Strange islands of the World

2013-05-22 15:47
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8 Islands to see before you die

From the romantic to the downright exotic, there is an island that has something for you - see this list of eight to start dreaming about the perfect escape.

While we associate islands with beaches, diving, and relaxed lifestyles, there are a host of weird and somewhat sparsely populated ones – some of which are bizarre enough to pique our interest in other ways.

In case you ever wondered which islands bucked the usual trend, we decided to put a list together for you.

North Sentinel Island

North Sentinel Island is located in the Bay of Bengal amongst the Andaman Islands, around 700km west of the Burmese coastline. This 72km2 isle is covered entirely by dense forests, except for the beaches around its circumference. It’s quirk is that it is populated by what is probably the last remaining civilisation not to bet be fiddled with by western arrivals – the local folks are not interested in outsiders and have been known to attack visitors. The island’s population is estimated to be between 50 and 400. India – the country under whose jurisdiction the islands fall – has not attempted to send a government representative to the island since 1997.


Monuriki Island



(Wikimedia Commons)

Although it’s likely you haven’t heard of Monuriki, you probably have seen it. This volcanic island lies in the group that makes up Fiji, and is only about a kilometre long but half a kilometre wide. It is uninhabited, but was the setting for Cast Away, the 2000 film starring Tom Hanks, who was stranded here for four years. From virtually nothing, the island is now a tourist attraction thanks to the film’s success (Tom Hanks went on to be nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Chuck Noland). Monuriki is one of the only places in the world where you can see a Fiji Crested Iguana, which is nearly extinct.


Spitsbergen



(Shutterstock)

This is the largest of the islands in the Svalbard archipelago which you can find north of Norway (under whose flag it belongs). Although the island is 39 000km2 it only has a population of around 3 000. There are no roads on the island, so settlements are connected by air, boat and snowmobile. It’s summer high is 6 degrees Celsius, which is why its main attraction is polar bears, although marine life is also plentiful, including whales. Due to its location, Spitsbergen also holds a whole load of “northernmost” records, including northernmost church, northernmost blues festival and northernmost higher education institute. By law, folks travelling between or outside settlements must carry a rifle with them in case of polar bear attack.
 
Pitcairn



(Shutterstock)

This is the last inhabited British territory in the Pacific Ocean, and boasts a population of around 50 people, most of whom are descendants of the HMS Bounty mutineers (which you probably know as Mutiny on the Bounty). Sadly, the island’s population has plummeted from its high of over 250 people in the 1930s. It is, no big surprise, the least populated democracy in the world. The wreckage of the HMS Bounty is still visible off the coast of the island, after the mutineers burnt it. Interestingly, according to listverse.com, Pitcairn is a wonderful source of honey, but its mailing system means you will likely only receive your order of it many months after submitting it – although it can be bought at the iconic British store Fortnum and Mason. The island is also the most remote jurisdiction in the world. There are no real roads on Pitcairn and only two cars, so most citizens use quad bikes to get around.
 
Ball’s Pyramid



(Shutterstock)

Ball’s pyramid is the tallest volcanic stack in the world – a figure built totally of a volcanic eruption that is estimated to have happened millions of years ago. Although the island was discovered in the late 1700s, its 562 metre peak was only first successfully climbed in 1965, and it took until 1979 for someone to plonk a flag in it – which technically made it part of New South Wales, and therefore Australia. It lies around 600km off the Australian east coast. Although there is very little life on the volcanic island, it is the home of the incredibly rare Lord Howe Island Stick Insect, which many researchers thought was dead until its discovery and capture in 2001.
 
Tetepare



(Shutterstock)

Tetepare is the largest uninhabited island in the South Pacific, but was populated until the 19th century until its citizens all decided to leave – for a reason that is yet to be fully discovered. Experts believe it was an exodus due to either disease, or because some inhabitants practiced headhunting, which is quite literally the practice of cutting people’s heads off. The successors of those who mystifyingly left Tetepare for neighbouring islands came together again when their ancestors’ home was threatened by logging, forming a group that successfully fought off corporate influence.
 
Devon Island



(Wikimedia Commons)


Devon Island is considered to be one of the largest uninhabited islands (at 55 000km2) in the world, and can be found in Baffin Bay, Qikiqtaaluk Region, Nunavut. In English, that’s about halfway between Greenland and northern Canada. One of many interesting geological phenomena on the island is the Haughton Impact Crater, 23km wide, formed by a meteor some 40-million years ago. The crater, as well as the ecological conditions in the island, means it is the closest this planet can come to Mars-like conditions. And scientists have used it for precisely that purpose – to prepare for arrival on the red planet by equipment and humans.
 

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