(Check out our complete collection of Underwater and Oceanic Oddities.)
Did you know that one in every ten people in the world lives on an island? There is even a word for a “craze or a strong attraction to islands” - islomania! From places of paradise to the last refuge of pirates each of these islands has set at least one world record and some have stories that are truly stranger than fiction. From the greatest and grandest to the most remote, mysterious, deadly and least populated, here are seven amazing islands from around the world.
The Pitcairn islands are best known for being the home of the descendants of the HMS Bounty mutineers and the Tahitians who accompanied them, an event retold in numerous books and films. Due to infighting, famine and disease, many of the initial compliment of the island perished. Today, Pitcairn boasts only 50 inhabitants (from nine families) and is also notable for being the least populated jurisdiction in the world. The wreck of the HMS Bounty is still visible underwater off the shores of the main inhabited island, and the Tahitian/European descendants speak a unique language: a mix of Tahitian and English known as Pitkern.
Palmyra is the quintessential combination of classic island stereotypes. It is simultaneously a kind of desert island paradise as well as a mysterious source of superstition. Its long strange history includes buried pirate treasure, tragic deaths, shipwrecks, military use and abandonment and a recent grizzly double-murder of a vacationing couple. Some believe the island to be cursed, but even rationalists are astonished at the number of bizarre happenings that have plagued the island since its discovery in the 1700s. It remains currently the only unorganized incorporated U.S. territory.
Bouvet is the remotest uninhabited island in the world. Is roughly 75 square miles of surface is mostly covered by glaciers and and very little survives on the island aside from moss, seals, seabirds and penguins. However, the island has been at the center of some peculiar mysteries. An early discoverer of the island documented second island nearby that was never seen again. In the 1960s an abandoned lifeboat was found on the island, though nothing was ever seen of its passenger. In the above satellite images, it can only be picked out by spotting disturbances in the weather patterns.
Tristan da Cunha is the remotest group of inhabited islands in the world, thouand of miles from South America and South Africa deep in the Atlantic Ocean. Among other strange native species, the Inaccessible Island is home to the smallest living flightless bird. Only 272 people live on the islands. The islands have seen there share of troubles, having been blamed for dozens of shipwrecks over the centuries. More recently, the populace had to be temporarily evacuated in the 1960s during a volcanic eruption that destroyed multiple buildings on the island.
Bishop Rock holds the Guinness Book of World Records title of smallest island in the world. An amazing lighthouse, built in 1858, is the only thing stands on this tiny island off the coast of Britain. The first lighthouse erected on the island was washed away before it could be completed. The current lighthouse has managed to survive currents and winds for well over a century. In historical times, convicted criminals were left with bread and water on the island to die.
Nauru is the smallest independent island country in the world. This Pacific island is only 8 square miles, and is the third smallest country in the world next to Monaco and Vatican City. Once its natural reserves of phosphate were depleted, this once-rich island nation first became a haven for money laundering and then had to seek aid from Australia. The island has since become a way station for asylum seekers looking to enter the land Down Under.
Dubai is home to an increasingly infamous set of awe-inspiring man-made islands, by far the largest in the world. One would almost have to be living on an island oneself to have not seen or heard of this project. These islands, in the shape of everything from a palm to the world itself, constitute the most massive land-moving operation of all time. Dubai has recognized that oil, its original source of wealth, will only last for so long. With islands like these and a thriving tourist industry around them there is no doubt that Dubai will outlast its oil supplies.