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In 1739 a French naval officer, Captain Lozier-Bouvet discovered the remotest, uninhabited island of Bouvet in the South Atlantic Ocean, which was subsequently named after him. Antarctica is its nearest land neighbour situated more than 1600 kilometres (994 miles) to the south. The nearest human neighbours of the island are the 271 residents of Tristan da Cunha 1,404 miles away.

Bouvet Island is situated between the African, South American and the Antarctic tectonic plates and formed for the most part from a shield volcano. The island is a broad, gradually sloping cone formed from thin flowing lavas all of which are covered in glaciers.  The northern coastline holds the Kapp (Cape) Valdivia, a peninsula created by the lava dome. The island lay unclaimed until 1825 when the British raised their flag on it. Then in 1928 the British waived their claim yielding it to Norway, which had occupied the island the prior year.

There have never been any inhabitants on Bouvet Island so in 1971 the island and its adjacent waters were declared a nature reserve. While no one lives there, the island does have its own internet domain “.by.” Currently there no .by sites on the internet, but the Norwegian government has decided that the domain will continue to exist even if unused for the time being. The island is occasionally employed by the scientific community to monitor whale migration. The extremely harsh conditions on the island deter anything more than short-term stays.

Life on Bouvet Island is limited to vegetation of lichens and mosses with the only fauna being seals, penguins and seabirds. For anyone who does end up near the island, setting foot on it is actually rather difficult due to the glacial cliffs surrounding it. The best option for landing on the rock is to fly in on a helicopter from a ship’s deck.

 

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