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Thumbnail profile: Tristan da Cunha
This station is located on the most remote inhabited island in the world. Tristan da Cunha lies some 3,000 km from the nearest mainland, standing isolated in the midst of the South Atlantic Ocean about midway between Cape Town, South Africa and Buenos Aires, Argentina. Actually it is the summit of an active volcano rising up from the ocean floor.
First sighted in 1506 and named after a Portuguese sailor, Tristão da Cunha, the first survey of the archipelago was made in 1767. In 1815 the United Kingdom formally annexed the islands to keep the French from using them as a base to free Napoleon Bonaparte from his prison on the nearby island of Saint Helena.
Whalers also set up on the islands as a base for operations in the Southern Atlantic. The 1869 opening of the Suez Canal however, together with the evolution to coal-fired steam ships, reduced the relevance of the islands as a stopping port for journeys from Europe to the Far East.
In 1867, the main settlement was named Edinburgh of the Seven Seas after the visit of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and second son of Queen Victoria. On 12 January 1938 the islands were declared a dependency of St Helena.
Geography and Weather
The main island is quite mountainous, the only flat area being around the capital on the northwestern coast. The highest point is a volcano called Queen Mary's Peak (2,062 m), which is snow-covered in winter. The climate is marine sub-tropical with only small fluctuations in the temperature between summer and winter. Because the island lies close to the “Roaring Forties”, the weather is liable to sudden drastic changes and is often violent. The remote location of Tristan da Cunha makes transport to the outside world difficult as there is no airport and the islands can only be reached by boat.