Tristan da Cunha: The world’s most remote inhabited island

Tristan da Cunha is the most remote inhabited archipelago in the world, lying 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) from the nearest inhabited land, Saint Helena, and 2,400 kilometres (1,500 mi) from the nearest continental land, South Africa. It is 3,360 kilometres (2,090 mi) from South America. The territory consists of the main island, named Tristan da Cunha, which has a north–south length of 11.27 kilometres (7.00 mi) and an area of 98 square kilometres (38 sq mi), along with the smaller, uninhabited Nightingale Islands and the wildlife reserves of Inaccessible and Gough islands. As of January 2017, the main island has 262 permanent inhabitants. The other islands are uninhabited, except for the personnel of a weather station on Gough Island.

The islands were first recorded as sighted in 1506 by Portuguese explorer Tristão da Cunha; rough seas prevented a landing. He named the main island after himself, Ilha de Tristão da Cunha. It was later anglicised from its earliest mention on British Admiralty charts, to Tristan da Cunha Island.

Today, Tristan is classified as a United Kingdom Overseas Territory, and all of its residents are British citizens. The residents of Tristan da Cunha, who live in the settlement of Edinburgh, share just eight surnames. Tristan houses a school, hospital, post office, museum, cafe, pub, craft shop, village hall and swimming pool. The island is financially self-supporting, and residents earn most of their income from fishing and, oddly, the sale of postage stamps. An optician and dentist are sent from the United Kingdom once a year. The remote location of the islands makes transport to the outside world difficult. Lacking an airport, the islands can be reached only by sea. Fishing boats from South Africa service the islands eight or nine times a year.

The school on the island is St Mary’s School, which serves children from ages 4 to 16. It opened in 1975 and has five classrooms, a kitchen, a stage, a computer room, and a craft and science room.

Source: tristan da cunha

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