The history of St Helena is fascinating and touches many aspects of world history. Discovered by the Portuguese in 1502, it became a Dutch then a British possession (initially under the East India Company then the Crown). It was a strategically important port of call during the British Empire, until the opening of the Suez Canal and the advent of steamships.
The island’s remote location meant it was used as a place of exile for key prisoners, including some 6 000 Boers, King Dinuzulu, Bahraini princes and, of course, Napoleon, who died on St Helena. The island also played an important role during the abolition of slavery. St Helena’s heritage provides a significant legacy of fortifications, remains, historic buildings, and what has been described as “the quintessential Atlantic port” – Jamestown. In the capital of Jamestown, several buildings are listed because of its historic importance while Main Street has been described as ‘one of the best examples of unspoiled Georgian architecture anywhere in the world.