A dependent territory of Norway, Bouvet Island in the South Atlantic Ocean is the world's most remote island. Here is its fascinating story.
Where is the most remote part of Norway? Many might instantly think of the central mountains, or perhaps the Svalbard archipelago. And both are pretty remote places!
But, the most remote part of Norway is actually an obscure ice-covered inactive volcano thousands of miles away in the South Atlantic Ocean. It also happens to be the most isolated island in the world.
It's almost impossible for humans to visit Bouvet Island bar the occasional scientific expedition. Yet life exists here. Penguins and many species of Antarctic seabirds are among the species to call Bouvet home.
You probably have many questions about this unique place. So, let's kick things off with some quick facts.
Quick facts about Bouvet Island
- Location: South Atlantic Ocean
- Size: 49 square km or 19 square miles
- Discovery: Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Charles Bouvet de Lozier in 1739
- Status: Norwegian protected nature reserve
- Land: An inactive volcano, 93% of the island is covered by a glacier
Where is Bouvet Island?
While often considered together with Antarctica, Bouvet Island is actually more than 1,700 kilometres from the northern tip of Queen Maud Land in Antarctica. Yet that is the closest land to Bouvet.
That makes Bouvet the planet's most remote island. That's reason enough for it not to have human settlement, but other remote islands such as Pitcairn just about sustain a population. So doesn't anyone live on Bouvet?
It's not just the island's location that counts against it. Much of the island is permanently covered in ice with no opportunity for agriculture. Also, there are very few easy landing points around the coastline of the 49 square kilometre island.
The island “enjoys” a marine Antarctic climates which is dominated by heavy clouds and fog. The warmest month of the year (February) has a daily mean average temperature of just 2°C.
History of Bouvet Island
With Norway's long history of polar exploration, it's perhaps no surprise that Norwegians have claimed land on the other side of the planet.
Perhaps the most famous expedition was that of Roald Amundsen, who wrote his name into the history books by beating Robert Scott to the South Pole.
While that expedition helped to shore up Norway's claim on part of Antarctica, it was actually whaling pioneer Lars Christensen who is responsible for Bouvet being claimed by Norway.
First spotted by the French in 1739, the island was not found again until 1808 by the British because of a mapping mistake. While it was originally claimed by Britain, Lars Christensen's first Norvegia expedition in 1927 landed on Bouvet and claimed it for Norway.
The dispute was resolved three years later in favour of Norway. In 1971, Norway declared the island a protected nature reserve.
Today, there is virtually no sign of human activity at Bouvet, with the exception of a single weather station located at Nyrøysa. This is the most common landing point on the island created by a rockslide in the 1950s.
Wildlife of Bouvet Island
Penguins are the most apparent life on the island. More than 50,000 breeding penguins are believed to live on the island, mainly the macaroni penguin but also the chinstrap penguin and Adélie penguin.
Aside from penguin, there are also big numbers of Southern fulmar and many other breeding seabirds. Non-breeding birds include several types of albatross. The southern elephant seal and Antarctic fur seal can also be found on or near Bouvet.
How to get to Bouvet
The short answer is, you can't. Short of scientific study or a private ship, the only way to see Bouvet is from one of the very few cruise ships that sail nearby.
Cruise ships that sail to Antarctica do not typically call at Bouvet due to the vast distances involved.
However, a couple of adventure or expedition cruises include Bouvet in an itinerary together with places like South Shetland Islands and Ascension Island. Landings are not guaranteed and highly dependent on weather and sea conditions.