Friday, July 30, 2004

Tristan da Cunha

Tristan da CunhaI was sitting in a boring meeting yesterday and directly across from me was a very large map of the world. While staring at the map, I noticed some lonely looking islands in the middle of nowhere. One particular group of islands seemed rather odd because they simply stuck out of the middle of what seemed to be the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean, half way between Cape Town, South Africa and the coast of Argentina. It seemed like the kind of place that wouldn't be easily discovered.

My thoughts started to drift to wondering if anyone lived on these islands. As the meeting broke up, I walked over to the map and wrote down the name of the little group of islands, Tristan da Cunha. I also noted the names of other remote islands that had caught my eye: Kerguelen, Les Îles Crozet, Amsterdam and St Paul Islands, Bouvetøya.

Later, I looked up these islands and discovered that of all of these islands, Tristan da Cunha is the most remote island in the world with a permanent population. The other islands may have a few scientists or researchers but Tristan da Cunha is the only one of these islands with families living their lives. Almost 300 people of British and US ancestry make their home on this island. They are all descendants of British and US sailors who stayed on Tristan in the 1800's.

It is hard to imagine living in such a remote place that phones are virtually unknown and the internet is so expensive that no one has it. Even snail mail can take six months to arrive on Tristan da Cunha. And yet the people there are happy and live there by choice. In 1961, the islanders were evacuated to England because of a volcanic eruption and yet two years later they all chose to return. What a different life they lead by choice compared to the technological civilization we live in.

I have included a couple of links below that will give more information to those that are interested.

Tristan da Cunha

The Tristan Times

The South Atlantic & Subantarctic Islands Web Site

No comments: