Rhodesia was the last state in Africa that got independence from the British Empire in 1980 when it transformed into what we know today as Zimbabwe. That was the final curtain for the powerful empire. However, in the process of giving independence to the country, Britain discovered a ragbag comprising of beautiful isolated regions across the south Atlantic. Former colonies of Britain are known currently as ‘dependencies.’ There are just a handful of them, including Tristan da Cunha, the island discovered in the Atlantic Ocean.
To begin with, Tristan da Cunha is an island volcano. Often called ‘The Lonely Island,’ Tristan da Cunha is known as the most remote inhabited island in the planet. The island is actually a tip of an old volcano, rising over 6,500 feet above waters. The land is comprised of cinders and several other types of volcanic rocks, usually covered in noticeable orographic clouds.
This British territory is consisting of the main island of Tristan da Cunha, Gough Island and some uninhabited islands like the Nightingale Islands and the Inaccessible Island. Though it is considered very remote, Tristan da Cunha is now boasting to have its own radio station broadcasting four days weekly, a café shop, a convenience store and a video shop. With its relatively small land area, the basic necessities and simple pleasures in life in the island are already provided by such establishments.
Agriculture is the main industry and means of livelihood throughout the islands. It is not surprising that land is communally owned. Policies are strict that no outsiders could ever buy or own land in Tristan da Cunha. Tourism is also becoming a strong suit for the archipelago. Aside from the sights and natural richness, visitors are awed by culture, the lobster factory and the regular auctions for old coins and postage stamps. Despite its remote location, Tristan da Cunha surely is a collectors’ haven.
Be reminded that because of its remoteness, Tristan da Cunha has a very difficult transport system. Do not expect to see any airport. The island group is reached only through boat. However, many fishing boats coming from nearby South Africa go to the islands on a regular basis. When going to Tristan da Cunha, arrange for definite transports and schedule your itineraries well.
Tristan da Cunha is classified technically as an archipelago because it has several islands. The main island is mountainous, being volcanic in origin. The capital of Edinburgh is the sole flat area. Located at the northwest coast of Tristan da Cunha, Edinburgh is at times called by sailors as the ‘Edinburgh of Seven Seas.’ Nightingale and Inaccessible Islands are situated southwest of Tristan da Cunha’s main island.
Needless to say, the climate in the archipelago is marine subtropical. There are minor differences in temperature especially between summer and winter. The differences can even be felt between day and night. Days are usually warmer than nights. The highest peak in the islands is Queen Mary’s peak, which is almost always covered by white snow in winter. Tristan da Cunha is believed to have been formed by formation of upwelling magma, which is called by experts as Tristan hotspot.
Tristan da Cunha was originally discovered by Portuguese navigators in 1506. The first group of navigators was led by Tristao d’Acunha. Thus, the name was set after him. The five islands in the archipelago were often visited by whalers and sealers in the 18th and 19th centuries.
After World War I, the island group was brought into total isolation. Basic commodities ran short. London’s Society for the Propagation of the Gospel sent aid in 1922. Since then, many British bodies had dropped by. In 1938, Tristan da Cunha was formally proclaimed a British dependency by the British Government.
The Queen was vested executive authority over the island group. She is represented by St. Helena’s governor, who resides permanently in the island of St. Helena. An Administrator is formally appointed to take care of the islands and represent the governor. Tristan da Cunha, being remote that it is, has its distinct set of its own laws. Interestingly, the population barely reaches 300. Inhabitants share seven family names, namely, Green, Lavarello, Glass, Swain, Rogers, Repetto and Hagan.
Tourism in Tristan da Cunha
Tourism is centered in ecology and culture. The islands’ extreme isolation, unpredictable weather and steep terrain is usually deterring large-scale tourism activities. However, it has been proven that many tourists from all around the world like to experience the challenges of the islands. In a modern world where ‘Survivor TV series’ is in vogue, anyone from the urban jungles will naturally want to explore undiscovered and remote areas. This is aside from the fact that Tristan da Cunha has so much to offer in terms of sceneries and panoramic views.
The islands are surrounded by the Atlantic. During summer, swimming and skin dipping gets totally refreshing and invigorating. There are not too many inhabitants and the number of vacationers is still not too significant. Thus, Tristan da Cunha is a best option for vacationers who aim for isolation and some kind of precious privacy. Living a simple life becomes a once-in-a-lifetime vacation experience for tourists.
For science vacationers and researchers, Tristan da Cunha can be a paradise in itself. The island group is made up of oceanic islands, which are isolated so that resident taxa have undoubtedly undergone extreme speciation. There are many floral species that can only be found in Tristan da Cunha. Three endemic bird species are also identified in the islands. Thus, Tristan da Cunha is designated as an Endemic Bird Area.
As mentioned, local residents are trying to support the economy through sale of collectors’ postage stamps and skilled handicrafts. Tourists are the main targets of such creative and exquisite items. Selling of commercial rock-lobster is also a thriving industry, though authorities are now re-considering the impact of lobster-capturing to the existence of seabirds, which are destructively dazzled by the bright lights of ships at night. There were reports that lobster traps also, in some instances, killed several rockhopper penguins.
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