The economy of Saint Helena is based on export income from coffee, tourism,
fishing Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish. Fish are often caught in the wild but may also be caught from stocked bodies of water. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping. "Fishing" may ...

, and sales of alcoholic liqueurs. Unemployment is very low in
Saint Helena Saint Helena () is a British possession located in the South Atlantic Ocean. It consists of a remote volcanic tropical island lying some 1,950 kilometres (1,210 mi) west of the coast of southwestern Africa, and east of Rio de Janeiro on th ...
; the February 2016 Census stated that 76 people declared that they were unemployed (with 10 claiming unemployment benefit) compared to an economically active population of 2,539 and a total population of 4,534. Saint Helena is one of four countries which depend on financial assistance from the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shortha ...
, which amounted to about £22.5 million in 2016/17. This supplements the £12.6 million raised from local tax revenues. The
international airport An international airport is an airport with customs and border control facilities enabling passengers to travel between countries. International airports are usually larger than domestic airports and often feature longer runways and facilities ...
has been open for private jets and Medivac services since 2016. A scheduled commercial air service began in October 2017. With a total investment of £285m the airport is the largest single investment ever made in the island. Until 2016, the only way to reach the island was by boat. The last working Royal Mail Ship made its final voyage serving St Helena in 2018. Saint Helena's
gross domestic product Gross domestic product (GDP) is a monetary measure of the market value of all the final goods and services produced in a specific time period. GDP (nominal) per capita does not, however, reflect differences in the cost of living and the inflation ...
(GDP) for the 2018/19 financial year was £38.5 million and GDP per capita was £7,392 and GNP per capita was £8,230. In 2019, there was an annual rate of inflation of 3.3% and a median employment income was £8,410. The major private sector employers of the islands are Solomons and Co and Thorpes, both providing services in almost all sectors. The government's economic development priorities are developing a
sustainable tourism Sustainable tourism is the tourism that takes full account of its current and future economic, social and environmental impacts, addressing the needs of visitors, the industry, the environment and host communities. Tourism can involve primary tran ...
industry and reducing dependency on imports.


Saint Helena has several sectors in its economy: fisheries, agriculture (including coffee), construction, retail, and accommodation and food service industries.


In 2016, Saint Helena had a workforce of 2,539. Many St Helenians take up jobs in
Ascension Island Ascension Island is an isolated volcanic island, 7°56′ south of the Equator in the South Atlantic Ocean. It is about from the coast of Africa and from the coast of Brazil. It is governed as part of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Hel ...
, the
Falklands The Falkland Islands (; es, Islas Malvinas, ) is an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean on the Patagonian Shelf. The principal islands are about east of South America's southern Patagonian coast and about from the northern tip of the A ...
and the UK.


75% of St Helena's power currently comes from 6 diesel generators, but the island is working towards a
100% renewable energy in California: The facility's three towers. File:Bp world energy consumption 2016.gif, Comparing trends in worldwide energy use, the growth of renewable energy to 2015 is the green line 100% renewable energy is where all energy use is sourced ...
target. There are currently 12 wind turbines grouped on the Deadwood Plain in Longwood, which generate approximately 20% of the island's needs and several photovoltaic arrays which provide the balance. The rifle range solar farm in Half Tree Hollow currently has the largest output of the solar systems with 500 kWh.


The main agricultural products of Saint Helena are:
coffee Coffee is a brewed drink prepared from roasted coffee beans, the seeds of berries from certain ''Coffea'' species. When coffee berries turn from green to bright red in color – indicating ripeness – they are picked, processed, and ...
fish Fish are aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack limbs with digits. They form a sister group to the tunicates, together forming the olfactores. Included in this definition are the living hagfish, lampreys, and cartilaginous and bony ...
(predominately tuna),
potato The potato is a root vegetable native to the Americas, a starchy tuber of the plant ''Solanum tuberosum'', and the plant itself is a perennial in the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Wild potato species, originating in modern-day Peru, can be fou ...
vegetable Vegetables are parts of plants that are consumed by humans or other animals as food. The original meaning is still commonly used and is applied to plants collectively to refer to all edible plant matter, including the flowers, fruits, stems, l ...
timber Lumber, also known as timber, is a type of wood that has been processed into beams and planks, a stage in the process of wood production. Lumber is mainly used for structural purposes but has many other uses as well. There are two main types ...



Since the opening of the airport to regular commercial air traffic in 2017, the tourism sector has seen growth. There were 1,350 tourists visiting the island in 2017 and 2,485 in 2019, an increase of over 80% with almost all of the visitors arriving by air. There has been a corresponding steady increase of tourist rooms and other tourism-related infrastructure. Tourism is the largest export sector, valued at 5 to 6 million a year. In 2020, the international closures resulting from
COVID-19 pandemic The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as the coronavirus pandemic, is an ongoing global pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The virus was first identified in Dec ...
halted tourism at end of the high season.


The 2019–20 customs data shows the following exports: *Fisheries (83% of export economy) *Coffee (17% of export economy) In 2019, export of products totalled £354,000.


Food and other goods are imported from Cape Town, South Africa and the UK (via Ascension). Shipping is run by AW Ship Management Ltd. Packages can be sent via Rich James International or by Royal H.M. Mail (by Royal Mail anything under 2kg will go by air). Wharf services are provided by Solomons. The trade deficit is significant. In 2019/20 St Helena imported £19.8m in goods, mostly purchased from South Africa (46%) and the United Kingdom (41%).


The local currency is the
Saint Helena pound The Saint Helena pound is the currency of the Atlantic islands of Saint Helena and Ascension, which are constituent parts of the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. It is fixed at parity with the British pou ...
, which is at a par with the
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. The government issues its own coins and banknotes. British pounds are accepted in Saint Helena. Banking services on Saint Helena are provided by the Bank of St. Helena, which delivers a retail banking service to individuals and business in, and trading with, Saint Helena. There is no ATM on the island, so cash must be withdrawn from the Bank of Saint Helena cashiers in Jamestown (Monday-Saturday) or at Customs at the wharf (Thursday-Friday). Trials of local debit cards by the bank of Saint Helena began in 2016.


In 1957 the price of land on the island was thought to be between £10 and £15 an acre. Eggs were 3 shillings a dozen and bread was 6d for a 1 1/2lb loaf. {{cite web , title=Advice to Europeans in 1957 , url=https://sthelenablog.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/advice-to-europeans-st-h-1956.pdf , website=St Helena Blog , access-date=6 March 2020

See also

*Saint Helena Airport


External links

Bank of Saint Helena
Economy of Saint Helena,