The Decline and Fall of the British Empire Part 3: Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

Saint Helena from space

Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha

This state has a population of just 7,728. It developed a new constitution in 2009, and it’s in the middle of the Atlantic. Compared to the places we’ve already spoken about, it’s quite dull. Witness Ascension Island’s newspaper, The Islander. I especially like this enigmatic message.

The islands are strategically valuable, especially Ascension Island, which has an air-base. The UK has £19 million (around £2500 per head) invested in the islands, with plans to build an airport and a boat to deliver the post. That accounts for 64% of the islands total budget.

With such a reliance on the British, I can’t see much prospect of independence. I mean, Saint Helena is dependent on British money and Ascesion relies on the British and American militaries. But there are conflicts within the country itself. According to Wikipedia (and sorry for using such a lousy source), Ascension Islands first island council in 2002 was dissolved by the government in Saint Helena. The Ascension Islanders mostly boycotted the next election and by 2009 they had had to introduce a new constitution recognizing the three islands as equal partners. It all seems very civil, but a change in the islands could affect Britain’s relationship with them


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