 the English East India Company took possession of the island. After a brief Dutch occupation in 1673, the East India Company was confirmed in its ownership. By 1673 nearly half the inhabitants were imported slaves, but between 1826 and 1836 all slaves were freed. The remoteness of St. Helena made it attractive to the powers of Europe as a place of exile for Napoleon I, and he was confined at Longwood House on the island from October 1815 until his death in May 1821. During that period the island was placed under the jurisdiction of the British crown. Subsequently the East India Company resumed control until 1834, when the authority of the crown was restored. St. Helena remained reasonably prosperous as a busy port of call until about 1870; thereafter steam started replacing sail in seafaring, and the Suez Canal opened (1869), changing the pattern of sea routes.

      In the early 1960s a telecommunications centre was developed on the island of Ascension, and employment there of workers from St. Helena restored a degree of prosperity. St. Helena was given some measure of self-rule through an Order in Council and Royal Instructions in 1966 (effective January 1967) that provided for local executive and legislative councils; this order was replaced by a new constitution that became effective in January 1989.

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Universalium. 2010.

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