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World > Oceania > French Southern Territories

French Southern Territories Cheap Hotel Bed and Breakfast Guest House Accommodation

View of cliffs in the Frech Southern Territories
Raw natural beauty

Otherwise known as the Territory of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, this collection of islands in the southern Indian Ocean have been an overseas territory of France since 1955. They include two volcanic islands, Ile Saint-Paul and Ile Amsterdam, as well as two archipelagos known as Iles Crozet and Iles Kerguelen. There are no airstrips on these islands and they are accessible only by sea, with anchorage offshore. The islands are supplied by one ship called the Marion Dufresne, which has recently begun to offer cruises with a local guide around the territories to a limited number of tourists as part of its regular service. Those fortunate enough to be aboard are indeed priviledged, for its 4 to 6-day voyage will take them to some of the world’s most remote regions. The islands have no permanent inhabitants, their raw beauty is overwhelming and perfectly preserved and their ecology is unique, and diverse, with an abundance of wildlife to be seen. In fact around 700 000 hectares of this land is now classed as a nature reserve, making it the biggest as such in France, allowing the scientific research which is undertaken there to focus on the preservation and study of its exceptional land and marine ecosystems. Being so far away from any centres of human population, the islands are a natural sanctuary for animals, and present some of the world’s largest still virgin terrains. Of all of the existing sub-antarctic regions, they display the most important collection of plant and invertebrate species, demonstrating many of their fundamental evolutionary changes developed within this completely isolated habitat thousands of kilometers from the continent. Annually, between 50 and 100 people, scientists and technical personnel, stay on the islands in temporary bases, for periods of around 6 months. The Ile Amsterdam is home to a meteorological station, Ile Saint-Paul is frequented by fishermen and has a scientific research cabin, the Ile del la Possession is home to the Alfred Faure research station and the main base at Port-aux-France on Ile Kerguelen is staffed by scientists.

The Ile Amsterdam was discovered in 1522 by the Spanish and was claimed by the French in 1843, having meanwhile been named by the Dutch. It is a volcanic island with steep coastal cliffs and a central plateau. Ile Saint-Paul was a centre for the local fishing industry between 1843 and 1914. It is triangular in shape, with a rocky steep eastern side as well as having active thermal springs as a reminder of its volcanic origins. The history of the Iles Crozet revolves around activities of seal hunting and whaling during the 19 th century.

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