By Sarah Cooper-Lesadd, Research Analyst

Contact: sarah.cooper-lesadd@fotbot.org

From islands situated in the middle of the ocean, to dense, unreachable rainforests and inhospitable deserts, our planet is awash with islands and territories that are unlikely to ever feature on regular tourist trails. Yet their remoteness opens our eyes to the most diverse environments, remaining integral to highlighting the multiplicity of fragile, complex and varied relationships in tandem between islands, territories and nation states. As our reliance on technology increases and places become more intimately connected, it is difficult for us to imagine places that are remote. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected and the world becomes ever increasingly integrated, there is still just over 10 percent of the Earth that is more than 48 hours away, remaining inaccessible by air travel and left isolated without frequent access to the rest of the world.

Where is the most remote place on earth located? While places such as Siberia, the Arctic and Antarctica lay claim to some of the most perilous environments on earth, the most remote place on earth is situated in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. Tristan da Cunha is home to one of the most remote environments lying some 2810 kilometres from Cape Town, forming an integral part of the British Overseas Territories and is rich with a diverse and varied history. The island was first discovered in 1506 by a Portuguese explorer before being later settled by the British in the 1800s. Though the island still has some television stations and access to the internet, it is the most physically isolated location on the planet with its remote geography and volcanic geology precluding the building of an airstrip. While the island is imbued with a rich and varied history, making it an attractive proposition for numerous explorers and travellers, successfully reaching the island can be daunting as accessing the island takes several days and can remain an impenetrable task. Yet this very challenge is its strength and is strongly appealing in a world that remains constantly in flux.

Though travelling to Tristan involves both a physical and mental challenge, its unique history and socio-economic organisation, combined with its remoteness, is its strength. The island now remains one last remaining place that truly remains off the beaten track with its closest island neighbour situated 1467 miles to the north and nearest mainland located in Cape Town. The only way to travel to the island is by boat and while the island was once regularly connected to South Africa by a British transport ship, this has all but ceased and now the only visitors to the island arrive by cargo vessel or by cruise liner.

Despite these challenges, the island is undeniably unique by virtue of its social and economic principles as set out by William Glass in 1817, when he established a settlement on equality. All land on the island is communally owned and unless the community votes for a change in its law, no outsiders can buy land or settle on Tristan. The island is not just renowned just for its unique socio-economic structure but is undoubtedly a haven for wildlife in the middle of the Atlantic Oceans. The islands are home to endemic flora and fauna, having been identified as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International thanks to its 13 known species of breeding seabirds on the island and two species of resident’s land birds.

While the island may be isolated and difficult to reach, this is testament to its strength in sustaining an array of flora and fauna in its unique socio-economic organisation and unrivalled history.

In a shrinking world, places like Tristan da Cunha are becoming scarcer, and It remains a shining example of how British Overseas Territories remain important for the preservation of some of our planet’s most impressive and unique phenomena, be they cultural or natural.