Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where in the world is St. Helena?

This tiny volcanic island is 1,200 miles from southwest Africa and 1,800 miles from South America. Ascension Island, the nearest landmass, is 703 miles north.

img Image via GoogleMaps.

2. How many people live there?

Approximately 4,500 people are residents of the island.

3. How big is the island?

St. Helena is about 47 square miles: 10.5 miles wide, 6.5 miles long.

4. Why should I care about this project?

Because journalism has forgotten to stop and pick out the incredible, hidden stories in the rush to publish first and get clicks.

St. Helena is an incredible place in an incredible period of history, with issues that go unnoticed and unresolved.

Our project is independent, so we take our time to fact-check, interact with our audience and provide an entirely true picture.

5. What do you like the least about the island?

Freedom of the Press does not exist here… neither does Taco Bell.

6. What country does St. Helena belong to?

St. Helena was discovered by the Portuguese in 1502, settled by the Dutch in 1633 and colonised by the British in 1659. St. Helena today remains a British Overseas Territory, although it is given less annual subsidy by DfID than most foreign countries.

Main Street in Jamestown. Photo by Sarah Pitts.

7. Do people really wear grass skirts and did they really take part in the Great Coconut War?

No. St. Helena is very civilized. There is internet, electricity and now even cell phone service (all for some of the most expensive rates on earth). There are more cars than people on the island, and people wear T-shirts, pants and shoes.

img Gary Stevens' truck outside his farm near South-West Point. Photo by Sarah Pitts.

8. Is there Internet?

Yes, although it is monopolized, slow, and extremely expensive.

9. What is the weather like?

There’s no reliable weather forecast, as St. Helena consists of microclimates. This means one part of the island can be covered in cloud while another is dry as bones. Overall, temperatures are mild and the annual seasons are a wet period and a dry period.

10. Who are you?

We are Emma Weaver and Sarah Pitts. Here’s Emma’s resume and bio, and here’s Sarah’s resume and bio. Emma enjoys the company of dogs and long walks along jagged cliff faces, while Sarah is a cat who likes napping in the sun.

11. What stories can I look forward to?

  • St. Helena leading the world in whale shark research and tourism
  • How one of earth’s last colonial governments functions
  • Why St. Helena is building the world’s largest prison system
  • The world’s only disease-free bees
  • How expensive internet, only free between midnight and 6 a.m., impacts school children
  • Sustainable farming initiatives on one of the world’s most remote islands
  • How the Royal Mail Ship and the St. Helena Airport progress
  • What music is popular in the middle of the Atlantic
  • The world’s most remote gaming business

img The RMS St. Helena. Photo by Sarah Pitts.

12. Why did you chose to do this project?

In 1960, Emma’s grandfather started a paper on St. Helena Island “for a better St. Helena,” when there was otherwise only a government newsletter (Emma’s mother’s family is St. Helenian and her dad’s British, though she grew up in the States). In 2015, a year out from graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a journalism degree, Emma visited St. Helena for the third time. She saw many of the issues her grandfather wrote about persisted on the island, and that St. Helena was teetering on the edge of globalization. Emma decided the island deserved to be documented.

13. When did the project begin?

In 2016, Emma created independent reporting project Six Months a Saint and asked Sarah Pitts to be her Digital Producer. On Jan. 19 2017, the official project start date, Emma left Oklahoma and Sarah left Colorado. Sarah will leave St. Helena July 17, while Emma will stay on the island during post-production.

14. What stories are you most looking forward to?

We are particularly looking forward to looking into the recycling initiatives on the island, and to documenting all 22 of the island’s infamous Post Box walks.