Strange

Tristan da Cunha – The Island at World’s End

Tristan da Cunha is not the kind of island you would want to spend an exotic vacation on. There are no sandy beaches or luxurious resorts where people treat you like royalty, but it is the perfect destination to get away from it all. Located 2333 km away from the nearest inhabited piece of land, Tristan da Cunha holds the record for the world’s remotest island.

Tristan da Cunha

Tristan da Cunha

Tristan da Cunha was discovered by Tristao da Cunha, a Portuguese explorer, who named it, although he never got to set foot on it, because the restless sea wouldn’t allow his ship to get close. In 1816 the island fell under British rule, not because the English fell in love with the sights, but because the famous Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled on the “neighboring” island of St. Helena. They feared the French might try to use Tristan da Cunha to rescue their leader, so they brought in a garrison of soldiers to guard it. After a while they realized no one would be crazy enough to use an island 2300 km away as an escape route, so they pulled out the soldiers.

Edingburgh of the Seven Seas

Edingburgh of the Seven Seas

The 270 people that live on the island today are descendants of the soldiers who chose to remain on Tristan da Cunha and start a new life there. Unfortunately, because the inhabitants all come from the same old families, and there isn’t enough genetic diversity, more and more children have birth defects.

Once used as a safe haven by ships sailing from Europe to the Far East, Tristan da Cunha got very few visitors after the Suez Channel opened. Despite this, the island became a prosperous micro-economy based on fish export and rare stamp trading.

Satellite view of Tristan da Cunha

Satellite view of Tristan da Cunha

The most interesting thing about Tristan da Cunha, is its people. Although they were all temporarily moved to England in 1961, when the island’s volcano erupted, almost all of them opted to return to their homes after the danger passed. They experienced life on the continent, with its cars, music, social games, electricity, but opted to return to their small community. Their decision might seem strange to us, but they prefer to live on Tristan, a place where everyone knows each other, the crime rate is zero and people’s doors and cars are always unlocked. Young people travel to the mainland, but almost every one of them comes back and starts a family there, just like their forefathers have been doing for centuries.

tristan-da-cunha5

Edingburgh of the Seven Seas is the only settlement on Tristan da Cunha, built on the island’s only flat portion. It looks more like a small Scottish village and it takes an average person just 15 minutes to walk through it from north to south and east to west. The rest of the island is just rocky mountains and steep valleys.

Remotest island in the world

Remotest island in the world

Tristan da Cunha is definitely not the most exotic island to travel to, but if you want to escape the chaos of the big city and experience life in a small, friendly community, you probably won’t find a better place. It’s not the most accessible destination either, but traveling here is definitely worth it. After all how many people can say they’ve traveled to the world’s end?

Photo credits: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

3 Comments for "Tristan da Cunha – The Island at World’s End"

melody says on November 28th, 2010 at 9:51 am:

i am amazed….had a dream of flying to the
Island of Tristan, never knew it exsisted, and it does…very intresting! what an amazing place…hope i get to see it oneday.

Jorg says on June 22nd, 2012 at 8:01 am:

I agree. The location is mind blowing. Anybody can answer a simple question:why people live there?

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