Your guide to being an expatriate in Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

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Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha are three British overseas territories situated in the South Atlantic Ocean. Saint Helena is a volcanic island, Ascension is a volcanic island with a central caldera and lava lake in its interior, and Tristan da Cunha is a remote volcanic island. These territories are famous for their remote locations, unique volcanic landscapes, and fascinating histories.

Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

Expat destinations in Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

Demographics of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha:

Ethnic groups

SAINT HELENA: African and British Creole (multi-ethnic Creole communities)

ASCENSION ISLAND: British (with some other European, African, and Asian heritage)

TRISTAN DA CUNHA: British (with some other European and African heritage)

Languages

SAINT HELENA: Saint Helenian Creole English

ASCENSION ISLAND: English

TRISTAN DA CUNHA: English

Religion Overview

Saint Helena, Ascension Island, and Tristan da Cunha are predominantly Christian. The most common denominations include the Anglican Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and the Methodist Church.

Major Religions

Climate

Saint Helena, Ascension Island, and Tristan da Cunha have a subtropical oceanic climate characterized by mild temperatures year-round. Saint Helena has an average annual temperature of 21°C (70°F), while Ascension Island is slightly warmer at 23°C (73°F), and Tristan da Cunha is colder with an average annual temperature of 12°C (54°F). Precipitation is low throughout the year, with Saint Helena receiving around 1,200 mm (47 in) annually, Ascension Island around 1,600 mm (63 in), and Tristan da Cunha around 600 mm (24 in).

Economy Overview

Saint Helena, Ascension Island, and Tristan da Cunha have small economies that are heavily dependent on assistance from the British government and other international sources. The primary economic sectors include public administration and defense, agriculture, and fishing.

Key Industries

  • Public Administration and Defense: Military, Public Order, and Safety - This sector is the largest employer and economic activity on each territory, as it includes the local government, police, military personnel, and related services. Saint Helena, Ascension Island, and Tristan da Cunha rely heavily on international financial assistance and grants for this sector.
  • Agriculture: Animal and Plant Production: Fisheries and aquaculture - While small, the agriculture sector is an important part of the economy in at least two of the three territories. In Saint Helena, agriculture employs around 17% of the labor force, while in Ascension Island agricultural production contributes around half of the local economy. Given its remote location and harsh environment, Tristan da Cunha has a much smaller agriculture sector.
  • Fishing: Capture of marine wildlife - While fishing is minimal in Saint Helena, Ascension Island's economy is highly dependent on tuna fishing. The 2017 catch was valued at approximately £6 million (EUR 7.1 million or USD 8.3 million), which is half of Ascension Island's entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Major Companies

  • Ascension Island Tourism Limited - This is the main tourism company on Ascension Island, and it provides accommodation, meals, and tours to visitors.
  • Saint Helena Electricity Services Limited - This is the main electricity company on Saint Helena, providing all of the island's electricity generation and distribution.

Culture and Language Overview

The cultures of the three territories are diverse yet interlinked, reflecting the history of British occupation and the multicultural heritage of their populations. Creole languages, African and British folktales and traditions, and maritime heritage are some common cultural elements.

Cultural Highlights

  • The Jamestown Market, which is Africa's oldest surviving market, is located in Saint Helena's capital, Jamestown. It displays a unique blend of African, British, and Indian cultural influences.
  • The Inquisition House and Museum on Saint Helena preserves portions of the former British territorial prison, which once housed the likes of Napoleon III and imprisoned slaves brought to Saint Helena by slave ships.
  • Ascension Island's famous Gertrude Harvey bird became endangered in the 1950s, but conservation efforts have helped it to rebound, with a population of around 400 today. The bird is a major tourist attraction.
  • Tristan da Cunha is known for its thriving Prince Edward Island fur seal colony, with over 40,000 seals living and breeding on the island.
  • Each territory has its own unique New Year's Day tradition. In Saint Helena, revelers throw coconuts down the steps of the Tuesday Market in Jamestown to symbolize "throwing out" the bad luck and negativity of the old year.
  • In Ascension Island, residents race hot water bottles down the slopes of Green Mountain, with rubber rings being added to transform them into miniature 'Sumo wrestlers' for comic effect.

Geography and Landmarks Overview

The three territories are characterized by highly volcanic landscapes with unique natural features. Each territory has impressive landmarks that draw visitors from all over the world looking for an authentic and unspoiled natural experience.

Notable Landmarks

  • Jenny's Gutter on Saint Helena is a scenic waterfall located in the core of the island's rainforest.
  • Three Banks Lighthouse at Hell's Gate is a functional lighthouse built on an active volcano at the southwestern tip of Ascension Island. The seawater from Hell's Gate is also home to several species found nowhere else in the world.
  • Volcano Tristan da Cunha on Tristan da Cunha is a beautiful volcano that offers unique experiences and perspectives to visitors who're willing to brave its hostile climate.

National Holidays

  • New Year's Day (January 1)
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Sunday
  • Easter Monday
  • Anzac Day (April 25) - This is a national holiday in the nearby territory of the Ross Dependency, which also falls within the vicinity of Ascension Island.
  • May Day (May 1)
  • Queen's Birthday (Second Monday in June)
  • Saint Helena Day (May 21)
  • Trinity Sunday (First Sunday after Whitsunday)
  • Remembrance Day (Second Sunday in November)
  • Saint Helena Liberation Day (15 November)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)
  • Boxing Day (December 26)
  • New Year's Eve (December 31)

Political Stability

Saint Helena, Ascension Island, and Tristan da Cunha are British Overseas Territories and therefore are politically stable governments under the British monarchy. However, each territory faces unique challenges to sustainable development, including isolation, climate change, and limited financial resources.

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