There are a group of six islands in the southern part of the Atlantic Ocean between South America (Buenos Aires, Argentina) and South Africa (Cape Town) that are called Tristan da Cunha. The main island, which is also called Tristan da Cunha, is said to be the most remote inhabited island in the entire world. The other five islands are named Inaccessible, Nightingale, Middle, Stoltenhoff, and Gough.
According to the island’s website, there are currently 247 Tristan da Cunha islanders, making it the most remote inhabited island. Since 31 of those residents are currently overseas, and 19 additional people are on the island for work and/or just visiting, there are a total of 235 people currently on the island as of March 31, 2019. Except for the very small population that inhabits Tristan da Cunha, along with the manned weather station located on Gough, the rest of the islands remain uninhabited.
Since the islands are so remote, wildlife is thriving there. In fact, two of the islands (Inaccessible and Gough) were assigned as wildlife reserves as well as being declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1995. There are species on those two islands that aren’t found anywhere else on Earth. For example, there are two endemic species of land birds and 12 endemic plant species on Gough. Additionally, two species of birds, eight plants, and at least ten invertebrates are found living only on Inaccessible.
Portuguese explorer Tristão da Cunha discovered the main island in the year 1506 while he was leading an expedition to India and decided to name the island after himself. It’s still unknown whether he just viewed the island from his ship or if he got off his boat and actually stepped on the land.
After the islands were discovered by da Cunha, the French and Dutch governments, as well as the British East India Company, planned to take over control of the islands, but they never did because they couldn’t find a convenient place to land. In fact, it was three centuries later that the first person inhabited the island. In 1810, Jonathan Lambert from Salem, Massachusetts, showed up on the island and named himself the emperor. He even renamed the group of islands as the Islands of Refreshment. While his plan was to settle down there, he ended up drowning just two years later.
Then in 1816, the British Empire formally claimed the islands and a garrison was sent to live there for a year. While the majority of them left, three of the members decided to stay permanently on the island, including Corporal William Glass who was named the governor. The settlement, which was located on the biggest lowland strip of the main island, was named Edinburgh of the Seven Seas.
The island was inhabited by a small group of people in the following decades, including survivors from shipwrecks in the area. In 1856, there were a total of 71 people living on Tristan da Cunha, but the population diminished to just 28 islanders the next year, as many of them left the island because of starvation. The population of the island later grew to 97 people by 1886.
Almost a century later, in 1961, the island had to be evacuated because of the threat of a volcanic eruption. While the islanders were brought to England via Nightingale, the majority of them returned two years later.
With very few people living there, as well as several native animal and plant species that aren’t found anywhere else on our planet, the Tristan da Cunha islands are not only very remote, but quite interesting as well, especially for those who have never heard of them.