From eastern Greenland to northern Alaska, we explore some of the most remote places on the face of the Earth.
Whether it’s astronomical distances, inhospitable climates or extreme terrains that define these remote and hostile lands, there’s one thing they all have in common: they’re on my bucket list. That and the fact that people live there.
It’s highly unlikely I’ll actually make it to many of these far-flung realms – I certainly didn’t get to Ittoqqortoormiit on my recent trip to Greenland – but I salute the hardcore residents who carve out an existence in the most remote places and communities on Earth.
1. ITTOQQORTOORMIIT, GREENLAND
Ittoqqortoormiit is located on Liverpool Land, a peninsula in eastern Greenland and one of the most remote towns in the country. It was first inhabited in 1925 by 80 Inuit settlers.
Today, the declining population of 452 spends its time hunting whales and polar bears for meat and trading, while presumably also deciding what colour to paint their homes.
2. KERGUELEN ISLANDS
This French Overseas Territory in the southern Indian Ocean is also known as the Desolation Islands, which gives you an idea of how remote it is: really remote.
It is more than 3,300km away from the nearest populated location, making it one the most remote places on the planet. The population fluctuates depending on the season: around 45 in the winter rising to around 110 in the summer.
3. PITCAIRN ISLAND
The British really don’t know what to do with this island of unruly residents. With a population of just 50, it is the world’s least populous national jurisdiction.
This secluded island should be known for its fantastic history of mutiny or the fact that it was one of the first territories to give women the vote (in 1838 some 80 years before the rest of the UK). Unfortunately, this was all overshadowed when it was given the record for the highest number of sex offenders per capita.
4. TRISTAN DA CUNHA
Known as Tristan to its 292 residents, this island is part of the world’s most remote inhabited archipelago, lying 2,000km from the nearest inhabited land: Saint Helena, which is rather remote itself.
Tristan is also 2,400km from the nearest continental land, South Africa. Most of Tristan’s population lives in the main settlement of Edinburgh of the Seven Seas. What a name!
5. OYMYAKON, RUSSIA
This is one of the coldest places on the planet. It has an extreme subarctic climate that on 6th February 1933 dropped to a temperature of -67.7 °C (-90 °F) making it a candidate for the Northern Pole of Cold (coldest place on Earth).
The 500 people who live there “enjoy” days ranging from three hours in December to 21 hours in June thanks to its northerly position. Quite bluntly, this place is brutal. Only a certain type of person can live in a place like this: Russian.
6. CHANG TANG, TIBET
Chang Tang is a vast high-altitude plateau stretching 1,600km across the Tibetan Plateau. The inhospitable land is inhabited by roughly half a million Changpa, but they’re hard to spot. The Changpa are a nomadic people who know all about hardship thanks to the near-Arctic climate in which they survive.
When Swedish explorer Sven Hedin crossed Chang Tang he reported not seeing a single person for 81 days. In 2009, the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre named the Tibetan Plateau as the world’s most remote place after compiling a map showing the most and least interconnected places on earth.