The Island of St Helena, just 47 square miles in area, is a tropical oasis in the open desert of the South Atlantic Ocean, 700 miles from its nearest neighbour, the even smaller island of Ascension, and 1100 miles from the nearest continental land, the West African coast. There is no airport, and only one ship, the RMS St Helena, runs a scheduled service carrying cargo and passengers between the UK and South Africa.

The world remembers St Helena because Napoleon Bonaparte died there in exile, but few people know much more about it. In 1979 the German magazine GEO assigned me to show the way of life of the roughly 5500 inhabitants. This selection of pictures concentrates on the people and ignores the Napoleonic heritage.