Economy of Saint Helena

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The economy of Saint Helena depends largely on financial assistance from the United Kingdom, which amounted to about $5 million in 1998. Saint Helena's local population earns income from fishing, the raising of livestock, and sales of handicrafts. Because there are few jobs, a large proportion of the work force has left to seek employment overseas.

The British government announced an intention in early 2005 to fund building of an international airport on the island by 2010. In 2009 the government postponed the plans while the UK was in recession but in November 2011 eventually decided to build the Saint Helena Airport from 2012 through 2015. With a total investment of £236.6m (costs for construction and ten years of operation) the airport will be the largest single investment ever made in the island.[1]

Saint Helena's gross domestic product (GDP) by purchasing power parity for the 1994/5 financial year was US$13.9 million, and this figure, per capita, was $2,000. The financial year in Saint Helena runs from 1 April to 31 March. St. Helena's budget had revenues of $11.2 million, with expenditures of $11 million in the financial year ending 1993.

A campaign is currently underway (reported on BBC Radio 4, Today programme, 10 July 2004) to encourage emigration from the UK to Saint Helena to aid development of the economy.


Saint Helena possesses construction, craft (including furniture and lacework) and fishing industries.


In 1991, Saint Helena had a workforce of 2,416. A large proportion of the work force has, however, left to seek employment overseas. Of the workforce, 6% are employed in farming and fishing, 48% in industry (mainly construction) and the remaining 46% are employed in service industry. In 1996, the rate of unemployment was 18%.


In 1998, Saint Helena's energy production was 6 GWh, matching its consumption, of which 90% was produced by fossil fuels and the remaining 10% by wind turbines. In June 2011 another three WES18 wind turbines have been installed resulting in a total number of six wind turbines with a nominal power output of 80 kW each.[2]


The main agricultural products of Saint Helena are: maize, potatoes, vegetables; timber; fish, crawfish (on Tristan da Cunha)


In 1995, exports were at a value of $704,000, with commodities exported including: fish (frozen, canned, and salt-dried skipjack, tuna), coffee, handicrafts and Tungi Spirit. Export partners were South Africa and the United Kingdom.


$14.434 million of imports were made in 1995, imported commodities including: food, beverages, tobacco, fuel oils, animal feed, building materials, motor vehicles and parts, machinery and parts. Saint Helena's import partners, like its export partners, are South Africa and the UK.

Economic aid

Saint Helena received $12.6 million in aid in 1995, and in 1997, $5.3 million from the United Kingdom.


The local currency is the Saint Helena pound, which is equivalent to 100 pence, and is at a par with the British Pound. The government issues its own coins and banknotes.

Banking services on St. Helena (and Ascension Island) are provided by the Bank of St. Helena, which delivers a full retail banking service to individuals and business in, and trading with, St. Helena.

See also


  1. "Airport Approved" The St Helena Herald, Volume XI Number 28, 4 November 2011, p.4
  2. "Wind Turbines officially opened", St Helena Herald, Volume X no. 8, 18 June 2010, p. 13

External links