Tristan da Cunha, the most far-flung inhabited island on Earth
The small volcanic island of Tristan da Cunha sits in the remote waters of the South Atlantic, roughly equidistant from South Africa and Brazil, and about 2,400km from its nearest neighbor, the island of St. Helena. The remoteness of the Tristan has earned its nickname: the most far-flung inhabited island on Earth.
Discovered in 1506 by the Portuguese explorer Tristão da Cunha, it was claimed in 1816 by the British, who placed a garrison there to ensure it would not be used as a base to rescue Napoleon, imprisoned on St. Helena. In 1817, the garrison was removed, but a corporal named William Glass and his associates remained behind. They imported wives from Cape Colony (in present-day South Africa), built homes and boats from salvaged driftwood, and drafted a constitution decreeing a new community based on equality and cooperation.
Tristan is currently home to about 250 British nationals, whose diverse ancestry — made up of Scottish soldiers, Dutch seamen, Italian castaways and an American whaler — first arrived some 200 years ago. They live in the world’s most isolated settlement of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas.
Lacking an airport, Tristan can only be reached by ship — a journey that lasts about a week. Sailing the seas for a week puts Tristan’s extreme isolation into perspective.