Thursday, February 21, 2013
Tristan da Cunha
The single most remote inhabited place in the world, Tristan de Cunha is an archipelago of small islands located in the southern Atlantic Ocean. The nearest land to the island is South Africa, which is roughly 1,700 miles away, while the South American coast lies at a distance of about 2,000 miles. Despite its tiny size and astonishing isolation, Tristan de Cunha has enjoyed a rich history. The island was first discovered in 1506 by a Portuguese explorer, and was later annexed by the British, who feared the French might use it as a point of departure to rescue Napoleon, who had been exiled to nearby St. Helena. A small group of British, Italian, and American settlers began living on the island in the 1800s, and it is still under the U.K.’s jurisdiction today. The islands now have a total population 271 people, most of whom are descended from those original settlers and make their living as farmers and craft makers. Although the island now has some television stations and access to the internet via satellite, it is still the most physically isolated location on planet earth. The island’s rocky geography makes building an airstrip impossible, so the only way to travel to it is by boat. It was once regularly connected to South Africa by a British transport ship, but this vessel has since stopped calling on the island, and outside of the occasional cargo vessel, now the only visitors to Tristan da Cunha are deep sea fishing boats.