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Tristan da Cunha: Only 269 People Remain on World's Most Remote Inhabited Island

Tristan da Cunha: Only 269 People Remain on World's Most Remote Inhabited Island



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Tristan da Cunha is a group of islands located in the southern Atlantic Ocean , between the continents of Africa and South America . The main island of the group is known also as Tristan da Cunha and is often considered to be the world’s most remote inhabited island. Just 269 people live on this isolated wildlife haven.

Due to the remoteness of the islands, their ecosystems have been largely preserved from human disruption, allowing wildlife to thrive. Two of the islands have been designated as wildlife reserves and have been inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

The amazing island of Tristan da Cunha. Source: Grant Tiffen / Adobe .

The Discovery of Tristan da Cunha?

Tristan da Cunha is located about halfway between Cape Town , South Africa and Buenos Aires , Argentina. The group consists of six islands – Tristan da Cunha, Inaccessible, Nightingale, Middle, Stoltenhoff, and Gough.

Apart from the permanent settlement on the primary island, Tristan da Cunha, and the manned weather station on Gough, the rest of the islands in the group are completely uninhabited. The estimated population of the islands in 2014 was 269, making it the most remote inhabited island in the world.

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Map of Tristan da Cunha group of islands in the Southern Atlantic Ocean. (Jeanjung212 / )

Tristan da Cunha was first discovered in 1506 by the Portuguese explorer Tristão da Cunha, who was leading an expedition to India. Needless to say, he named the main island after himself. It is unclear, however, whether he actually set foot on the island or only saw it from his ship. Incidentally, Tristão da Cunha would later be appointed as head of Manuel I’s embassy to Rome, where he would pledge the Portuguese king’s obedience to the newly-elected pope, Leo X. The embassy was well-known for the gifts presented by the king to the pope, most notably the exotic animals acquired by the Portuguese during their trade missions in the East.

Control of Tristan da Cunha

After Tristão da Cunha’s discovery of the islands, there were plans by the French and Dutch governments, as well as the British East India Company , to take control of the islands. These plans, however, came to naught as no suitable landing place could be established. The first known inhabitant of Tristan da Cunha only arrived three centuries after the island was discovered in 1810, Jonathan Lambert, from Salem, Massachusetts , arrived on the island, declared himself emperor, and renamed the group of islands as the Islands of Refreshment. He decided to settle there, but his stay was short, as he drowned two years later.

In 1816, the islands were formally claimed by the British Empire and a garrison was sent there. In the following year, the garrison was withdrawn, though three of its members decided to stay on. One of them was Corporal William Glass, who became the island’s ‘governor’. The settlement that was established became known as Edinburgh of the Seven Seas and is situated on the largest lowland strip of the main island.

The Struggles of Habitation of Tristan da Cunha

In the decades that followed, the island was inhabited by a handful of people, who were joined occasionally by the survivors of shipwrecks. By 1856, Tristan da Cunha had a population of 71, though many fled in the following year due to starvation, lowering the number of islanders to just 28. By 1886, however, a total of 97 people lived on the island. A major evacuation of the island was undertaken in 1961, when the islanders were threatened by a volcanic eruption . The inhabitants of Tristan da Cunha were evacuated to England via Nightingale. Most of the islanders returned home two years later, though some had died in England, while others chose to settle there for good.

The Main Settlement on Tristan da Cunha . (Official CTBTO Photostream / CC BY-SA 2.0 )

Lastly, the lack of human habitation has enabled wildlife to thrive on Tristan da Cunha. In particular, Gough and Inaccessible have been designated as wildlife reserves, and in 1995, were recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. These two islands are home to species not found anywhere else in the world. For instance, on Gough, there are two endemic species of land birds, along with 12 endemic species of plants, while Inaccessible has two species of birds, eight plants, and at least 10 invertebrates that are found only on this island.

Gough part of the group of islands, Tristan da Cunha, is home to species not found anywhere else. ( Vladimir Wrangel / Adobe)


Tristan Da Cunha: The Most Remote Inhabited Archipelago in The World

To say our world is fascinating would be an understatement. There are many hidden gems and mysteries we have yet to uncover on this planet. The more we study what’s around us, the more curious we become. And the more we see of the world, the more we realize there’s still much to explore.

One place that will definitely pique your interest is Tristan da Cunha, a remote group of volcanic islands in the South Atlantic. It is also the name of the main island.

Tristan da Cunha is the world’s most remote inhabited archipelago.

It is 2,000 kilometers away from Saint Helena (the closest inhabited land to it) and 2,400 kilometers away from the nearest continental soil (Africa). The only option to reach Tristan is by boat since there is no airport on the island. Coming from Cape Town in South Africa, the sea travel will take almost a week.

In January 2017, the estimated number of people living on the main island was at 262 only. The other islands remain uninhabited, except for one other where the staff stay to man a weather station.

The first report about the remote archipelago was made in 1506.

It was discovered by Portuguese explorer Tristão da Cunha, who was known for his service to King Manuel I of Portugal and as ambassador to Pope Leo X in Rome. He reached the islands because of trouble at the raging seas. Later on, he named it after himself. The original name “Ilha de Tristão da Cunha” was later anglicized.

Several other landings happened in the following decades. Records say that a ship captained by Ruy Vaz Pereira stopped at Tristan to seek some water in 1520. On February 7, 1643, the crew of the Dutch East India Company ship Heemstede also reached the group of islands.

By 1656, Dutch explorers who had visited the islands many times managed to produce the first rough maps of the area.

It was not until 1767 when a full exploration of the island Tristan was undertaken. The crew of the French corvette Heure du Berger stayed on for three days. Tristan, however, remained uninhabited until the 19th-century.

A man named Jonathan Lambert, who came from Massachusetts, settled on the island and claimed ownership of the archipelago in 1810. He arrived in December of that year with two other men and declared the islands as his property. He called them the “Islands of Refreshment.” Two years later, only one man, Thomas Currie, had survived. He lived as a farmer on Tristan. In 1816, however, the archipelago was annexed by the United Kingdom.

Tristan Da Cunha’s only settlement is located north of the island and named Edinburgh of the Seven Seas.

The islands have active volcanoes that have erupted in the past. In 1961, for example, when big eruptions, landslides, and an earthquake took place, the entire population left for England. According to records, these people eventually became fed up with the city life and the English weather that they returned to Tristan once experts confirmed it was safe to do so.

While Tristan Da Cunha isn’t your typical choice for travel, it will surely be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see what this place is like. Does this type of isolated destination appeal to you?


  • From Tristan da Cunha it's 1,243 miles to Saint Helena, 1,491 miles to South Africa and 2,088 miles to South America
  • Its only town, Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, has less than 300 residents and is known as The Settlement
  • Millions of native birds, including several breeds of albatross and rockhopper penguin, call the archipalego home

Published: 12:20 BST, 7 March 2015 | Updated: 17:15 BST, 8 March 2015

Accessible only by a six-day boat journey from South Africa or as part of epic month-long cruises through the South Atlantic Ocean, Tristan da Cunha is about as far from a quick holiday destination as it gets.

The world's most remote inhabited archipelago stands 1,243 miles from Saint Helena, its closest neighbour with residents, 1,491 miles from South Africa and 2,088 miles from South America.

It's just seven miles long and 37.8 square miles in area, and has but one settlement officially known as Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, referred to by locals - less than 300 of them - as The Settlement, located at the foot of the 6,765-foot Queen Mary's Peak.

But despite its unimposing size and formidable remoteness, Tristan da Cunha has a rich history and a plethora of native wildlife that is truly unique.

Tristan da Cunha's only settlement, Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, is built on the flat below the 6,765-foot volcano Queen Mary's Peak

The vast distances that must be travelled to get to Tristan da Cunha, which lays claim to being the most remote inhabited island in the world

It is 1,243 miles from Saint Helena, its closest neighbour with residents, 1,491 miles from South Africa and 2,088 miles from South America

Tristan da Dunha's main island, which also gives its name to the archipelago is just seven miles long and 37.8 square miles in area

Edinburgh was named after the visit of the first Duke of Edinburgh in the 1800s, but is referred to as The Settlement by its less than 300 locals

A sign shows the remarkable lengths one must go to get to Tristan, including 5,337 miles to London

Oceanwide Expeditions have four cruises that take in three-day stops at Tristan da Cunha, the name given to both the main island and the surrounding archipelago, including the uninhabited Nightingale Islands, and Inaccessible Island and the Gough Islands, which are nature reserves.

Cruises, such as those which leave from Ushuaia in Argentina's Tierra del Fuego, are the most convenient way to see the island.

One of 12 spaces can be filled on the fishing vessel MV Edinburgh and the cargo ship MV Baltic Trader.

However, non-local tourists are at the bottom of an eight-tier priority pecking order that may include those responding to medical emergencies, official visitors and locals.

The other cruise sails annually to Gough Island, run since 2012 by the South African Antarctic Research and Supply Vessel Agulhas II, and carries more than 40 passengers to and from Tristan.


Tristan da Cunha: Only 269 People Remain on World's Most Remote Inhabited Island - History

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Portuguese explorer Tristão da Cunha originally discovered the archipelago of volcanic islands containing Tristan da Cunha (along with five other smaller, uninhabited islands), and promptly named the islands after himself.

Despite being explored several times throughout the 1600s by the Dutch, it wasn't until the early 1800s that American whaling vessels took an interest in the islands. A trio of American men attempted to establish a colony and trading station on the island, though the plan flopped after a fishing accident sent two of the men to the ocean's depths.

In 1816, the British seized Tristan da Cunha out of concern that the French might use the island to help free Napoleon, imprisoned over 1,200 miles north on the island of St. Helena. From there, the population began to flourish, whalers set up shop, and Tristan da Cunha started to look more and more like an actual civilization.

While things seemed to take off in spite of its remote location, life on Tristan da Cunha wasn't without its hardships. The population was inconsistent, with settlers coming and going with the tides. At one point, the island was home to a mere four families. Fewer and fewer ships stopped by for resupply and — with the decline of the whaling industry during the American Civil War — isolation began to take its toll on the island.

Tristan da Cunha then endured further adversity as sailors committing insurance fraud purposely beached their ships on the island, and black rats began streaming out of the hulls' carcasses, negatively impacting the already scant agricultural prospects, as well as the local wildlife.

In 1867, Queen Victoria's son, Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, paid a visit to the island cluster and renamed them Edinburgh of the Seven Seas -- though most locals never came to accept the name.

Neither did the island's residents accept defeat. The residents of Tristan da Cunha/Edinburgh of the Seven Seas instead became efficient hunters and gatherers, with eggs and meat from indigenous birds (albatrosses, penguins, and shearwaters, just to name a few) helping to supplement the lack of farming and trade, again proving the resilience of the island's people.

Nevertheless, isolation on Tristan da Cunha hit its peak during World War I, when it was said that the island didn't receive a single letter over the course of ten years. After the Admiralty called off its yearly resupply voyage, Earth's most remote civilization had no contact with the outside world until the news of peace finally reached them in 1919.

Two decades later, when the outside world was once again at war, Tristan da Cunha knew little of the calamity beyond the horizon, although the Royal Navy did use the island as a weather and radio station for monitoring Nazi U-boats.

Today, Tristan da Cunha is home to 267 people and features modern comforts such as a hospital — equipped with an operating theatre and dental facilities — and a grocery store. The sea's fickle nature still proves to be an issue when it comes to receiving regular shipments of supplies, however, so orders must be placed months in advance.

Not every aspect of the island is up to date, though diesel generators sit between Edinburgh of the Seven Seas' cottages, as traditional electricity is not available.

Despite, or perhaps because of, such burdens, life within the world's most remote settlement is simple and peaceful. The only concern stems from the active volcano that looms above. Tristan da Cunha hasn't had an eruption since 1961 when every last citizen (though there admittedly weren't many of them) evacuated.

While relocated to England and able to experience the conveniences of "modern" life, most islanders promptly decided to move back to Tristan da Cunha when geologists declared it safe two years later. Mankind may very well not be an island, but that doesn't mean life isn't better on one.


Tristan da Cunha: Giant marine sanctuary to surround world's most remote inhabited island

The new reserve will act as a no-take zone, meaning that fishing will be banned, in an effort to protect the wildlife.

Friday 13 November 2020 05:19, UK

The waters around a remote British overseas territory in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean are to become one of the biggest marine sanctuaries in the world.

The government of Tristan da Cunha has declared a 687,000 square kilometre (265,000 square mile) marine protection zone in its waters - three times the size of the UK.

The new reserve will act as a no-take zone, meaning that fishing and other harmful activities will be banned, in an effort to protect the wildlife found on, and around, the chain of islands, including albatross, penguins, whales, sharks and seals.

It also means that the people on the islands, which are the most remote inhabited islands on the planet, will be overseeing the largest no-take zone in the Atlantic Ocean, and fourth largest marine reserve in the world, according to conservationists.

Tristan da Cunha's protection zone becomes part of the UK's "blue belt" of protected areas around overseas territories, which it monitors using satellite technology.

The sanctuary is supported by the local community and an international partnership, and will protect a mostly untouched "nature haven" to tens of millions of seabirds and other wildlife.

Sustainable fishing will be permitted in 10% of the local waters of the island for the community, while 90% of the area will be closed to activity.

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It comes 25 years after Gough Island, which is part of the island group, was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site as home to unique wildlife.

Chief Islander James Glass says his community is committed to conservation, and that half of the land already has protected status.

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"But the sea is our vital resource, for our economy and ultimately for our long-term survival.

"That's why we're fully protecting 90% of our waters - and we're proud that we can play a key role in preserving the health of the oceans," he said.

Beccy Speight, CEO of the RSPB, says the new protections will be a "jewel in the crown of UK marine protection".

"Tristan da Cunha is a place like no other. The waters that surround this remote UK Overseas Territory are some of the richest in the world.

"Tens of millions of seabirds soar above the waves, penguins and seals cram on to the beaches, threatened sharks breed offshore, and mysterious whales feed in the deep-water canyons.

"From today, we can say all of this is protected," she said.

UK Environment Minister Lord Goldsmith said: "We are hoovering life out of the ocean at an appalling rate, so this new marine protected area is really a huge conservation win and a critically important step in protecting the world's biodiversity and ecosystems.

"It means our fantastic blue belt programme has over four million square kilometres (1.5 million square miles) of protected ocean around the UK Overseas Territories."


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Isolated, though. This seems to discount archipelagos. Most islands in the Pacific I can think of would qualify as such. anon303944 November 17, 2012

The Hawaiian islands are, in fact, the most remote inhabited islands on earth, with Kauai as its farthest point. anon167215 April 11, 2011

It all depends how you define it.

Bouvet island is the farthest from any other land or island, about 1270km from Antarctica.

Tristan da Cunha is too small and rocky for an airport, so can only be reached by boat. But, it is only 2800km from South Africa.

Rapa Nui is 2075km from its nearest inhabited neighbor, Pitcairn Island, and 3510km from South America.

The main eight (inhabited) islands of Hawaii are 3515km from the nearest island or land (California). Even if you include Kure Atoll (no inhabitants) as part of the Hawaiian islands, that part is still 4000km from Japan. So Hawaii and Rapa Nui are both pretty far from a continent, but Rapa Nui is not that far from another island (Pitcairn). But Hawaii has an airport and is quite populated, so can you call it isolated? anon121532 October 25, 2010

It's Easter Island. If you use "distance from another group of humans" as your metric, than your isolation ends if a cruise ship goes by within 1000 miles. An island is defined as being not part of a continent. Isolation = further from a continent. Easter beats Tristan by hundreds of miles. The metric you are using is actually "island that is farthest from both another human-inhabited island and a continent". anon50449 October 28, 2009

Pitcairn Islands are only 330 mile away from Mangareva in the Gambier Islands, which has an airport. anon50446 October 28, 2009

The closest inhabited island to Tristan da Cunha is Saint Helena, 2173 km (1350 miles) to the north.

Easter Island is 2,075 km (1289 mi) east of Pitcairn. You check *your* facts!

Hawaii is about 1,860 miles (3,000 km) from the nearest continent, but you could hardly call it "isolated" since more people go to Hawaii in a year than have ever been to Tristan. There is more to isolation than just distance from the next nearest land mass. Traveling traffic also plays a part. anon42002 August 18, 2009

What about Pitcairn Islands? anon40952 August 11, 2009

Easter Island is the most isolated inhabited island. check your facts anon26634 February 17, 2009

I was under the impression that the islands of Hawaii were the most isolated in the world as they are 2400 miles from California, 3800 miles from Japan and 2400mi from the Marquesas islands.


Tristan da Cunha, 9926 km away from Greenwich and 2810 km from the coast of Cape Town, is the most remote archipelago in the world, consisting of four volcanic islands located in the Southern Atlantic ocean: the only inhabited one is Tristan da Cunha, which gives the archipelago its name. Although this island is part of the British Overseas Territories and is remotely administrated by the Governor of Saint Helena — the other tropical British island in the Southern Atlantic Ocean, where Napoleon died in exile — and its story is one of a kind: adventurous, tragic and romantic.

Tristan da Cunha owes its name to the Portuguese seafarer Tristão da Cunha, who sighted the island in 1506 during his route towards the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. It then took 137 years before the first landing on the coast of that inhospitable island at the end of the world. It was done by the crew of the Dutch East India Company ship Heemstede, who also left an inscribed tablet on the island. The first person who actually ever lived on the island was the American Jonathan Lambert from Massachusetts, with the sailors Andrew Millet and Tommaso Corri, the latter of Italian origin. They arrived in Tristan da Cunha in December 1810, hunting seals. Lambert decided to name the remote archipelago the Islands of Refreshment, also declaring it his property. Unfortunately two years later Lambert and Millet died in some mysterious accident and the only survivor, the Italian-American Tommaso Corri, never said what happened. A garrison of British Marines, which landed on the island in 1816, suspected that Corri killed the other settlers to get his hands on the islands.

Regardless of what happened, since then the United Kingdom annexed Tristan da Cunha, building a village and increasing its popolution by putting some women on the island, mostly from South Africa. The future of the island was sealed by the brave choice of the Scottish Marine William Glass, who decided, in 1817, to stay on the island his wife and their two children, forsaking his homeland, where the rest of the garrison returned. He became the first official governor of Tristan da Cunha, signing the original laws of the island. This deal is still in force, and we can say it’s the only case in the world of real socialism: there is no private ownership, no people who rule other people and there is an equitable distribution of the costs, work and gains.

View on Tristan da Cunha – Photo by Brian Gratwicke, licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Italians castaways in Tristan da Cunha

After the Glass family, other men added to the population, from unexpected shipwrecks or by choice: this was the case for Thomas Hill Swain, an English soldier who moved from Saint Helena to Tristan da Cunha in 1826, deciding to marry the first woman who would landed there. The following year, five women were brought from Saint Helena, and families grew rapidly. In 1836 an American ship sank near the island. Its castaways were rescued by the islanders and three of them decided to stay in Tristan da Cunha: the Dutch Pietre William Groen (later renamed Green), the American William Daley and the Danish Peter Miller. That year was a lucky one for the island: another American citizen, Thomas Rogers from Philadelphia, landed on the island, marrying Governor William Glass’s youngest daughter. In 1849, the American whaling captain of Irish origin Andrew Hagan also chose Tristan da Cunha as his dwelling place, joining the island’s community and marrying another daughter of Glass’s. And what about the Italians?

It all began on October 3, 1892, when there was a fire on board the ship Italia, carrying coal from Scotland to Cape Town. The brave captain Francesco Rolando Perasso, from Genoa, was able to contain the fire while in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, then heading towards Tristan da Cunha. With an adroit manoeuver, the captain made the ship crash into the rocks, ensuring that his 16 crew members reached safety with the lifeboats. After that tragic adventure, the castaways were welcomed and housed by the islanders for three months, until a passing ship brought them back home. Then, something incredible happened: two of them, the Italians Gaetano Lavarello and Andrea Repetto, decided not to go back to Genoa, even disobeying the captian’s orders. It was purely a matter of the heart: the Italian sailors fell in love with two Tristanian women. Their love was the most important thing of all. And so Lavarello and Repetto — born in Camogli, a quaint village in the Ligurian Riviera — had happy lives and many children in Tristan da Cunha, becoming the last surnames to ever have joined the other families present on the island and which still exist today.

The settlement known as Edinburgh of the Seven Seas in Tristan da Cunha – The Official CTBTO Photostream Surroundings of Infrasound Station IS49 Tristan de Cunha, UK –The Official CTBTO Photostream, licensed under CC BY 2.0

But the story is not over. On October 10, 1961 the island’s volcano erupted, causing several earthquakes and forcing the entire population to evacuate. The British government decided to ship them out to the United Kingdom. For many of them, it was shocking, considering that only two out of 290 people had ever left Tristan da Cunha. They were offered a job and the opportunity to settle on the Shetland Island in Scotland. However, their thoughts and their dreams were left in the South Atlantic Ocean. Therefore, defying the laws of nature and following those of the heart, in April of 1963, 51 Tristanians returned to their native island, repairing their damaged houses and restoring their lives. Six months later they were followed by the rest of population, continuing their legendary family tradition to the end of the world.


A Visual Dispatch From One of the World’s Most Remote Islands

The inhabitants of Tristan da Cunha, which sits in the remote waters of the South Atlantic, are insulated from the coronavirus by an immense moat.

James Glass, the Chief Islander, on the flanks of Queen Mary&rsquos Peak, the summit of Tristan. An active shield volcano, its eruption in 1961 forced the evacuation of all islanders. Credit.

Photographs and Text by Andy Isaacson

With travel restrictions in place worldwide, we’ve launched a new series, The World Through a Lens, in which photojournalists help transport you, virtually, to some of our planet’s most beautiful and intriguing places. This week, Andy Isaacson shares a collection of photographs from the remote island of Tristan da Cunha.

The six-by-six-mile volcanic island of Tristan da Cunha (the main island of an archipelago bearing the same name) sits in the remote waters of the South Atlantic, roughly equidistant from South Africa and Brazil, and about 1,500 miles from its nearest neighbor, the island of St. Helena. Lacking an airport, Tristan, part of a British Overseas Territory, can only be reached by ship — a journey that lasts about a week.

Tristan, as it’s colloquially known, is currently home to about 250 British nationals, whose diverse ancestry — made up of Scottish soldiers, Dutch seamen, Italian castaways and an American whaler — first arrived some 200 years ago. They live in “the world’s most isolated settlement of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas,” reads the island’s website, “far from the madding crowd.”

It was late one night in 2009 when I Googled “What is the world’s most remote inhabited island?” and Tristan appeared. I had questions. How does it feel to live so far from the madding crowd? How do you even get there?

The logistics, it turns out, involved requesting approval from the island council and booking passage from Cape Town on a South African polar supply ship, one of only a handful of regularly scheduled voyages to and from Tristan each year. (Pack appropriately once you get there, you’ll be there a while.)

Modern air travel, which involves boarding a plane in one part of the world and stepping out several hours later into another, distorts geography. But a slow journey across the surface of the Earth helps you grasp the true breadth of distance.

Sailing the seas for a week puts Tristan’s extreme isolation into perspective. At first sight, the island — a cone-shaped mass of rock that rises to a height of more than 6,700 feet — appears like an iceberg alone and adrift, given shape by the vast negative space that surrounds it. Improbably, beneath the towering flanks of an active volcano, a cluster of low-slung structures with red and blue tin roofs occupies a narrow grass plateau overlooking the ocean: the settlement of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas.

“People imagine us with grass skirts on,” Iris Green, Tristan’s postmistress at the time, told me after I arrived. In fact, the island’s history is entirely free of such stereotypes. Discovered in 1506 by the Portuguese explorer Tristão da Cunha, it was claimed in 1816 by the British, who placed a garrison there to ensure it would not be used as a base to rescue Napoleon, imprisoned on St. Helena. In 1817, the garrison was removed, but a corporal named William Glass and his associates remained behind. They imported wives from Cape Colony (in present-day South Africa), built homes and boats from salvaged driftwood, and drafted a constitution decreeing a new community based on equality and cooperation.

Over the years, the islanders assimilated castaways and deserters of various nationalities. Today’s inhabitants, all interrelated, share seven family names among them: Glass, Swain, Hagan, Green, Repetto, Lavarello and Rogers. The collective spirit that sustained the island during years of almost complete isolation still exists.

“Tristanians will do business with the world we understand it’s important to be in the world if you want something from it,” explained Conrad Glass, then the Chief Islander. “But the world can keep its bombs and bird flu. Whatever we’ve got here is under our control. It’s the remoteness of the island that has jelled us and brought us all together.”

In the way of sightseeing, Tristan has little to offer visitors. A tourist brochure lists activities such as golf (a challenging nine-holer whose hazards include chicken coops and gale force winds) and an all-day hike up to Tristan’s summit, Queen Mary’s Peak, which is typically shrouded in clouds. On Saturdays, the recreation center, Prince Philip Hall, comes alive for the weekly dance, while next door, the Albatross — the world’s remotest pub, of course — is the spot to grab a South African lager and pick up some Tristanian dialect. Locals might be “heyen on” about collecting “Jadda boys” as they get “half touch up”— bragging about how many penguin eggs they’ve collected, while getting drunk.

I spent a month on Tristan, participating in its daily rhythms. There were birthdays and baptisms, and lobster prepared five ways. When a bell rang out across the settlement, announcing calm seas, I set out with fishermen to collect the lobster, the island’s primary export. Other days I strolled down Tristan’s only road to a patchwork of stonewalled potato plots overlooking the sea: The Patches.


Make sure you have enough vacation days if you visit

These days Tristan da Cunha is a thriving community where many inhabitants share some ancestors. The New York Times reports most islanders share seven surnames among them — those of the settlers that chose to stay — Glass, Swain, Hagan, Green, Repetto, Lavarello, and Rogers. While many inhabitants evacuated the island in a 1961 volcanic eruption, most of them returned, and their descendants remain.

Today, the island still retains its old-world charm. Its official website states there is only one two-story building in Tristan da Cunha, which houses an internet cafe and the island's government offices. It doesn't have an airport, so anyone who wants to visit the island must book passage on a supply ship coming from Cape Town in South Africa. And once you get there, you might be there a while, since there are usually only three ships going to the island that make nine round-trips a year. The island's remoteness, says the New York Times, creates a close sense of community.

So if you want to leave everything behind, maybe consider Tristan da Cunha. Maybe wait until worldwide events calm down a bit, though, before you go there.


10. Pitcairn Island, UK

Population: 49
Nearest populated land mass: 1,317 miles (2,120km) to Tahiti.

This remote island is most famous for the home of the Bounty Mutineers. After a successful mutiny on board the HMS Bounty, the ring leader (a man named Fletcher Christian), eight other male mutineers and eighteen (male/female) Tahitians settled on Pitcarin Island.

They burned the ship in Bounty Bay, and set out to create a new civilization on the then inhabited island.

It would be 18 years (1808) before they would receive their first visitor, American Boat Captain Folger on the Topaz. It would be six more years (1814) before the British would arrive.

By this time there as only one man still alive with thirty other women and children. It was learned that the initial settlement was marked by serious tensions among the group alcoholism, murder, disease and other ills took the lives of most mutineers and Tahitian men.

The last remaining mutineer, John Adams was granted amnesty for his part in the mutiny in 1814. The mutineers legacy is still seen today on the island with many still bearing their surnames Christian, Adams, Quintal, and Young. The island today has just 49 people and its future is uncertain.


Watch the video: The Tristan Da Cunha Project (August 2022).