Saint Helena

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PAGE LAST UPDATED ON NOVEMBER 10, 2011
Flag of Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha
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Location of Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha
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Map of Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha
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Photos of Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha
 
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OF SAINT HELENA, ASCENSION, AND TRISTAN DA CUNHA
 

Introduction

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Saint Helena is a British Overseas Territory consisting of Saint Helena and Ascension Islands, and the island group of Tristan da Cunha.
Saint Helena: Uninhabited when first discovered by the Portuguese in 1502, Saint Helena was garrisoned by the British during the 17th century. It acquired fame as the place of Napoleon BONAPARTE's exile from 1815 until his death in 1821, but its importance as a port of call declined after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869. During the Anglo-Boer War in South Africa, several thousand Boer prisoners were confined on the island between 1900 and 1903.
Ascension Island: This barren and uninhabited island was discovered and named by the Portuguese in 1503. The British garrisoned the island in 1815 to prevent a rescue of Napoleon from Saint Helena. It served as a provisioning station for the Royal Navy's West Africa Squadron on anti-slavery patrol. The island remained under Admiralty control until 1922, when it became a dependency of Saint Helena. During World War II, the UK permitted the US to construct an airfield on Ascension in support of trans-Atlantic flights to Africa and anti-submarine operations in the South Atlantic. In the 1960s the island became an important space tracking station for the US. In 1982, Ascension was an essential staging area for British forces during the Falklands War. It remains a critical refueling point in the air-bridge from the UK to the South Atlantic.
Tristan da Cunha: The island group consists of the islands of Tristan da Cunha, Nightingale, Inaccessible, and Gough. Tristan da Cunha is named after its Portuguese discoverer (1506); it was garrisoned by the British in 1816 to prevent any attempt to rescue Napoleon from Saint Helena. Gough and Inaccessible Islands have been designated World Heritage Sites. South Africa leases a site for a meteorological station on Gough Island.
 
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Geography

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islands in the South Atlantic Ocean, about midway between South America and Africa; Ascension Island lies 700 nm northwest of Saint Helena; Tristan da Cunha lies 2,300 nm southwest of Saint Helena
 
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Saint Helena: 15 57 S, 5 42 W
Ascension Island: 7 57 S, 14 22 W
Tristan da Cunha island group: 37 15 S, 12 30 W
 
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total: 308 sq km
country comparison to the world: 209
land: Saint Helena Island 122 sq km; Ascension Island 88 sq km; Tristan da Cunha island group 98 sq km
water: 0 sq km
 
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slightly more than twice the size of Washington, DC
 
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0 km
 
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Saint Helena: 60 km
Ascension Island: NA
Tristan da Cunha: 40 km
 
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territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive fishing zone: 200 nm
 
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Saint Helena: tropical marine; mild, tempered by trade winds
Ascension Island: tropical marine; mild, semi-arid
Tristan da Cunha: temperate marine; mild, tempered by trade winds (tends to be cooler than Saint Helena)
 
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the islands of this group result from volcanic activity associated with the Atlantic Mid-Ocean Ridge
Saint Helena: rugged, volcanic; small scattered plateaus and plains
Ascension: surface covered by lava flows and cinder cones of 44 dormant volcanoes; ground rises to the east
Tristan da Cunha: sheer cliffs line the coastline of the nearly circular island; the flanks of the central volcanic peak are deeply dissected; narrow coastal plain lies between The Peak and the coastal cliffs
 
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lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Queen Mary's Peak on Tristan da Cunha 2,060 m; Green Mountain on Ascension Island 859 m; Mount Actaeon on Saint Helena Island 818 m
 
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fish, lobster
 
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arable land: 12.9%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 87.1% (2005)
 
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NA
 
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active volcanism on Tristan da Cunha
volcanism: the island volcanoes of Tristan da Cunha (elev. 2,060 m) and Nightingale Island (elev. 365 m) experience volcanic activity; Tristan da Cunha erupted in 1962 and Nightingale in 2004
 
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NA
 
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Saint Helena harbors at least 40 species of plants unknown elsewhere in the world; Ascension is a breeding ground for sea turtles and sooty terns; Queen Mary's Peak on Tristan da Cunha is the highest island mountain in the South Atlantic and a prominent landmark on the sea lanes around southern Africa
 
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People and Society

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noun: Saint Helenian(s)
adjective: Saint Helenian
note: referred to locally as "Saints"
 
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African descent 50%, white 25%, Chinese 25%
 
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English
 
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Protestant (Anglican (majority), Baptist, Seventh-Day Adventist), Roman Catholic
 
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7,700 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 227
note: only Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha islands are inhabited
 
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0-14 years: 17.8% (male 697/female 671)
15-64 years: 70% (male 2,731/female 2,656)
65 years and over: 12.3% (male 468/female 477) (2011 est.)
 
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total: 38.8 years
male: 38.8 years
female: 38.7 years (2011 est.)
 
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0.377% (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 160
 
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10.65 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 181
 
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6.88 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 140
 
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0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 105
 
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urban population: 40% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: -0.3% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
 
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JAMESTOWN (capital) 1,000 (2009)
 
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at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.94 male(s)/female
total population: 1.02 male(s)/female (2011 est.)
 
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total: 16.38 deaths/1,000 live births
country comparison to the world: 110
male: 19.28 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 13.34 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)
 
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total population: 78.76 years
country comparison to the world: 46
male: 75.83 years
female: 81.83 years (2011 est.)
 
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1.57 children born/woman (2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 179
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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NA
 
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definition: age 20 and over can read and write
total population: 97%
male: 97%
female: 98% (1987 est.)
 
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NA
 
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Government

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conventional long form: Saint Helena, Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha
conventional short form: none
 
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overseas territory of the UK
 
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NA
 
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name: Jamestown
geographic coordinates: 15 56 S, 5 44 W
time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
 
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3 administrative areas; Ascension, Saint Helena, Tristan da Cunha
 
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none (overseas territory of the UK)
 
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Birthday of Queen ELIZABETH II, second Saturday in June (1926)
 
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The Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Constitution Order 2009, effective 1 September 2009
 
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English common law and local statutes
 
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NA
 
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chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952)
head of government: Governor Mark CAPES (since 29 October 2011)
cabinet: Executive Council consists of the governor, 3 ex-officio officers, and 5 elected members of the Legislative Council
(For more information visit the World Leaders website Opens in New Window)
elections: none; the monarchy is hereditary; governor appointed by the monarch
 
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unicameral Legislative Council (17 seats, including a speaker and deputy speaker, 12 elected, and three ex officio members; members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
note: the Constitution Order provides for separate Island Councils for both Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
elections: last held on 4 November 2009 (next to be held in 2013)
election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - independents 12
 
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Supreme Court; Court of Appeal
 
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none
 
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other: private sector; unions
 
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UPU
 
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none (overseas territory of the UK)
 
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none (overseas territory of the UK)
 
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blue with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the Saint Helenian shield centered on the outer half of the flag; the upper third of the shield depicts a white plover (wire bird) on a yellow field; the remainder of the shield depicts a rocky coastline on the left, offshore is a three-masted sailing ship with sails furled but flying an English flag
 
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Saint Helena plover (bird)
 
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note: as a territory of the United Kingdom, "God Save the Queen" is official (see United Kingdom)
 
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Economy

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The economy depends largely on financial assistance from the UK, which amounted to about $27 million in FY06/07 or more than twice the level of annual budgetary revenues. The local population earns income from fishing, raising livestock, and sales of handicrafts. Because there are few jobs, 25% of the work force has left to seek employment on Ascension Island, on the Falklands, and in the UK.
 
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$18 million (1998 est.)
country comparison to the world: 226
 
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$NA
 
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NA%
 
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$2,500 (1998 est.)
country comparison to the world: 182
 
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agriculture: NA%
industry: NA%
services: NA%
 
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2,486
country comparison to the world: 224
note: 1,200 work offshore (1998 est.)
 
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agriculture: 6%
industry: 48%
services: 46% (1987 est.)
 
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14% (1998 est.)
country comparison to the world: 144
 
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NA%
 
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lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
 
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revenues: $10.23 million
expenditures: $25.14 million
note: revenue data reflect locally raised revenues only; the budget deficit is resolved by grant aid from the United Kingdom (FY06/07 est.)
 
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3.2% (1997 est.)
country comparison to the world: 111
 
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coffee, corn, potatoes, vegetables; timber; fish, lobster; livestock
 
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construction, crafts (furniture, lacework, fancy woodwork), fishing, philatelic sales
 
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NA%
 
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8 million kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 213
 
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7.44 million kWh (2008 est.)
country comparison to the world: 213
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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0 kWh (2009 est.)
 
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0 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 194
 
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100 bbl/day (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 210
 
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0 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 207
 
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85 bbl/day (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 207
 
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0 bbl (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 188
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 186
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 121
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 176
 
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0 cu m (2009 est.)
country comparison to the world: 126
 
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0 cu m (1 January 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 189
 
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$19 million (2004 est.)
country comparison to the world: 207
 
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fish (frozen, canned, and salt-dried skipjack, tuna), coffee, handicrafts
 
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$45 million (2004 est.)
country comparison to the world: 218
 
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food, beverages, tobacco, fuel oils, animal feed, building materials, motor vehicles and parts, machinery and parts
 
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$NA
 
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Saint Helenian pounds (SHP) per US dollar -
0.6388 (2010)
0.6175 (2009)
0.4993 (2007)
0.5418 (2006)
 
 
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Communications

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3,000 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 220
 
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general assessment: can communicate worldwide
domestic: automatic digital network
international: country code (Saint Helena) - 290, (Ascension Island) - 247; international direct dialing; satellite voice and data communications; satellite earth stations - 5 (Ascension Island - 4, Saint Helena - 1)
 
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St. Helena has no local TV station; 2 local radio stations, one of which is relayed to Ascension Island; satellite TV stations rebroadcast terrestrially; Ascension Island has no local TV station, but has 1 local radio station and receives relays of broadcasts from 1 St. Helena radio station; broadcasts from the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) are available, as well as TV services for the US military; Tristan da Cunha has 1 local radio station and receives BFBS TV and radio broadcasts (2007)
 
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.sh; note - Ascension Island assigned .ac
 
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6,873 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 136
 
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900 (2009)
country comparison to the world: 215
 
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South Africa maintains a meteorological station on Gough Island
 
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Transportation

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1 (2010)
country comparison to the world: 235
 
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total: 1
over 3,047 m: 1 (2010)
 
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total: 198 km (Saint Helena 138 km, Ascension 40 km, Tristan da Cunha 20 km)
country comparison to the world: 209
paved: 168 km (Saint Helena 118 km, Ascension 40 km, Tristan da Cunha 10 km)
unpaved: 30 km (Saint Helena 20 km, Ascension 0 km, Tristan da Cunha 10 km) (2002)
 
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Saint Helena: Jamestown
Ascension Island: Georgetown
Tristan da Cunha: Calshot Harbor (Edinburgh)
 
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there is no air connection to Saint Helena or Tristan da Cunha; following a pause in 2009, an international airport for Saint Helena continues in development with a goal of beginning construction in late 2011 or 2012
 
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Military

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males age 16-49: 1,565
females age 16-49: 1,579 (2010 est.)
 
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male: 49
female: 48 (2010 est.)
 
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defense is the responsibility of the UK
 
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Transnational Issues

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none
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