People

Peaks Conservation Team

St Helena was first discovered by the Portuguese in 1502, and they used its natural resources to replenish their ships trading in the Indian Ocean.

The Dutch then annexed the Island in 1633, but although they regarded it as their own, they did not establish a settlement, and left the door open for the East India Company to found the first official settlement – Jamestown – in 1659.

This gave rise to some aggressive tactics by both sides, but after a short occupation by the Dutch in 1673, which lasted but a few weeks, the East India Company went on to hold the Island under charter until 1834, when it was brought under the direct government of the Crown.

The Saints

The people of the Island are UK citizens and are known as “Saints”.

They are of mixed origin, descended from British settlers sent out by the East India Company and from slaves or workers from the East Indies and Madagascar, as well as a number of Chinese and Africans.

The language of the Island has always been English. Locals have adapted the English into a “saint” dialect.

The 2021 Census, conducted in February, recorded 4,439 people living on the Island of which 4,114 are St Helenian. The Census registered 325 expatriates who are predominantly British and South African workers, along with partners and families.

An issue highlighted by the 2021 Census is the increasing number of St Helenians aged 65 years and over, which accounts for 26% of the whole St Helenian population.  This is a rise of 18% more than the 2016 Census.

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