The Most Remote Islands in the World

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Where to Go When You Need a Break From the World

If you’ve always wanted to get away from everyone in the world, you might want to try a remote island. These aren’t tropical tourist destinations, but rather some of the most desolate and remote places on earth. Take a look at the loneliest islands in the world.

Tromelin Island

About 450 miles east of Madagascar, Tromelin Island is a small piece of flat land. While the French have legal authority over Tromelin, the nation of Mauritius also lays claim to the island. There have been a series of ongoing negotiations as to how France and Mauritius should govern the island. It’s seen as a valuable piece of real estate for its flat surface area, the perfect spot to land a plane in the Indian Ocean. Today the island is used for weather monitoring, fishing, and scientific expeditions.

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Cocos Islands in Australia

Halfway between the coasts of Australia and Sri Lanka, the Cocos Islands or the Keeling Islands are made up of 27 small coral islands. Only two of these islands that harbor life, West Island and Home Island, home to around 600 people total. The name has gone back and forth between Keeling and Cocos for centuries. “Keeling” refers to the explorer William Keeling, the first person to spot the islands back in the 1600s. “Cocos” refers to the abundance of coconut trees on the main island, one of its most notable features. The islands were involved in both World Wars. They were seen as a valuable asset that could be used to detect the movements of naval ships in the Indian Ocean.

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Tristan da Cunha in the U.K.

Located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean between South America and the southern tip of Africa, Tristan da Cunha is the most isolated archipelago in the world. It lies 1,200 miles from Saint Helena, the closest inhabited island, 1,500 miles from the coast of South Africa, and 2,090 miles from the coast of South America. It features one main island and several smaller rock formations nearby. Despite its proximity to Europe, the U.K. annexed Tristan da Cunha in 1816. This was in an effort to keep the French away from the island of Saint Helena, once the home of the imprisoned Napoleon Bonaparte. After the atrocities of the War of 1812, the U.K. also didn’t want the U.S. keeping a naval base on the island. For years, the U.K. oversaw all activity on the island from Cape Colony in South Africa. Today, over 260 permanent residents live on the island, consisting mostly of farmers and descendants of the island’s original founders.

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Hirta Island in the U.K.

Hirta Island belongs to the archipelago known as St Kilda, 40 miles north-northwest off the coast of North Uist in Scotland. Hirta is the only inhabitable island in the bunch. Lined with green rocky shores, Hirta remains isolated from the rest of Europe. The original settlement of Hirta was established back in the Middle Ages. As the years went on, tourism began to take root on the island, spreading illness to the natives. The island had to be evacuated during WWI, leaving the island nearly uninhabited. Today, the only people that live on the island are a few military officers stationed at a small base, and a smattering of environmentalists, historians, and volunteers, looking to restore the ruins of a community that has long since left.

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Bear Island in Norway

Bear Island is something of a dead zone in the modern world. It’s the southernmost island of Norway, 146 miles south of the island of Spitsbergen and 247 miles north-northwest of Ingøy, Norway. The island has been occupied by only a few people since its discovery in 1596. It has been a popular destination for deep-sea fishermen and the occasional whaling party, but that was a long time ago. The geography of the island is mostly limited to steep cliffs, rocky terrain, and a few low-lying valleys with fresh water. Given this topography, the island isn’t known for its vegetation. Today, the only people who stay on the island are a few employees, courtesy of the island’s weather station. The current population is listed at 9.

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