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The island at the end of the world

Jamestown - St Helena, a tiny, little-known British outpost lies about 1 900km northwest of Cape Town.

The island, about 121 square kilometres, is hoping to draw more tourists on completion of its first airport in two years’ time.

St Helena remains one of the world's most remote inhabited islands but that has changed now.

Until then St Helena remains one of the world’s most remote inhabited islands – a five-day journey at sea from Cape Town.

Currently the 155-berth RMS St Helena – one of the world’s last working Royal Mail Ships – is the only regular way of reaching the island, and is a vital lifeline for supplies.

The airport is being developed by South African engineering firm Basil Read at a cost of £201.5-million (R3.4-billion), and 10 years of operation has been granted by the British government to Lanseria Airport in Gauteng.

The island has significant historical credentials – Napoleon Bonaparte was banished to St Helena after his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, and he arguably put this remote island on the map. Tourists can visit Bonaparte’s residence, Longwood House, which is filled with his memorabilia (death mask, portraits, furniture), as well as his tomb.

The island is also home to the world’s oldest tortoise, extensive (and largely untouched) Georgian architecture and, despite its isolation, a quintessentially British way of life.

St Helena is also a walker’s paradise, grows some of the most sought-after coffee and is home to at least 40 species of plants unknown anywhere else in the world. - Weekend Argus

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