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Thursday, July 14, 2011

The 6 Most Remote Inhabited Islands on Earth

People have been traveling the seas for thousands of years. We have inhabited nearly every corner of the Earth, and we’ve done so with gusto. Humans have a long history of making incredible journeys and carving out a living in even the most inhospitable and unforgiving environments Earth has to offer. The vast oceans of Earth are filled with countless remote islands, and many are still uninhabited. Here are 6 islands that just a few people have chosen to call home: the 6 most remote inhabited islands on Earth:

Tristan da Cunha

Location: South Atlantic Ocean
tristan da cunha
Tristan da Cunha is the main populated island in a small archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located about 1,750 miles away from South Africa. First discovered by the Portuguese in 1506, this lonely island outpost was permanently settled in 1810, when a rogue American named Jonathan Lambert claimed de facto ownership of the island and its small population of whalers (which is such an American thing to do). This nonsense claim to ownership obviously didn’t last long, and the British Empire formally annexed Tristan in 1816. The island currently has a population of 275, and immigration to Tristan da Cunha is strictly prohibited. In fact, there are only 7 surnames among its current residents. Due to the small population, marriage between cousins is fairly common on the island, and this has led to widespread genetic asthma (which is one of the better side effects of rampant inbreeding). Tristan has no airport and can only be reached by sea. As of 2001, the residents of Tristan da Cunha are finally able to enjoy television. Sure, it’s the British Armed Forces Television Network, but it’s better than having no TV at all while you’re suffering from an inbred asthma attack.

North Sentinel Island

Location: Indian Ocean
north sentinel island
North Sentinel Island is a small speck in the large Andaman Island chain just off the coast of India in the Bay of Bengal. The island is unique because it has remained unsettled by modern society. Instead, it’s inhabited exclusively by an uncontacted tribe called the Sentinelese, who have resisted contact with modern people, often times violently. In 1974, a film crew from National Geographic attempted to make peaceful first-contact with the tribe by bringing gifts to the natives. As a token of their gratitude, the Sentinelese shot the crew’s director through the thigh with an arrow. Dozens of expeditions have met with similar results, and the natives have even been known to kill illegal fishermen who are dumb enough to set up camp on their island. The Sentinelese have posted a proverbial “Do Not Disturb” sign on their metaphorical doorknob. In fact, so little is known about the violent Sentinelese people that nobody even knows what they call themselves, or even what language they speak. After the devastating tsunami of 2004, experts speculated that the small Sentinelese population had probably been wiped out. However, images from subsequent flyovers have proven that the isolated tribe is fairing just fine on their own.


Location: Arctic Ocean
The perpetually frozen Norwegian island of Spitsbergen has been tasked with a very important job: saving the entire planet. This remote island at the top of the world is home to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (colloquially known as “The Doomsday Vault”). This vault contains a countless variety of seeds from across the world, and is intended to be used to rekindle society in the event of a devastating global apocalypse. So why is the fate of the planet buried on Spitsbergen? Because Spitsbergen is incredibly far away from EVERYTHING. The island is so remote that (it’s believed) if the rest of the world were decaying from atomic fallout, Spitsbergen would probably remain unfazed. The island itself is kind of like a Scandinavian Wild West. Reindeer exist in abundance, and polar bears are a genuine threat. Citizens who populate the island must routinely carry rifles to defend against possible Polar Bear attacks. There are also no roads connecting the various villages on Spitsbergen. To get around the island, one must rely on snowmobiles, cross-country skiis, or perhaps reindeer wrangling. This out-of-the-way chunk of frozen land is perfect for Nordic Survivalists and James Bond villains alike.

Pitcairn Island

Location: South Pacific Ocean

pitcairn island
The story of Pitcairn Island is one of mystery, high-seas intrigue, and good ol’ fashioned murder. The tropical paradise of the South Pacific was home to a Polynesian culture that had inexplicably disappeared by the 1400′s, but the island is best-known for being the location where the mutinous Bounty crew settled with their Tahitian womenfolk in 1790, after abandoning their British ship’s captain and 18 crew members at sea to enjoy the idyllic island life forever. The small band of rapscallions was getting along very well, until they decided to start killing each other over the limited supply of women on the island. This cycle of murder, sex, and more murder continued for some time, until most of the mutineers decided to mellow out and just enjoy their bizarre little slice of blood-soaked quasi-paradise. After years of isolation, an American sailing vessel randomly happened upon the island in 1808. The American sailors expected to meet a tribe of primal natives, but were instead greeted by a canoe loaded with super-friendly English speaking Anglo-Tahitian mutineer children. That’s how Pitcairn Island was re-introduced to the rest of the world, and its strange story could again be told. Today, the island has a population of about 50 people, most of whom are the descendants of the original Bounty mutineers. It also has the distinction of being the least-populated political jurisdiction on Earth.

Easter Island

Location: South Pacific Ocean

easter island
Truly the gold standard for all far flung bastions of humanity, Easter Island defies easy explanation. Easter Island (referred to as “Rapanui” by the island’s native population) is quite literally in the middle of nowhere. Located in the South Pacific, its nearest neighbor is Pitcairn Island, which is 1,300 miles away. Some time around the 3rd century A.D, Polynesians first sailed to the island. The world famous, highly recognizable statues on Easter Island are called Moai, and they were carved by islanders from a quarry of soft rock on the island. They were not, as is commonly believed, carved by aliens). The statues are believed to represent deceased clan leaders (again, not aliens). In 1722, Europeans began visiting Easter Island, bringing with them the usual colonial comforts of slavery, disease, and forced religious conversion. In the ensuing chaotic decades, the indigenous population ebbed and the island faded into obscurity, until it was annexed by Chile in 1888. Today, Easter Island has a population of about 5,000. It boasts a thriving tourism industry, and a healthy export of pseudo-scientific UFO documentaries.

The Island

Location: Unknown

the island from lost
Okay, this one is super weird. It doesn’t have a name, nor does it have a fixed location. It has a tendency to hop around space and time and can only be accurately located from a church basement in Los Angeles, California. The Island was first discovered in 2004, and then it infuriated people for the next 6 years. At the heart of the island lies a source of strange energy that might be electromagnetism, or the physical manifestation of the delicate balance between good and evil. It has been home to numerous ancient civilizations, including the Egyptians, Romans, Sumerians, and various Southeast Asian cultures, each of whom have disappeared mysteriously. The Island is home to various sects of violent people who are at constant odds with one another. Islanders report that they have been repeatedly terrorized by a smoke monster, but it was recently discovered that the smoke monster was just a mutated form of one of the ageless residents who came too close to the energy source at the heart of the island, thereby obtaining the ability to morph into smoke, animals, and even dead people (obviously). In fact, this island is so absolutely crazy that you’d have to sit around for six years making up crazy things that could happen on a crazy island just to come up with all the crazy things that happen on this crazy island. But don’t let any of this deter you from visiting! Even with all of the terrible, confusing, nonsensical, elaborately far-fetched things that happen there, The Island is still probably way safer than Aruba.