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How is it on the world’s most remote inhabited island in Corona times?

Of course you can’t go there now, but even without a pandemic, this volcanic dot in the Atlantic Ocean is almost inaccessible. Tristan de Cunha is the world’s most remote inhabited island. How are things there in times of corona?

About 2000 kilometers west of Cape Town is the archipelago of Tristan da Cunha, of which the island of the same name is the only inhabited. Nine times a year you can visit the most remote inhabited island on earth with a fishing boat. Then you can spot birds and whales for weeks and if you are very experienced, you can also surf there. It is also said with regard to tourism.

The world’s most remote island in times of Corona

In recent years, a cruise ship also stops three times a year, causing the “population” to temporarily increase more than tenfold. But the island council has decided on Monday March 9 to stop these ships for the time being.

tristan de cunha
(Image: Google Maps)

In early March, the world’s most remote inhabited island was hit by a flu epidemic, believed to have come from the last boat to visit the island. As a result, the small-scale healthcare system of Tristan de Cunha was already overloaded. Don’t even think about what happens when the population is affected by the corona virus. “We take the pandemic here very seriously,” the government said in a statement on the government website. “The island is home to a disproportionately large number of older people, many of whom have an underlying air condition that makes them at risk.”

Life on Tristan de Cunha

According to the latest figures, about 260 people live on Tristan de Cunha and they all live in Edinburgh-of-the-Seven-Seas. This place is on the north side, the only part of the island that is somewhat flat. The residents form a close-knit community consisting of nine families with the surnames Glass, Swain, Green, Rogers, Hagan, Collins, Squibb, Repetto and Lavarello. If you have housing plans here, you must have permission from every adult on the island.

Edinburgh-of-the-seven-seas, tristan de cunha, most remote inhabited island in the world, coronavirus
Edinburgh-of-the-Seven-Seas (Image: WikiMedia)

The families on the world’s most remote inhabited island have an equal amount of land. The same goes for the livestock, in the form of two cattle and seven sheep per family. The income is the same for every adult. There is one police officer as a law enforcement officer, but he also performs other tasks on the island. The inhabitants are largely self-sufficient. Cattle has plenty of space to graze on the grasslands, and vegetables and potatoes are grown on the fields. There is also enough fish.


Of course, medicines must come from the mainland. They come along a fishing boat from South Africa a few times a year, along with mail, groceries and any visitors. That the health care system is probably not resistant to the coronavirus was shown by a lung virus infection in 2007 that killed many residents of Tristan de Cunha. This made the news after a doctor asked for help due to a shortage of medicines.

tristan de cunha, most remote inhabited island, hospital
The new hospital (Image:

The world’s most remote island has had a hospital since 1942. On June 9, 2017, the newly built and expanded Camogli Healthcare Center became operational. A few local nurses assist two international doctors / doctors here. The hospital consists of a waiting room, an emergency room, consulting rooms, operating room, X-ray room and rooms for dental treatment. The equipment consists of two portable X-ray machines and an emergency trolley with an ECG machine and defibrillator. Well arranged for such a small population, but of course the coronavirus would be disastrous. “The ban on incoming travelers applies until further notice. Crews of ships in distress must contact the island in advance, “said the government.

Birds, whales and an extremely rough sea

Tristan de Cunha is not just the most remote inhabited island in the world. With an extremely rough sea, ditto weather conditions and a largely 600 meter high rocky coast, the volcanic island is almost inaccessible. But once you are there, you will experience a way of life unlike anywhere else in the world. And you then have weeks (unless you come via a cruise ship) to spot the most special birds, whales and other animals.

tristan de cunha, most remote inhabited island in the world
(image: WikiMedia / Michael Clarke)

On the remote island you will find important colonies of seabirds, some of which breed only on Tristan de Cunha. A wide variety of whales and dolphins swim around the island, including killer whales and sperm whales. To experience all this, you should talk about traveling on a fishing boat for five to eight days without comfort. Or even worse: sailing on a cruise ship. But leave the residents, humans and animals, alone for now.

Read more about the island’s history here. Also watch the VPRO documentary series from 1997.


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