The Info List - Ascension Island

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Coordinates: 7°56′S 14°22′W / 7.933°S 14.367°W / -7.933; -14.367

Ascension Island


Coat of arms

Anthem: "God Save the Queen"

Capital and largest settlement Georgetown 7°56′S 14°25′W / 7.933°S 14.417°W / -7.933; -14.417

Official languages English

Part of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

Government appointed Administrator

• Queen

Elizabeth II

• Governor

Lisa Phillips

• Administrator

Marc Holland

Territory under United Kingdom

• First inhabited


• Dependency of St Helena

12 September 1922

• Current constitution

1 September 2009


• Total

88 km2 (34 sq mi) (219th)

• Water (%)



• February 2016 census


Currency Saint Helena
Saint Helena
pound (US$ accepted) (SHP)

Time zone GMT (UTC⁠)

Drives on the left

Calling code +247

ISO 3166 code SH-AC

Internet TLD .ac

UK Postcode: ASCN 1ZZ

Ascension Island
Ascension Island
is an isolated volcanic island, 7°56' south of the Equator
in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is about 1,600 kilometres (1,000 mi) from the coast of Africa and 2,250 kilometres (1,400 mi) from the coast of Brazil, roughly midway between the horn of South America and Africa. It is governed as part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha,[2] of which the main island, Saint Helena, is around 1,300 kilometres (800 mi) to the southeast. The territory also includes the sparsely-populated Tristan da Cunha
Tristan da Cunha
archipelago, some 3,730 kilometres (2,300 mi) to the south, about halfway to the Antarctic Circle. The island is named after the day of its recorded discovery, Ascension Day. It played a role as an important safe haven and coaling station to mariners and for commercial airliners during the days of international air travel by flying boats. During World War II
World War II
it was an important naval and air station, especially providing antisubmarine warfare bases in the Battle of the Atlantic.[3] Ascension Island
Ascension Island
was garrisoned by the British Admiralty
from 22 October 1815 to 1922. The island is the location of RAF Ascension Island, which is a Royal Air Force station, a European Space Agency
European Space Agency
rocket tracking station, an Anglo-American signals intelligence facility and the BBC
World Service Atlantic Relay Station. The island was used extensively as a staging point by the British military
British military
during the Falklands War. Ascension Island hosts one of four ground antennas (others are on Kwajalein Island, Diego Garcia, and Cape Canaveral) that assist in the operation of the Global Positioning System
Global Positioning System
(GPS) navigational system. NASA operates a Meter Class Autonomous Telescope (MCAT) on Ascension Island for tracking orbital debris, which is potentially hazardous to operating spacecraft and astronauts, at a facility called the John Africano NASA/AFRL Orbital Debris Observatory.[4]


1 History

1.1 Discovery 1.2 Organised Settlement 1.3 Botany 1.4 Early Government 1.5 World Wars 1.6 Later Military Involvement 1.7 Modern Use

2 Geography

2.1 Geology 2.2 Climate

3 Ecology

3.1 Flora 3.2 Fauna 3.3 Important bird area 3.4 Marine reserve

4 Politics 5 Demographics 6 Culture 7 Economy

7.1 Tourism and related industries 7.2 Communications 7.3 Banking and currency

8 Transport 9 See also 10 References 11 Bibliography 12 External links


Location of Ascension Island
Ascension Island
in the British South Atlantic territories

Discovery[edit] In 1501, the Portuguese navigator Afonso de Albuquerque
Afonso de Albuquerque
sighted the island on Ascension Day
Ascension Day
(which fell on 21 May that year) and named it Ilha da Ascensão after this feast day.[5] Dry and barren, the island had little appeal for passing ships except for collecting fresh meat, and was not claimed for the Portuguese Crown. Mariners could hunt for the numerous seabirds and the enormous female green turtles that laid their eggs on the sandy beaches. The Portuguese also introduced goats as a potential source of meat for future mariners. In February 1701, HMS Roebuck, commanded by William Dampier, sank in the common anchoring spot in Clarence Bay
Clarence Bay
to the northwest of the island. Sixty men survived for two months until they were rescued. Almost certainly, after a few days they found the strong water spring in the high interior of the island, in what is now called Breakneck Valley (there is a much smaller water source, lower on the mountain, which was named Dampier's Drip by people who probably misinterpreted Dampier's story).[6] It is possible that the island was sometimes used[7] as an open prison for criminal mariners, although there is only one documented case of such an exile, a Dutch ship's officer, Leendert Hasenbosch, set ashore at Clarence Bay
Clarence Bay
as a punishment for sodomy in May 1725.[citation needed] British mariners found the Dutchman's tent, belongings and diary in January 1726; the man's remains were not found. His diary was published in translation in London later that same year, under the title Sodomy
Punish'd; it can nowadays be read online.[8] Organised Settlement[edit] Organised settlement of Ascension Island
Ascension Island
began in 1815, when the British garrisoned it as a precaution after imprisoning Napoleon I
Napoleon I
on Saint Helena
Saint Helena
to the southeast.[5] On 22 October the Cruizer class brig-sloops Zenobia and Peruvian claimed the island for His Britannic Majesty King George III. The Royal Navy
Royal Navy
designated the island as a stone frigate, HMS Ascension, with the classification of "Sloop of War of the smaller class".

Royal Marine barracks (1830) in the former Royal Dockyard, Georgetown.

The location of the island made it a useful stopping-point for ships and communications. The Royal Navy
Royal Navy
used the island as a victualling station for ships, particularly those of the West Africa Squadron working against the slave trade.[9] A garrison of Royal Marines
Royal Marines
was based at Ascension from 1823. Botany[edit] In 1836 the Beagle voyage visited Ascension. Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
described it as an arid treeless island, with nothing growing near the coast. Sparse vegetation inland supported "about six hundred sheep, many goats, a few cows & horses", large numbers of guineafowl imported from the Cape Verde
Cape Verde
islands, rats, mice, and land crabs; he agreed with the saying attributed to the people of St Helena that "We know we live on a rock, but the poor people at Ascension live on a cinder". He noted the care taken to sustain "houses, gardens & fields placed near the summit of the central mountain", and cisterns at roadsides to provide drinking water. The springs were carefully managed, "so that a single drop of water may not be lost: indeed the whole island may be compared to a huge ship kept in first-rate order." In commenting on this, he noted René Primevère Lesson's remark "that the English nation alone would have thought of making the island of Ascension a productive spot; any other people would have held it as a mere fortress in the ocean."[10] In 1843, botanist and explorer Joseph Hooker visited the island. Four years later, Hooker, with much encouragement from Darwin, advised the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
that with the help of Kew Gardens, they should institute a long-term plan of shipping trees to Ascension. The planted trees would capture more rain and improve the soil, allowing the barren island to become a garden. So, from 1850 and continuing year on year, ships came with an assortment of plants from botanical gardens in Argentina, Europe and South Africa. By the late 1870s Norfolk pines, eucalyptus, bamboo, and banana trees grew in profusion at the highest point of the island, Green Mountain, creating a tropical cloud forest.[11] Early Government[edit] In 1899, the Eastern Telegraph Company installed the first underwater cable from the island, connecting the UK with its colonies in South Africa.[5] In 1922, letters patent made Ascension a dependency of Saint Helena.[5] The island was managed by the head of the Eastern Telegraph Company on the island until 1964 when the British Government appointed an Administrator to represent the Governor of Saint Helena on Ascension.[5] World Wars[edit] During World War II, to supply and augment extensive amphibious aircraft antisubmarine patrol operations ongoing from the early days of the war, the United States built an airbase on Ascension Island, known as "Wideawake",[5] after a nearby colony of sooty terns (locally called 'wideawake' birds because of their loud, distinctive constant (day-and-night) cawing chatter.[12] The airbase, which was under construction by the 38th Combat Engineer Battalion of the Army Corps of Engineers, was unexpectedly visited by two British Fairey Swordfish torpedo planes on 15 June 1942.[citation needed] According to one of the pilots, Peter Jinks, the planes were fired upon before being recognised as allies. The Swordfish had to land on the unfinished airstrip, thus becoming the first aircraft to land on Ascension Island proper — which had long served as an ASW base for Catalina (PBY Catalina) flying boats. The event was commemorated with a postage stamp 15 June 1982. The airfield was used by the US military as a stopping point for American aircraft crossing the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
on the way to theatres of operation in Europe and Africa. American bombers based at Wideawake were engaged in the Laconia incident. After the end of World War II, and American departure, the airbase fell into disuse.

Ascension Island
Ascension Island
viewed from the south

The only local military action during World War II
World War II
occurred on 9 December 1941. At around mid-day, the German submarine U-124 approached Georgetown on the surface with the intention of sinking any ships at anchor or shelling the cable station.[citation needed] Fort Bedford, a two-gun shore battery at Cross Hill, above Georgetown, fired on the submarine. The guns scored no hits but the U-boat submerged and retreated. The battery remains largely intact to this day, together with its guns, BL 5.5 inch Mark I naval guns removed from HMS Hood during a refit in Malta in 1938. Later Military Involvement[edit] With the Space Race
Space Race
and the Cold War, the Americans returned in 1956.[5] Wideawake Airfield
Wideawake Airfield
expanded in the mid-1960s. The runway, with its strange hump, was extended, widened, and improved to allow its use by large aircraft, and later to act as an emergency runway for the Space Shuttle, although the Shuttle never had to use it.[5] At the time, it was the world's longest airport runway.[12] The United States Air Force used the island as part of its Eastern Range. NASA established a tracking station on the island in 1967, which it operated for more than 20 years before closing it down in 1990.[5] A joint Government Communications Headquarters
Government Communications Headquarters
and National Security Agency signals intercept station was also established on Ascension during the Cold War.[13][14] The island retains a role in space exploration: the European Space Agency
European Space Agency
now operates an Ariane monitoring facility there.[5] The BBC
Atlantic Relay Station was installed in 1966 for short-wave broadcasts to Africa and South America. In 1982 the British task force used Ascension Island
Ascension Island
as a staging post during the Falklands War. The Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
deployed a fleet of Vulcan bombers and Victor tankers at the airfield. Vulcans launched the opening shots of the British offensive from Ascension in Operation Black Buck. The RAF also used the base to supply the task force. Because of the increase in air traffic during the war, Wideawake, with up to 400 movements of all types each day, was one of the busiest airfields in the world for a short period.[15] The Royal Navy's fleet stopped at Ascension for refuelling on the way. Following the war, the British retained an increased presence on the island, establishing RAF Ascension Island, and providing a refuelling stop for the regular airlink between RAF Brize Norton
RAF Brize Norton
in Oxfordshire, and RAF Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands. Modern Use[edit]

Wideawake Airfield

As of 2004[update], it was reported that the Composite Signals Organisation, an arm of GCHQ, continued to operate a signals interception facility at Cat Hill on Ascension.[16] As of 2007[update] NASA
continued to list Ascension Island
Ascension Island
as a "downrange site" used for range safety instrumentation.[17] In particular, the Post-Detect Telemetry
System used to acquire launch vehicle telemetry includes a station on Ascension.[18] In 2008 British diplomats at the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UN CLCS), requested sovereignty over 77,220 square miles (200,000 km2) of submarine territory around the island. This would enable exploration into new reserves of oil, gas and minerals, though none are thought to exist.[19] In 2016, the United States Department of Energy started operating a mobile climate research facility on the island. It is operated by the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility
Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility
(ARM) near the South East Crater, south of the Green Mountain
Green Mountain
summit. The field campaign requires the mobile facility to be operational for about 17 months, until October 2017.[20] Geography[edit] See also: List of mountains and hills of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

Comfortless Cove

The main island has an area of approximately 88 km². A volcanic peak rising from only 100 km (62 mi) west of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, much of the island is a wasteland of lava flows and cinder cones; no fewer than forty-four distinct dormant craters have been identified.[9] Geology[edit] Ascension is a geologically young formation, the tip of an undersea volcano which rose above the waves only a million years ago. Although volcanic activity is mainly associated with the Mid-Atlantic Ridge plate boundary 80 km to the west, Ascension also displays some features which are commonly associated with hotspot volcanism. This appears to be the result of a smaller mantle plume that originally formed under the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, before the African plate, along with the Mid-Atlantic Ridge
Mid-Atlantic Ridge
itself, drifted eastward – leaving the (stationary) plume at its current location west of the ridge.[21] Its last eruption may have occurred in the sixteenth century. Due to its short above-water history, its soil consists mostly of clinker.[12] The island consists of a wide range of alkaline rocks atypical for oceanic islands, ranging from basalt through trachyandesite and trachyte to rhyolite.[21]

Black volcanic rocks

Climate[edit] Ascension has a hot desert climate (BWh, according to the Köppen climate classification). The temperatures at the coast average from 22.7 to 27.8 °C (72.9 to 82.0 °F), and about 5 to 6 °C (9 to 11 °F) cooler at the highest point. Rain showers may occur at any time during the year, but tend to be heavier between June and September. Although the island is in the tropical zone, average annual rainfall is very low. The cause of this might be the relatively low temperature of the ocean water, as the Benguela Current and South Equatorial Current
South Equatorial Current
flow northward west of Africa. These currents bring cooling effects around the eastern South Atlantic Ocean. Tropical cyclones also occur only rarely in the South Atlantic Ocean which might be caused by the same phenomenon, and by strong vertical wind shear.[22][23][24]

Climate data for Georgetown, Ascension Island

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year

Record high °C (°F) 31.7 (89.1) 31.7 (89.1) 31.7 (89.1) 32.2 (90) 31.7 (89.1) 30.6 (87.1) 30.6 (87.1) 28.9 (84) 28.9 (84) 28.9 (84) 30.0 (86) 30.6 (87.1) 32.2 (90)

Average high °C (°F) 28.3 (82.9) 29.4 (84.9) 30.0 (86) 30.0 (86) 28.9 (84) 27.8 (82) 27.2 (81) 26.1 (79) 26.1 (79) 26.1 (79) 26.7 (80.1) 27.2 (81) 27.8 (82)

Average low °C (°F) 22.8 (73) 23.9 (75) 24.4 (75.9) 24.4 (75.9) 23.9 (75) 22.8 (73) 22.2 (72) 21.1 (70) 21.1 (70) 21.1 (70) 22.2 (72) 22.6 (72.7) 22.7 (72.9)

Record low °C (°F) 18.9 (66) 20.0 (68) 21.1 (70) 20.6 (69.1) 19.4 (66.9) 19.4 (66.9) 19.4 (66.9) 18.3 (64.9) 17.2 (63) 18.3 (64.9) 17.8 (64) 17.8 (64) 17.2 (63)

Average precipitation mm (inches) 8 (0.31) 10 (0.39) 38 (1.5) 30 (1.18) 10 (0.39) 15 (0.59) 13 (0.51) 10 (0.39) 10 (0.39) 13 (0.51) 8 (0.31) 8 (0.31) 173 (6.78)

Average precipitation days (≥ 0.3 mm) 7 5 7 8 6 8 7 8 10 12 8 8 94

Average relative humidity (%) 74 73 73 73 70 69 69 70 73 73 72 73 71.8

Mean monthly sunshine hours 229 224 276 267 264 260 239 217 165 161 159 198 2,659

Source #1: Deutscher Wetterdienst[25]

Source #2: Danish Meteorological Institute[26]

Ecology[edit] Main article: Ascension scrub and grasslands Flora[edit]

The island viewed from atop Green Mountain, looking south towards Two Boats Village and Georgetown.

The endemic flora includes plants like Pteris adscensionis, Asplenium ascensionis, Euphorbia origanoides
Euphorbia origanoides
as well as the extinct species Oldenlandia adscensionis, Sporobolus durus
Sporobolus durus
and Dryopteris ascensionis. Anogramma ascensionis
Anogramma ascensionis
( Ascension Island
Ascension Island
parsley fern) was thought to have become extinct due to habitat loss, until four plants were found on the island in 2010. Over 60 specimens were then successfully cultivated.[27] Portuguese explorers released goats in the 1500s which ate many species to extinction. The later introduction of rabbits, sheep, rats and donkeys, and over 200 imported species further marginalised the original flora.[28] By 1843 the island was barren with few plants. However, due to the introduction of species by the British, Ascension Island's Green Mountain is now one of the few large-scale planned forests, and is gradually growing with each year. Its highest point is at 859 m.[9] Non-indigenous plants teem there, and the crown of Green Mountain
Green Mountain
is a lush halo of bamboo. Flanking one side is a large stand of tall Norfolk pine, trees planted by British mariners, which were to have been used as replacement masts for sailing ships. In June 2005 the first National Park on Ascension Island, the Green Mountain National Park, was opened. Prosopis juliflora, a type of mesquite known as Mexican thorn, was introduced by BBC
engineers to bind the dry top soil when they arrived in 1966 to construct a shortwave relay station. It has thrived on the barren lava of the island – an estimated 38,000 bushes existed by 2016. Its spread has been destructive to other species, and current encroachment on the edges of beaches threatens those that use this space, such as the green turtle. Its hardy taproots can extend to 30 meters deep. Local authorities are considering means of controlling or eradicating it.[12][29] Fauna[edit] A variety of mammals have been introduced: donkeys, sheep, cats and rats among others. Reptiles consist of two species of lizards. Endemic insect species include the minute, wingless Psocopteran Troglotroctes ashmolearum, that has been found in caves and between lava blocks.[30] In summer, flies are known to be a problem.


The largest native land animal is the land crab Johngarthia lagostoma (formerly Gecarcinus lagostoma).[31] Offshore, there is a variety of open-ocean fish, including sharks, wahoo, tuna, bonito, barracuda, marlin, blackfish and sailfish. The protected green turtle is perhaps the most notable of the endemic fauna, coming ashore to lay their eggs on the beaches from November to May. Turtles were regularly harvested until 1930, when the practice was banned. By 1970 the turtle population had begun to rebound.[12] From the 1970s, when records began, to 2014, green turtle nesting increased by 500 percent, resulting in some 24,000 nests being laid on the island's main beaches each year.[32] On land are found such non-native birds such as canaries, francolins, mynas, sparrows, and waxbills. Sooty terns or "wideawake birds" nest in great seashore lava "fairs". Other seabirds include some types of boobies, petrels, and tropicbirds (named boatswain, pronounced BO-sun birds, by the inhabitants of the island), white tern, brown noddy, black noddy and Ascension frigatebird. The Ascension crake
Ascension crake
became extinct around the beginning of the nineteenth century.[29] Off the east coast of Ascension is the islet of Boatswain Bird Island. It is a haven for sea birds providing refuge from the rats, cats and people that came to Ascension Island
Ascension Island
from Europe and Africa. Following a successful campaign headed by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the main island was in 2006 declared free of feral cats, and sea birds are now once again nesting on Ascension Island.[33] Important bird area[edit] Ascension Island, including fourteen inshore stacks and marine habitat extending out for three nautical miles from the coastline, has been identified as an Important Bird Area
Important Bird Area
(IBA) by BirdLife International as a breeding site for seabirds. Birds for which the IBA is significant include red-billed tropicbirds, Ascension frigatebirds (an endemic breeder), sooty terns and black noddies.[34] The island was formerly home to the endemic Ascension crake, but the species has been extinct since the early nineteenth century. Marine reserve[edit] In January 2016 the UK Government announced that an area around Ascension Island
Ascension Island
was to become a huge marine reserve, to protect its varied and unique ecosystem, including some of the largest marlin in the world, large populations of green turtle, and the island's own species of frigate bird. With an area of 234,291 square kilometres (90,460 sq mi), slightly more than half of the reserve will be closed to fishing while the remainder will be policed thanks to a grant from the Louis Bacon
Louis Bacon
Foundation. The reserve should be ready for formal designation by 2017.[35] Politics[edit] Ascension forms part of a British overseas territory
British overseas territory
together with Saint Helena
Saint Helena
and Tristan da Cunha.[9] Executive authority is vested in Elizabeth II,[9] who is represented by the Governor of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. As the Governor resides in Jamestown, Saint Helena, an Administrator is appointed to represent the Governor on Ascension Island.

Ascension Government House

As a result of changes in the constitutional arrangements for Ascension Island, the first Island Council of seven members was elected, and took office on 1 November 2002. This Council was dissolved by order of the Governor of Saint Helena
Saint Helena
on 24 October 2005, and a new election was held on 16 November 2005. 697 electors chose among ten candidates contesting the seven seats.[36] Six of the seven members resigned in January 2007 in the belief that they were "assisting to legitimise a democracy that doesn't really exist on Ascension Island".[37] The preceding quote and its citation does not exist, at least not at October 2017, but the following citation [38] of the councillors suggests the issue was over taxation/representation & it was 5 of 6 who resigned, and that it was not a boycott. The counter-argument being in essence that as the island has no indigenous population whatsoever, therefore it is an unusual political position. Consequently, a general election was called, but by the close of nominations, there were only two candidates. The election was abandoned, and the governor suspended the Island Council for 12 months. It was stated that an election would take place in April 2008 but following consultations this was extended to October.[39] With eight nominations the elections were duly held and seven candidates were elected to form a new Island Council, which was sworn in on 28 October 2008.[40][41] Ascension Island
Ascension Island
has its own local system of law, much of which is based on the laws of Saint Helena
Saint Helena
and some parts of English law with modifications.[9] The Island Council advises on new or revised laws. Where local legislation does not exist, Saint Helena
Saint Helena
law may be used where appropriate and suitable for local adaptation, or specific Ascension Island
Ascension Island
law is enacted. Employment legislation is a mixture of contract law and the Workmen's Protection Ordinance, which guarantees a contract, and obliges employers to provide free accommodation, medical cover, food (or a food allowance), and travel. The Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
Constitution Order 2009 was made by HM the Queen and the Privy Council on 8 July and came into operation in September 2009.[9] The new constitution replaced the 1988 version and among other changes limited the Governor's powers, included a Bill of Rights, established independence of the judiciary and the public service, and designated the Governor of St Helena as, concurrently, the Governor for Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. It ended the "dependency" status of Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
Tristan da Cunha
on Saint Helena
Saint Helena
that had been in place, for administrative convenience, since 1922.[42] Demographics[edit]

Georgetown seen here is the primary settlement on the island and comprises the post office, police station, court, government house and the island's supermarket. It also boasts the island's port: a small pier where supplies are off-loaded and a connection exists for a pipeline hose for fuel.

In the February 2016 census, 806 people were recorded living on Ascension Island, 556 from Saint Helena
Saint Helena
(nicknamed the "Saints"[43]) and 250 people of other nationalities.[1] RAF Ascension Island
RAF Ascension Island
is made up of 17 staff. There has never been an indigenous population on the island.[44] There are five settlements:

Georgetown (the main civilian settlement and capital of the island) Two Boats (a civilian village, with its school) Cat Hill (the United States' main base on the island) Traveller's Hill ( Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
base) Wideawake Airfield
Wideawake Airfield
(with the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force

Additionally, there are some cottages on Green Mountain, occasionally occupied by visitors, and the Residency, the official residence of the Administrator. To enter Ascension Island, individuals need the Administrator's written permission. There is no permanent residence. A contract of employment is a requirement to stay on the island,[43] though short term visits by tourists are possible with prior approval. The British government has confirmed that there is no "right of abode" on Ascension Island.[45] As the local newspaper The Islander reported at the time,[46][47] it was raised by some former Council members and 4 expatriate employees that whilst it was agreed there was no right of abode, the authorities had previously indicated it would consider changing the law to allow the rights of abode and property purchase, but decided not to do so.[48] Culture[edit] See also: Scouting
and Guiding on Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha There are Scouting
and Guiding groups on Saint Helena
Saint Helena
and Ascension Island. Scouting
was established on Ascension Island
Ascension Island
in November 1973,[49] having been established on St Helena island in 1912. Two Boats School is the only school on the island and provides education to all resident children aged 3–16. Economy[edit]

View of "The Pier" (1938)

The main economic activity on the island is centred on the military bases at Wideawake Airfield, and the BBC
World Service's Atlantic Relay station. The Ministry of Defence estate and facilities are managed by the infrastructure support provider Interserve
Defence. Serco
runs the airport services and Sodexo
provides catering and domestic facilities. A former feature of Ascension was a 70,000 tonne tanker permanently moored offshore that was operated by Maersk as a bulk fuel facility. In December 2002, this was replaced by an on-shore Petroleum Supply Depot under military management, with fuel still being delivered by a chartered tanker, the Maersk Rapier, which operates on an MOD resupply contract for both Ascension and the Falkland Islands
Falkland Islands
every two months. Fuel for the island is transferred via a floating hose, which is connected to the on-shore depot at the island's pier head and to the ship at anchor. The main export items are Ascension Island
Ascension Island
postage stamps, first issued in 1922, and, since 2010, commemorative coins (which are legal tender but non-circulating) and commercial fishing licences for long-line tuna fishing vessels operating to ICCAT quotas. A secondary export is the international internet domain code .ac, which small UK educational colleges and science museums are favouring due to its similarity to .ac.uk, the domain code reserved for well-established UK educational institutions. In December 2013, The Pirate Bay (one of the most well-known file piracy websites in the world) moved to .ac following the seizure of their .sx website. Tourism and related industries[edit]

Devil's Ashpit

Until 2002, tourism was virtually non-existent because of the inaccessibility of the island to transport, the absence of guest accommodation and the need for a sponsor. Limited air travel has, however, been made available in recent years to the public by the RAF, and the Georgetown Obsidian Hotel and a number of guest cottages have been opened. All visitors are required to obtain an entry permit before travelling. Sport fishing is the main attraction for many of the visitors. The island also boasts what is sometimes called the worst golf course in the world.[50] Communications[edit] See also: Communications in Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha The island hosts many communications and relay stations, exploiting its mid-Atlantic position. Both the BBC
and Cable & Wireless Worldwide (owned by Vodafone since 2012[51]) have communications posts there. The European Space Agency
European Space Agency
(ESA) also has a tracking station on the island that tracks the Ariane 5
Ariane 5
and the Soyuz rockets shortly after their launch from Kourou
in French Guiana. Ascension has one local radio station and one relayed from St. Helena. It also receives broadcasts from the British Forces Broadcasting Service and television services for the US military.[9] Ascension Island
Ascension Island
has the international calling code +247
and, from 1 June 2015 has five digit numbers (the old four-digit number prefixed by the digit “6”).[52] The island provided a base for a NASA
communications dish during the space race in the mid-twentieth century.[12] The island was chosen due to its central location in the Atlantic. Sites were chosen due to their proximity to orbital paths – generally along the Equator. Banking and currency[edit] The Bank of St. Helena
Bank of St. Helena
has a branch on the island; it holds an account with the UK's Lloyds Bank
Lloyds Bank
for the purposes of conducting money transfers with the rest of the world.[53] The currency on Ascension Island is the Saint Helena
Saint Helena
pound. Tristan da Cunha
Tristan da Cunha
however uses the pound sterling rather than the Saint Helena
Saint Helena
pound. The coins of the Saint Helena pound
Saint Helena pound
specify that they are for use on both Saint Helena and Ascension Island, but with no mention of Tristan da Cunha. For more information on currency in the wider region, see Pound sterling in the South Atlantic and the Antarctic. Transport[edit]

Ascension Island

In 2003 the British and US governments signed the Wideawake agreement designed to allow a limited number of non-scheduled civilian aircraft to land on Ascension Island, under responsibility of the British government.[54][55] Poor runway conditions at RAF Ascension Island
RAF Ascension Island
led in April 2017 to the cancellation of twice-weekly flights from there to the UK (RAF Brize Norton) and to the Falkland Islands
Falkland Islands
(RAF Mount Pleasant). An Airbus A330
Airbus A330
aircraft operated by AirTanker Services
AirTanker Services
on behalf of the Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
carried out those flights, called the South Atlantic Air Bridge, although a limited number of commercial passenger tickets were available. Those flights now travel via Cape Verde.[56] The RMS St. Helena
RMS St. Helena
ship cancelled its operations in February 2018 because the Saint Helena
Saint Helena
Airport took over passenger and mail transport. Instead the main option for civilians to travel to and from the island is the flights to and from Saint Helena
Saint Helena
Airport, once per month. While A330s are for now unable to land at the airport, the United States military uses Air Transport International flying 757 "combi" jets to maintain a twice monthly flight between the island and Patrick Air Force Base in Florida
for the use of its personnel only, while the (MV Ascension) supply ship regularly services US facilities. A C17 for the UK's MoD lands there at Ascension once a month for its own personnel.[56] There is no taxi service on the island and most visitors requiring transport hire a car. There are around 40 kilometres (25 mi) of roads on the island, all hard-surfaced.[9] Some of the surfacing used surplus tarmac from construction of the airstrip.[43] Traffic drives on the left.[43] See also[edit]

Geography portal Africa portal United Kingdom
United Kingdom
portal British Empire
British Empire

Outline of Ascension Island Index of Ascension Island-related articles Diocese of St Helena Diego Garcia Saint Helena Tristan da Cunha


^ a b "Census 2016 – summary report" (PDF). St Helena Government. June 2016. p. 9. Retrieved 23 January 2017.  ^ "The St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
Tristan da Cunha
Constitution Order 2009".  ^ Victory at Sea (Series title), Volume-10 "Beneath the Southern Cross" 1952 production of NBC, (Disc 2 of DVD collection reproduction ca. 2007-2008) ^ Garcia, Mark (2016-08-11). "Searching for "Space Junk" in Paradise". Retrieved 2016-08-14.  ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Ascension History". mysterra.org. Mysterra Magazine. Retrieved 3 January 2011.  ^ Duff Hart-Davis, Ascension, the story of a South Atlantic island. ^ see Carl Friedrich Behrens, Reise durch die Sued-Laender und um die Welt (1737), p. 250, who wrote that various criminal mariners had been exiled to the island; also in Alex Ritsema A Dutch Castaway on Ascension Island
Ascension Island
in 1725 (2010), pp. 26, 115-117. ^ [PDF] - Sodomy
Punish'd -The MAN & Other Families ^ a b c d e f g h i "Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha". The World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. Archived from the original on 28 December 2010. Retrieved 3 January 2011.  ^ Keynes 2001, pp. 431–432 ^ "Charles Darwin's ecological experiment on Ascension isle". BBC News. 1 September 2010. Archived from the original on 1 September 2010. Retrieved 1 September 2010.  Wilkinson, David M. (2003). "The parable of Green Mountain: Ascension Island, ecosystem construction and ecological fitting". Journal of Biogeography. 31: 1–4. doi:10.1046/j.0305-0270.2003.01010.x.  ^ a b c d e f BBC
News, The island where nothing makes sense, 19 April 2016 ^ Aldrich, Richard (2010). GCHQ: The Uncensored Story of Britain's Most Secret Intelligence Agency. London: HarperPress. ISBN 9780007357123.  ^ Bamford, James (2008). Body Of Secrets. New York: Random House. p. 168. ISBN 9781407009209.  ^ "Part 19. Ascension Island
Ascension Island
- Stepping Stone to Victory". Naval History. Retrieved 17 October 2017.  ^ "Settlers wanted for a quiet life. No rush". The Telegraph. 5 April 2004. Retrieved 4 March 2013.  ^ " NASA
Range Safety Program – 2007 Annual Report" (PDF). NASA. p. 60.  ^ " NASA
Range Safety Program – 2007 Annual Report" (PDF). NASA. p. 62.  ^ Lewis, Paul (28 August 2008). "Ascension Island. Barren, 4,044 miles (6,508 km) from Land's End, but ours says the FO". The Guardian. London. p. 1. Archived from the original on 31 August 2008. Retrieved 28 August 2008.  ^ "ARM - Field Campaign - LASIC: Layered Atlantic Smoke Interactions with Clouds". www.arm.gov. Retrieved 2016-05-01.  ^ a b "The geology of Ascension Island". Ascension Island
Ascension Island
Volcanology. 2017-10-25. Retrieved 2018-01-05.  ^ "The South Equatorial Current
South Equatorial Current
System". oceancurrents.rsmas.miami.edu. Retrieved 2016-04-27.  ^ "The Benguela Current". oceancurrents.rsmas.miami.edu. Retrieved 2016-04-27.  ^ "TCFAQ G6) Why doesn't the South Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
experience tropical". www.aoml.noaa.gov. Retrieved 2016-04-28.  ^ "Klimatafel von Georgetown (Flugh.), Insel Ascension / Südatlantik / Großbritannien" (PDF). Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. Retrieved 4 November 2016.  ^ "STATIONSNUMMER 61902" (PDF). Ministry of Energy, Utilities and Climate. Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 January 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2016.  ^ Gill, Victoria (24 June 2010). "Experts rediscover plant presumed extinct for 60 years". BBC
News. Archived from the original on 17 July 2010. Retrieved 19 July 2010.  ^ "native flora" (PDF).  ^ a b " Bermuda
Conference, Procedure Point 5b" (PDF).  ^ Lienhard, 1996, Psocoptères nouveaux ou peu connus de quelques îles atlantiques (Canaries, Madère, Açores, Ascension) et de l'Afrique du Nord (Insecta: Psocoptera), Boletim do Museu Municipal do Funchal (Historia Natural) 48(267) ^ Richard G. Hartnoll; Annette C. Broderick; Brendan J. Godley; Kate E. Saunders (2009). "Population structure of the land crab Johngarthia lagostoma on Ascension Island" (pdf]). Journal of Crustacean Biology. 29 (1): 57–61. doi:10.1651/08-2992.1. [permanent dead link] ^ "Scientists: Number of Green Turtles Increases More than 500%". 2 August 2014.  ^ Jorge. "Stray pets". Retrieved 3 January 2016.  ^ "Ascension Island: mainland and stacks". Important Bird Areas factsheet. BirdLife International. 2012. Archived from the original on 10 July 2007. Retrieved 25 October 2012.  ^ " Ascension Island
Ascension Island
to become marine reserve". BBC. Retrieved 3 January 2016.  ^ Juanita Brock, Ascension: Ascension Island
Ascension Island
Votes for Councillors ^ " Ascension Island
Ascension Island
News for October 2015 from The Islander Newspaper". Retrieved 3 January 2016.  ^ "Uncorrected Evidence 57". publications.parliament.uk.  ^ " Ascension Island
Ascension Island
Council".  ^ http://www.the-islander.org.ac/art_5987_22_370_1.html http://www.the-islander.org.ac/art_5867_22_377_1.html ^ See http://www.the-islander.org.ac/ ^ " Ascension Island
Ascension Island
News for October 2015 from The Islander Newspaper". Retrieved 3 January 2016.  ^ a b c d "Ascension Population". mysterra.org. Mysterra Magazine. Retrieved 3 January 2011.  ^ "The Island". 17 December 2012.  ^ "CONSTITUTION OF ST HELENA, ASCENSION AND TRISTAN DA CUNHA DRAFT FOR PUBLIC CONSULTATION OF 25 June 2008". Retrieved 3 June 2009.  ^ "FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE — SELECT COMMITTEE ANNOUNCEMENT (4 July 2008)". Retrieved 3 June 2009.  ^ "Letter's To FCO From Cyril Leo". Retrieved 3 June 2009.  ^ "Ascension workers know the reality, says administrator". 16 September 2013.  ^ The Ascension Island
Ascension Island
Newspaper November 1998 ^ "Travel news, photos, flight status, trip booking and more". MSN Travel. Retrieved 3 January 2016.  ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 June 2013. Retrieved 2013-07-02.  ^ "International Telecommunication Union Directory" (PDF).  ^ "the Bank of St. Helena".  ^ "AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND AND THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA CONCERNING THE USE OF WIDEAWAKE AIRFIELD ON ASCENSION ISLAND BY CIVIL AIRCRAFT NOT ENGAGED IN SCHEDULED INTERNATIONAL AIR SERVICES." 1 October 2003. United Nations Treaty Collection, Volume 2270, I-40420. Retrieved 10 August 2010. ^ "Information for Aviators" Ascension Island
Ascension Island
Government. Retrieved 10 August 2010. ^ a b Leithead, Alastair (4 July 2017). "Ascension: The increasingly unreachable island" – via www.bbc.co.uk. 

Keynes, Richard (2001), Charles Darwin's Beagle Diary, Cambridge University Press, archived from the original on 18 September 2010, retrieved 19 September 2010 


Duff Hart-Davis, Ascension, the story of a South Atlantic island, p. 15 Correspondent's diary: Ascension Island
Ascension Island
The Economist Official Ascension Island
Ascension Island
Government site Global Volcanism Program: Ascension Island Sanders, Sarah, Important Bird Areas in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Overseas Territories; priority sites for conservation (RSPB, 2006) Stonehouse, Bernard. (1960). Wideawake Island. The Story of the BOU Centenary Expedition to Ascension. Hutchinson: London Duff Hart-Davis, The Spectator 17 October 2015, "The Stone Frigate Sails On", p. 16.

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ascension Island.

Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Ascension.

Ascension Island
Ascension Island
Government Ascension Island
Ascension Island
Newsletter Ascension Conservation Rocket launches from Ascension Detailed description of the BBC
Atlantic Relay Station CIA World Factbook entry about Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha Live Web Cam of Ascension Colonial History of Ascension Island Google Satellite View Ascension Island
Ascension Island
at Britlink – British Islands & Territories Army Ornithological Society Ascension Island
Ascension Island
Research Ascension Island
Ascension Island
& St Helena community website James Rogers and Luis Simón. Isla Ascensión o Ascension island(Spanish) The Status and Location of the Military Installations of the Member States of the European Union and Their Potential Role for the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). Brussels: European Parliament, 2009. 25 pp.

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 Ascension Island

v t e

British overseas territory
British overseas territory
of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

 Saint Helena

Jamestown (capital) Half Tree Hollow Saint Paul's Longwood Alarm Forest Saint Helena
Saint Helena

 Ascension Island

Georgetown (chief settlement) Cat Hill Two Boats Village RAF Ascension Island

 Tristan da Cunha

Edinburgh of the Seven Seas Gough Island Inaccessible Island Nightingale Islands

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British Empire

Legend Current territory Former territory * Now a Commonwealth realm Now a member of the Commonwealth of Nations Historical flags of the British Empire


1542–1800 Ireland (integrated into UK) 1708–1757, 1763–1782 and 1798–1802 Minorca Since 1713 Gibraltar 1800–1813 Malta (Protectorate) 1813–1964 Malta (Colony) 1807–1890 Heligoland 1809–1864 Ionian Islands 1878–1960 Cyprus 1921–1937 Irish Free State

North America

17th century and before 18th century 19th and 20th century

1579 New Albion 1583–1907 Newfoundland 1605–1979 *Saint Lucia 1607–1776 Virginia Since 1619 Bermuda 1620–1691 Plymouth 1623–1883 Saint Kitts 1624–1966 *Barbados 1625–1650 Saint Croix 1627–1979 *Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 1628–1883 Nevis 1629–1691 Massachusetts Bay 1632–1776 Maryland since 1632 Montserrat 1632–1860 Antigua 1635–1644 Saybrook 1636–1776 Connecticut 1636–1776 Rhode Island 1637–1662 New Haven

1643–1860 Bay Islands Since 1650 Anguilla 1655–1850 Mosquito Coast 1655–1962 *Jamaica 1663–1712 Carolina 1664–1776 New York 1665–1674 and 1702–1776 New Jersey Since 1666 Virgin Islands Since 1670 Cayman Islands 1670–1973 *Bahamas 1670–1870 Rupert's Land 1671–1816 Leeward Islands 1674–1702 East Jersey 1674–1702 West Jersey 1680–1776 New Hampshire 1681–1776 Pennsylvania 1686–1689 New England 1691–1776 Massachusetts Bay

1701–1776 Delaware 1712–1776 North Carolina 1712–1776 South Carolina 1713–1867 Nova Scotia 1733–1776 Georgia 1754–1820 Cape Breton Island 1762–1974 *Grenada 1763–1978 Dominica 1763–1873 Prince Edward Island 1763–1791 Quebec 1763–1783 East Florida 1763–1783 West Florida 1784–1867 New Brunswick 1791–1841 Lower Canada 1791–1841 Upper Canada Since 1799 Turks and Caicos Islands

1818–1846 Columbia District/Oregon Country1 1833–1960 Windward Islands 1833–1960 Leeward Islands 1841–1867 Canada 1849–1866 Vancouver Island 1853–1863 Queen Charlotte Islands 1858–1866 British Columbia 1859–1870 North-Western Territory 1860–1981 *British Antigua
and Barbuda 1862–1863 Stickeen 1866–1871 British Columbia 1867–1931 * Dominion
of Canada2 1871–1964 Honduras 1882–1983 * Saint Kitts
Saint Kitts
and Nevis 1889–1962 Trinidad and Tobago 1907–1949 Newfoundland3 1958–1962 West Indies Federation

1. Occupied jointly with the United States. 2. In 1931, Canada and other British dominions obtained self-government through the Statute of Westminster. See Name of Canada. 3. Gave up self-rule in 1934, but remained a de jure Dominion until it joined Canada in 1949.

South America

1631–1641 Providence Island 1651–1667 Willoughbyland 1670–1688 Saint Andrew and Providence Islands4 1831–1966 Guiana Since 1833 Falkland Islands5 Since 1908 South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands5

4. Now a department of Colombia. 5. Occupied by Argentina during the Falklands War
Falklands War
of April–June 1982.


17th and 18th centuries 19th century 20th century

Since 1658 Saint Helena14 1792–1961 Sierra Leone 1795–1803 Cape Colony

Since 1815 Ascension Island14 Since 1816 Tristan da Cunha14 1806–1910 Cape of Good Hope 1807–1808 Madeira 1810–1968 Mauritius 1816–1965 The Gambia 1856–1910 Natal 1862–1906 Lagos 1868–1966 Basutoland 1874–1957 Gold Coast 1882–1922 Egypt

1884–1900 Niger Coast 1884–1966 Bechuanaland 1884–1960 Somaliland 1887–1897 Zululand 1890–1962 Uganda 1890–1963 Zanzibar 1891–1964 Nyasaland 1891–1907 Central Africa 1893–1968 Swaziland 1895–1920 East Africa 1899–1956 Sudan

1900–1914 Northern Nigeria 1900–1914 Southern Nigeria 1900–1910 Orange River 1900–1910 Transvaal 1903–1976 Seychelles 1910–1931 South Africa 1914–1960 Nigeria 1915–1931 South-West Africa 1919–1961 Cameroons6 1920–1963 Kenya 1922–1961 Tanganyika6 1923–1965 and 1979–1980 Southern Rhodesia7 1924–1964 Northern Rhodesia

6. League of Nations mandate. 7. Self-governing Southern Rhodesia
Southern Rhodesia
unilaterally declared independence in 1965 (as Rhodesia) and continued as an unrecognised state until the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement. After recognised independence in 1980, Zimbabwe was a member of the Commonwealth until it withdrew in 2003.


17th and 18th century 19th century 20th century

1685–1824 Bencoolen 1702–1705 Pulo Condore 1757–1947 Bengal 1762–1764 Manila and Cavite 1781–1784 and 1795–1819 Padang 1786–1946 Penang 1795–1948 Ceylon 1796–1965 Maldives

1811–1816 Java 1812–1824 Banka and Billiton 1819–1826 Malaya 1824–1948 Burma 1826–1946 Straits Settlements 1839–1967 Aden 1839–1842 Afghanistan 1841–1997 Hong Kong 1841–1946 Sarawak 1848–1946 Labuan 1858–1947 India 1874–1963 Borneo

1879–1919 Afghanistan (protectorate) 1882–1963 North Borneo 1885–1946 Unfederated Malay States 1888–1984 Brunei 1891–1971 Muscat and Oman 1892–1971 Trucial States 1895–1946 Federated Malay States 1898–1930 Weihai 1878–1960 Cyprus

1907–1949 Bhutan (protectorate) 1918–1961 Kuwait 1920–1932 Mesopotamia8 1921–1946 Transjordan8 1923–1948 Palestine8 1945–1946 South Vietnam 1946–1963 North Borneo 1946–1963 Sarawak 1946–1963 Singapore 1946–1948 Malayan Union 1948–1957 Federation of Malaya Since 1960 Akrotiri and Dhekelia
Akrotiri and Dhekelia
(before as part of Cyprus) Since 1965 British Indian Ocean Territory
British Indian Ocean Territory
(before as part of Mauritius and the Seychelles)

8 League of Nations mandate. Iraq's mandate was not enacted and replaced by the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty


18th and 19th centuries 20th century

1788–1901 New South Wales 1803–1901 Van Diemen's Land/Tasmania 1807–1863 Auckland Islands9 1824–1980 New Hebrides 1824–1901 Queensland 1829–1901 Swan River/Western Australia 1836–1901 South Australia since 1838 Pitcairn Islands

1841–1907 New Zealand 1851–1901 Victoria 1874–1970 Fiji10 1877–1976 Western Pacific Territories 1884–1949 Papua 1888–1901 Rarotonga/Cook Islands9 1889–1948 Union Islands9 1892–1979 Gilbert and Ellice Islands11 1893–1978 Solomon Islands12

1900–1970 Tonga 1900–1974 Niue9 1901–1942 *Australia 1907–1947 *New Zealand 1919–1942 and 1945–1968 Nauru 1919–1949 New Guinea 1949–1975 Papua and New Guinea13

9. Now part of the *Realm of New Zealand. 10. Suspended member. 11. Now Kiribati
and *Tuvalu. 12. Now the *Solomon Islands. 13. Now *Papua New Guinea.

Antarctica and South Atlantic

Since 1658 Saint Helena14 Since 1815 Ascension Island14 Since 1816 Tristan da Cunha14 Since 1908 British Antarctic Territory15 1841–1933 Australian Antarctic Territory
Australian Antarctic Territory
(transferred to the Commonwealth of Australia) 1841–1947 Ross Dependency
Ross Dependency
(transferred to the Realm of New Zealand)

14. Since 2009 part of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; Ascension Island
Ascension Island
(1922–) and Tristan da Cunha
Tristan da Cunha
(1938–) were previously dependencies of Saint Helena. 15. Both claimed in 1908; territories formed in 1962 (British Antarctic Territory) and 1985 (South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands).

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British people

Anglosphere English language English-speaking world British diaspora

Anglo-Irish Anguillans Ascension Islanders Bermudians British Virgin Islanders Caymanians Chagossians
(Îlois) Channel Islanders Cornish English Falkland Islanders Gibraltarians Hongkongers (British Nationals (Overseas)) Manx Montserratians Northern Irish Orcadians Pitcairn Islanders Saint Helenians Scots Shetlanders Tristan Islanders Turks and Caicos Islanders Ulster Protestants Ulster Scots Welsh

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 154765323 GND: 4086002-4 BNF: