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Tristan da Cunha

Tristan da Cunha has an area of 98km2. Tristan da Cunha is the world's most remote inhabited island. Tristan Da Cunha lies 2,816 kilometers (1,750 miles) from South Africa and 3,360 kilometers (2,088 miles) from South America. The closest land mass is Saint Helena a mere 2,430 kilometers (1,510 miles) distant. The island is a dependency of Saint Helena a British Overseas Terrority. In 2005, the Royal Mail assigned Tristan the postcode of TDCU 1ZZ. Tristan da Cunha is an active volcanic island with rare wildlife and home to about 300 British Citizens. The economy is based on traditional subsistence farming and fishing supplemented by royalties from the commercial crawfishing industry, the sale of stamps and coins and income from limited tourism.

The Tristan da Cunha Group also includes Nightingale, Inaccessible and Gough Islands. Nightingale Island has an area of 3.2 km2 and is 38 km southwest of Tristan at 37o 24S and 12o 29W. There are two associated small offshore islands, Stoltenhoff and Middle (or Alex) Islands as well as offshore islets and stacks. Inaccessible Island is 1.4 km2 in area and lies 40 km southwest of Tristan at 37o 18S and 12oW. Gough Island is 350 km SSE of Tristan at 40o 21S and 09o 53W with an area of 65 km2. Whilst Nightingale and Inaccessible Islands are both uninhabited Gough Island contains a permanent meteorological station at Transvaal Bay. Average temperatures at Tristan range from 12oC in August-September to 19oC in February. Average annual rainfall is 1 681 mm. At Gough Island temperatures range between about 6oC and 17oC and average annual rainfall is over 3 000 mm.

The Tristan da Cunha islands were originally discovered by the Portuguese Admiral Tristao da Cunha in 1506 en-route to Cape Town. The first recorded landing of Tristan was by the Dutch in 1643 and there were two subsequent Dutch expeditions before they abandoned the idea of using it as a permanent supply base. In 1816 the UK formally took possession of the island when HMS Falmouth established a garrison there. The next year a small group led by Thomas Glass settled the island permanently. They were joined by others over the years, including five female volunteers from Saint Helena, and by 1832 the population had risen to 34. Various travails and periods of isolation meant that when a communications base was established during World War Two the island experienced a major transformation. This brought new buildings and some cash into the economy. Between the war and 1961 Tristan experienced a booming economy due to the establishment of a successful fishing industry to exploit the crawfish and the agreement to the establishment of a meteorological base on Gough Island by the South African Government.

Visitors are not allowed to hike up the Base or to Marys Peak unless accompanied by a Tristan guide. Trips to areas away from the main settlement on Tristan, including to Nightingale and Inaccessible Islands, must be made with a guide for safety reasons. A fee is payable and an indemnity declaration must be signed. You need prior approval from the Administrator to visit Gough Island, which is 200 miles away by sea to the south. Permission to land will rarely be granted as Gough is a World Heritage Site. Travel to the Island is by sea only. Fishing vessels from Cape Town visit the Island nine times a year, and there is one annual visit made by a South African research vessel in September/October. Due to the limited harbor facilities, vessels have to anchor offshore and passengers are ferried by smaller local boats. This can be hazardous in bad weather.

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Page last modified: 12-07-2017 19:10:33 ZULU