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Tristan da Cunha

Maps and images


Named after a Portuguese explorer who sighted the island for the first time in 1506, Tristan da Cunha consists of an English-speaking community of just over 260 people. The island covers an area of 207 square km and consists of a single volcano which rises at the centre. On the north rim there is the Edinburgh ledge, a narrow strip of land where most of the inhabitants live. Tristan da Cunha is one of five islands which are administered by Britain. The first people to land on the island arrived in 1643. However, the settlement of the island did not begin until the early nineteenth century (1816) when British soldiers were stationed there while Napoleon was held captive on St Helena (several hundred kilometres to the north). The present-day islanders are descendants of this original group and of some sailors from whaling ships as well as of non-English speakers from a few other sources.

The volcano on the island erupted in 1961 and the inhabitants were evacuated to England. The vast majority returned to the island in 1963 after the volcano had become dormant again.

A common feature is an initial intrusive /h/ like in ‘highland happle’ for ‘island apple’. A second phonetic feature is that words like first or herb are pronounced with a low vowel, i.e. as ‘farst’ and ‘harb  respectively. A grammatical feature is the ommission of tense and possessive inflections and the omission of copulative ‘be’. ‘Eastings’ and ‘westings’ is used to indicate directions. Complex place-names as Down-where-minister-pick-up-his-things and Ridge-where-the-goat-jump-off are to be found.

Maps and images of Tristan da Cunha



Literature on Tristan da Cunha