Tristan da Cunha

Tristan da Cunha is a remote island in the south Atlantic Ocean, at latitude 37.08°S, longitude 12.28°W. It is a dependency of St. Helena (United Kingdom), from which it is 2,000 km distant. In 1961, a volcanic eruption on the island resulted in the bulk of the population (a few hundred people) being evacuated to Britain, though most have since returned. It is extremely difficult to access the island, due to both its remoteness (the island is one of the most insular in the world) and the fact that the island is surrounded by cliffs over 600 metres (2000 feet) high.

Missing image
Flag of Tristan da Cunha

Residents of the island are known as Tristanians.



The name 'Tristan da Cunha' is also used for the archipelago, which consists of the following islands (areas given in km2):

Inaccessible Island and the Nightingale Islands are 35 km Southwest of the main island, while Gough Island is 395 km SSE.

The main island is quite mountainous; the only flat area is the location of the capital, Edinburgh on the Northwestern coast (sometimes known as "Edinburgh-on-the-Seven-Seas"). The highest point, Queen Mary's Peak (2010 m), is covered by snow in winter.

The other islands of the group are uninhabited, except for Gough Island Weather Station on the namesake island, which has been operated by South Africa since 1956 (since 1963 at its present location at Transvaal Bay on the Southeast coast), with a staff of 4.

Tristan da Cunha is a nesting place of Wandering Albatrosses.


There are around 300 inhabitants, all carrying one of seven surnames, though surnames are not used in practice. They speak English and are Anglicans (there are two parishes). There are some health problems because of endogamy, including asthma and glaucoma, largely due to the inevitable marriages among distantly related couples, for example marriages between second degree cousins, that comes with having such a small gene pool. Almost all the inhabitants work for the local government. The islands are largely self-sufficient. A ship arrives every 3 or 4 months with supplies and news from the exterior.

There is no airport, and only a small fishing port.

There is no television, but TV sets are used to play videogames, and watch videotapes, though there is no video rental service. There is one newspaper, called Tristan Times.

There is one school, one hospital, one post office, one museum, one caf, one pub and one swimming pool.

After the age of 16, those who wish to can continue studies in Britain.

As of 2003, there are no permissions for establishment of foreigners.

The archipelago's main source of foreign income is selling stamps to stamp collectors. For this reason, TA and TAA have an exceptional reservation under ISO 3166-1 on behalf of the UPU to represent Tristan da Cunha. Another source of income is the fishing of lobsters for export to Japan and the United States.

History of Tristan da Cunha

Main article: History of Tristan da Cunha

The archipelago was discovered in 1506 by a Portuguese mariner, Tristo da Cunha, who named the main island after himself. Ilha de Tristo da Cunha was later anglicised to Tristan da Cunha Island. He was unable to land.

The first survey of the archipelago was made by the French frigate L'Heure du Berger in 1767. Soundings were taken and a rough survey of the coastline was made. The presence of water at the large waterfall of Big Watron and in a lake on the north coast were noted, and the results of the survey were published by a Royal Navy hydrographer in 1781.

The first permanent settler was Jonathan Lambert, from Salem, Massachusetts who arrived at the islands in 1810. He declared the islands his property and named them the Islands of Refreshment. His rule was short lived, as he died in a boating accident in 1812. However, the great wealth he earned selling elephant seal oil to passing ships is supposedly still hidden somewhere on Tristan da Cunha.

In 1815 the British formally annexed the islands, mostly as a measure to ensure that the French couldn't use the islands as a base for a rescue operation to free Napoleon Bonaparte from his prison on St Helena.

To this day, Tristanians remain proud members of the British Commonwealth.

External links

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