Consisting of only 47 square miles, the Island of Saint Helena sits about 1200 miles due West from Angola. It is one of the remotest places on Earth. 700 miles from the ‘nearest’ habitation on the island of Ascension, European colonists first discovered Saint Helena on 21st May 1502, St. Helena's Day, by the Portuguese navigator, Juan da Nova Castella. In 1659, having realised the Island's strategic value, The English East India Company established a settlement under the command of Captain John Dutton, the first Governor.
Under his direction the building of the first small fort, later named James Fort, was considered sufficient to defend the Island from attack. Both the Fort and the natural defences were not formidable enough to prevent invasion by the Dutch but, after re-taking the Island in 1673, the East India Company continued fortifying the island. By the mid 18th century St. Helena had become a fortress.
Following Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo the British selected the island as the most suitable place for his incarceration, and took ownership from the East India Company.