St. Helena was discovered May 21, 1502 , by the Portuguese navigator
Joćo da Nova . The island was uninhabited when it was discovered by
the Portuguese explorers. It was settled about
1645 by the Dutch . In 1651 , it passed to the British East
India Company , but was retaken by the Dutch
Like every remote island in the age of sail , it was a crucial
resource for sailing ships that ventured into its waters. (The
important ships among these were of naval and commercial nature.)
Its position on the only practical route, until construction of the
Suez Canal , between Western Europe to the Indian Ocean enhanced
that general role. It became a British military garrison for those
reasons. Napoleon Bonaparte lived in exile there from 1815 to 1821.
He died on May 5, 1821. His archenemy, Wellington , had spent a
short time there in 1805, on his way home from India; he was
delighted with the climate. Prominent Anglo- Boer Warprisoners,
including General Piet Cronje , were also detained on St. Helena.