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There are a lot of places that don’t have any people like here, and here, but also here.
Now, people live here, in Antarctica, and people live here, on the continents, but basically
nobody lives between here and here—in the Southern Ocean.
That’s not only because the amphibious human update isn’t out yet but also because barely
anyone lives on the few islands there are here.
But not only does practically nobody live here but practically nobody even goes here.
Here’s a map of the world’s air traffic and here’s a map of the world’s maritime
traffic.
Nobody lives here, nobody goes here, it’s more isolated than the north pole, and it’s
more desolate than Antarctica.
If you have something to hide this is the place for it and maybe that’s why a few
countries put at least a moderate amount of effort into holding onto these few pieces
of land in the Southern Ocean.
One country in particular lays claim to the most isolated piece of land on earth.
Despite their isolation, though, believe it or not, there are some islands in the Southern
Ocean that actually do have people.
Here’s South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands—a little bit of Britain in the southern
ocean.
Just because these islands are British doesn’t mean that they’re filled with cheap beer,
emotional repressiveness, and bad political decisions because these islands are almost
completely deserted.
They were claimed by James Cook, you know, the guy who claimed everything, and they were
or are used for 1) asserting British dominance, 2) killing wales, 3) killing fish, and 4)
making stamps.
You know that bit of a war Argentina and Britain had in the Falklands, the Falklands War, well
they had this cool little side war in these islands which Argentina won but eventually
132 British commandos and a small assortment of warships kindly asked the Argentinians
to leave.
Eating whale and burning whale oil was once popular until it wasn’t and this was a good
area to catch whale so there were actual, real towns here that looked like this but
now look like this.
When a country has territory they get the rights to fish in the waters 200 nautical
miles from its coastline and so nowadays around these islands British people and people who
pay the British fish for fish that look like this, this, and this.
Lastly, stamp collectors are into stamps from places that are only sort of real so they
spend good money to buy stamps from these islands—enough so that there’s a whole
wikipedia page about it.
Now, time to zoom out because the waters between here and here and actually a pretty international
place.
You’ve got some Kiwi islands, a smattering of Australian ones, a spattering of South
African ones, a sprinkling of British ones, a scattering of French ones, and for some
strange reason two Norwegian ones.
Now, this is strange because Norway does not fall into one of the two main categories here—countries
that are close to the Southern Ocean and countries that colonized half the world.
Norway’s only territories are Svalbard, Jan Mayen island, Peter I island, and Bouvet
island—a small, uninhabited volcanic island a full 8,000 miles away from Oslo.
The nearest bit of land is Gough Island, a British possession 1,000 miles away, making
Bouvet island the most remote place on earth.
No piece of land is further from another piece of land.
The island was first found by a Frenchman who subsequently lost it but then it was found
again by a Brit who claimed it but then almost a century later some Norwegians came along,
built a hut, raised a flag, and decided the island was theirs.
Of course the British fundamentally disagreed with the idea that anyone could just show
up, plant a flag, and decide land was theirs but the British stopped fighting for the island
after a while once they realized that for one, the island was worthless, and two, that
they weren’t actually sure if they owned the island since the person who claimed it
wasn’t 100% sure which island he landed on.
History has revealed that the person who claimed it definitely was on Bouvet island since there
isn’t another island for literally more than a thousand miles but, nonetheless, that’s
how Bouvet became Norwegian.
The most exciting thing to ever happen near the island was two big flashes of light in
1979.
They were detected near the island by an American surveillance satellite and the consensus opinion
nowadays, not the conspiracy theory, is that this was a joint South-African Israeli nuclear
test.
This is, of course, interesting since still today Israel will neither confirm nor deny
having nukes but that’s beside the point.
What’s more interesting is that this area of the world was so deserted that still today
we’re not completely sure whether that double flash of light was or wasn’t a nuclear explosion.
It’s so deserted that you can seemingly set off a nuke without anyone noticing.
Still today, humans only step foot on Bouvet Island every few years.
Unlike most other Southern Ocean islands, there is and has never been a long term settlement
on Bouvet.
The whole landmass is covered in ice and snow so there’s really nowhere to build a settlement.
Even if there was dry land to build a settlement it’s incredibly hard to land a boat on Bouvet
as the seas are quite rough so the main way to get on is by launching a helicopter from
a nearby ship.
Norway just keeps the island since it doesn’t really take much effort to hold onto the territory
and it gives the country some fishing rights.
Given everything, for all those reasons, unless there’s significant climatic change, Bouvet
will likely remain one of the least visited and the most isolated place in the world.
If I were stranded on Bouvet island the three things I would bring would be skis to shred
the gnar, Batman, and an iPad with the Skillshare app.
That’s of course because Skillshare’s app lets you download classes offline which
can teach you how to create fire… in Blender, how to make a Boat… drawing, and how to
build a home… recording studio.
Skillshare has over 20,000 classes so if there’s something you want to learn, whether it be
how to launch a freelance career or how to edit with Premiere, Skillshare probably has
a class on it.
What’s more, you can take any one of these 20,000 classes for free and build up your
skills for two whole months by signing up for Skillshare at skl.sh/hai15 and you’ll
be supporting the show while you’re at it.
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Bouvet Island: The Most Isolated Piece of Land on Earth

186 Folder Collection
Samuel published on October 5, 2018
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