Beautiful photos show what life is like in the world's most isolated settlement, which sits at the foot of an active volcano in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean

Peter Schaefer/EyeEm/Getty ImagesThe most remote settlement in the world is on a volcanic island in the middle of the South Atlantic.
  • The Edinburgh of the Seven Seas settlement has been dubbed the most remote settlement in the world, and can only be reached after a nearly week-long boat trip departing from Cape Town, South Africa.
  • The settlement is home to less than 300 residents and sits on the island of Tristan da Cunha, an active volcanic island in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Sitting on the island of Tristan da Cunha, Edinburgh of the Seven Seas, one of the British Overseas Territories, has been dubbed the most remote settlement in the world.

Tristan de Cunha is actually an active volcanic island in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. The last time it erupted was in 1961, which forced islanders to evacuate to England.

The island is only accessible by boat – many of which depart from the nearest city of Cape Town, South Africa – and the journey to Tristan de Cunha takes nearly one week to complete.

Less than 300 islanders and visitors live there, but the remoteness grants the lucky few plenty of tranquility and safety.

The economy relies on the export of crawfish, known as “Tristan Rock Lobster,” but tourism also makes up a small part. However, there are no hotels on the island, so the government has created a homestay program for visitors.

Here is what life is like in the most remote settlement in the world.

Edinburgh of the Seven Seas is known as the most remote settlement in the world.

ReutersEdinburgh of the Seven Seas.

Source: Smithsonian, Insider

It lies at the edge of an island, Tristan da Cunha, in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean.

Google MapsTristan de Cunha is actually an active volcanic island.

Source: Tristan da Cunha, Insider

The island of Tristan da Cunha is more than 1,700 miles (nearly 2,800 kilometers) off the coast of Cape Town.

David Forman/Getty ImagesThe volcanic island sits 6,500 feet (2,000 meters) above sea level.

Source: Tristan da Cunha, INSIDER

The island is one of Britain’s 14 overseas territories.

Chris Ison/PA Images/Contributor/Getty ImagesA ship leaves Portsmouth Harbour in England to patrol the waters around Britain’s territories in the South Atlantic.

Source: Britain’s Treasure Islands, BBC

The settlement was named after the Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Victoria’s second son, after he visited in 1867.

Print Collector/Contributor/Getty ImagesThe Duke of Edinburgh.

Source: Traveller’s Point, Tristan da Cunha

There are less than 300 islanders and visitors who currently live there, including descendants from original settlers to stationed researchers.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubeAll residents prefer to just call it ‘the Settlement.’

Source: Traveller’s Point

Being the remotest settled island in the world is Tristan’s claim to fame.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubeResidents enjoy the tranquility and safety that comes with being so remote.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

The island is so remote that the government actually recommends visitors start to plan their trips a year in advance.

Geoff Renner/robertharding/Getty ImagesVisiting the island is not easy.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

Before even booking a flight, prospective visitors need to get their trip approved by the Tristan government.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubeTourists must look at the shipping schedule to ensure their spot on a boat.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

Once visitors have timing ideas, they need to email the Secretary to the Administrator and provide reasons for their visit and what they hope to do while on the island.

Brian Gratwicke/FlickrAn email explaining your intent to visit is essential.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

The island is only accessible by boat across the South Atlantic Ocean — most trips leave from Cape Town, South Africa.

Mark Hannaford/Getty ImagesArriving to the island after a nearly week-long journey must feel incredible.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

The trip from Cape Town’s port takes approximately six days, and the ships leave on an inconsistent schedule — sometimes they set sail multiple times per month and sometimes they skip a month entirely. The government suggests padding travel time in Cape Town with an additional two days.

GuilhermeMesquita/ShutterstockThe inconsistent shipping schedule is a big reason for needing to plan your trip way in advance.

Source: Tristan da Cunha, Tristan da Cunha

Voyages are also listed on the South African National Antarctic Programme’s schedule. The route isn’t simple though and makes six stops in total. There are a handful of different ships, including the S.A. Agulhas, that cross the route.

Ossewa/Wikimedia Commons/Attribution-Share AlikeVery few tourists visit the island because of the taxing journey to get there.

Source: South African National Antarctic Programme

Two are fishing vessels provided by the fishing company Ovenstones, which only carry 12 passengers each.

Ian Sherlock/Wikimedia Commons/Attribution-Share AlikeA fishing boat is one way to get to the island.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

The settlement is known for its high levels of hospitality and will welcome all visitors after the long journey.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubeThe settlement does not have hotels, and most visitors stay with local residents.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

One islander told a reporter from Redfern Natural History Productions that it’s one giant family-like community, and everyone is there to help each other out.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubeResidents all work together and are like one big family.

Source: Redfern Natural History Productions

The islander said if someone kills a large animal for eating, they share it. If someone’s home is destroyed, someone else will host them or help them repair it.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubeThe island residents put others before themselves and are always willing to lend a helping hand.

Source: Redfern Natural History Productions

“Everyone on the island, we call them brothers and sisters,” he said.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubeThe family-like community keeps the island strong.

Source: Redfern Natural History Productions

He also said, “It’s safe” in terms of criminal activity. Children can run around without supervision…

Source: Redfern Natural History Productions

… and he says they don’t lock their doors. Even if they travel out to where the potato patches are, they can leave all the windows open and nothing would happen.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubeThe residents have high levels of trust amongst each other.

Source: Redfern Natural History Productions

Another native islander was asked about what it was like to grow up on Tristan. He joked: “Pretty good, as long as you can find something to do.”

Where’s Andrew?/YouTubeGrowing up on the settlement is way different than city life.

Source: Where’s Andrew

He said there’s an element of freedom he’s able to get on the island that he didn’t have when he spent time in England — freedom to roam around and explore the natural landscape.

Where’s Andrew/YouTubeSpending lots of time in nature can do wonders for your overall wellbeing.

Source: Where’s Andrew

Edinburgh of the Seven Seas is a rural settlement, which sustains itself by growing mainly potatoes on patches of land about a mile away from the town.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubePotatoe patches can be found nearby the town.

Source: Redfern Natural History Productions

The farming part of life in Tristan allows islanders to grow their own food without having to import.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubeA resident harvests a bunch of potatoes.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

There’s one road that leads to the patches …

Where’s Andrew/YouTubeThe single road out to the fields.

Source: Redfern Natural History Productions

… and anyone can take the bus to get there.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubeThe bus that transports visitors and residents to the patches.

Source: Redfern Natural History Productions

Every family living on the island has a few fields to grow potatoes and other crops.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubeA family’s individual crops.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

They harvest inside “walled patches” made from volcanic rock, and use hand tools rather than harvesting machinery.

Where’s Andrew/YouTubeA family’s walled patch.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

They can also use the space to take care of their livestock and let them graze.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubePlenty of residents have their own livestock.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

The numbers of livestock each family owns are controlled by the government to prevent overgrazing of the limited land — each household can own two cows, while a single householder can only have one.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubeThe government regulates how much livestock each family can own.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

More than 40% of the island’s territory is declared a nature reserve.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubeThe island works to remove rodents like rats because they destroy the island’s indigenous bird life.

Source: Britain’s Treasure Islands

Animal life includes rare bird breeds and Northern Rockhopper penguins.

Auscape/Contributor/Getty ImagesTristan islanders call the penguins ‘pinnamins.’

Source: Tristan da Cunha

There are three different species of albatross native to the island, but the albatross are threatened by mice every year.

David Forman/Getty ImagesPictured above is the yellow-nosed albatross.

Source: Island Conservation, Tristan da Cunha

The same boats that brought people to the island brought mice and rats as well. In killing the chicks of native birds, the rodents could be eradicating a number of species.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubeEfforts are made to remove the rats and mice, but getting to a point of a rodent-free island is difficult.

Source: RSPB, Tristan da Cunha

In fact, it’s such a problem that the islanders have an entire holiday dedicated to ridding the island of the vermin — Ratting Day.

Courtesy of Tristan da Cunha Photo PortfolioTeams of men compete on Ratting Day to remove the troublesome rats.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

On this holiday, men team up and compete to see who can catch the most, and the biggest, rats and mice — it was an idea thought up before mice repellent existed on the island.

Courtesy of Tristan da Cunha Photo PortfolioOn Ratting Day in 2019, a gong sounded at 7:00 am to alert the settlement that the day had begun.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

Judges count the rats and measure the tails to decide which team wins.

Courtesy of Tristan da Cunha Photo PortfolioThe Medical, Veterinary, and Agricultural Officers act as judges.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

After hunting in and around the potato patches, teams return to Prince Philip Hall to receive prizes and have a dance-filled celebration of the day.

Redfern Natural History Products/YouTubeAt the end of the day, teams enjoy refreshments in their homes before heading to celebrate.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

Holidays also include Old Year’s Night on December 31 to bring in the new year, and Queen’s Day to celebrate the Queen’s birthday.

WPA Pool via Getty ImagesQueen Elizabeth II.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

The residents also celebrate traditional Catholic holidays, including Easter.

Kent Kobersteen/Getty ImagesResidents at Saint Mary’s Anglican Church on Easter Sunday.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

The church was built in 1923 and was the first on the island.

David Forman/Getty ImagesThe island has four churches in total.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

Before the church was created, islanders held services in people’s homes.

David Forman/Getty ImagesThe church is a great way for islanders to come together in one communal space.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

Islanders say they feel a sense of community while dealing with death just as much as they do while living and celebrating life.

Kent Kobersteen/Getty ImagesIf there is a death during the week, usually the workday will be cut short.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

“Whether family or not, a passing touches the hearts of the whole community, and this is when you see islanders not only as a community but as a family,” wrote one islander, Dawn Repetto, on the community’s website.

Kent Kobersteen/Getty ImagesLadies on the island usually collect flowers and make wreaths.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

Roughly seventy families call Edinburgh of the Seven Seas home — they’re reportedly all farmers.

Mark Hannaford/Getty ImagesAnimals graze on communal pastures.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

Of the 253 people currently living on the island, 23 are not part of the permanent group of residents. And of the 246 permanent islanders, there are only nine different last names.

Where’s Andrew/YouTubeIslanders spend time knitting together.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

Scientists visit the island to gather information on the rare plant and animal species living on the island among the volcanic rock.

David Forman/Getty ImagesThere are plenty of rare botanic species for scientists to study.

Source: Smithsonian

There’s also a station that monitors radioactivity and seismic waves where scientists come to work as well.

Source: Smithsonian

The settlement has all the basics you would expect from any small town today. It’s got a supermarket …

Source: Redfern Natural History Productions

… an internet cafe, since WiFi isn’t so easily accessible …

Source: Redfern Natural History Productions

… several handy stores …

Source: Redfern Natural History Productions

… a police force, although there’s said to be just one police officer on the job …

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubeThe town doesn’t seem to need much policing.

Source: Redfern Natural History Productions, Where’s Andrew?

… bus stops where you can catch a ride to the potato patches …

David Forman/Getty ImagesA small bus stop to wait in.

Source: Redfern Natural History Productions

… and a few bars.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubeEvery town needs a bar or two.

Source: Redfern Natural History Productions, Tristan da Cunha

Their local economy depends largely on the harvest of rock lobster — which they sell internationally — and fish.

David Forman/Getty ImagesLobster boats docked along the coast of the island.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

They also sell postage stamps to collectors abroad …

RFStock/Getty ImagesCollectors worldwide are interested in buying stamps.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

… and make a limited amount through tourism.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubeTourism is a chance for outsiders to learn about the settlement and support local islanders.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

While some cruise ships have added the port to their route from Africa to Latin America so tourists can have a peek into this style of remote life, it’s generally not somewhere people just pass through.

David Forman/Getty ImagesTourists get a chance to see unusual and rare birds.

Source: Smithsonian, Lonely Planet

But for the tourists that do make it to the island, there are a few options when it comes to tourist accommodations.

Where’s Andrew/YouTubeA resident welcomes visitors with open arms.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

Some islanders open up their homes to visitors on a homestay basis. They collect 75% of the guest fees while the other 25% goes to the government.

Peter Schaefer/EyeEm/Getty ImagesHomestays are a great option to immerse yourself in the island culture.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

There’s a museum called “Traditional Thatched House Museum” that’s available as a guesthouse for one night for two people. The price includes tea, coffee, milk, sugar, candles, sleeping bags, and a “traditional Tristan cooked meal” for lunch.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubeStaying in the museum is a special experience.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

Tourists can climb the active volcano on their visit. This peaceful, quiet settlement was almost destroyed in 1961 when the volcano erupted and sent lava spewing down the mountains.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubeHiking gives tourists an aerial view of the settlement.

Source: Tristan da Cunha, Redfern Natural History Productions

You can see here how close the lava got to the settlement. It stopped before it reached the buildings.

Source: Tristan da Cunha, Redfern Natural History Productions

It left behind a great deal of volcanic rock.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubeThe volcanic rock can be found all along the hike.

Source: Tristan da Cunha, Redfern Natural History Productions

Islanders were forced to evacuate. Most went to England, where they got a taste of modern life.

Terence Spencer/Getty ImagesWhen the islanders evacuated, the UK government assumed it was permanent.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

An islander told the Redfern Natural History Productions reporter the first time he had ever ridden in a car was in England during the evacuation. He said he only really rides on donkeys on Tristan.

Redfern Natural History Productions/YouTubeEven though the UK government expected residents to stay, a ballot was conducted and ruled 148 to 5 in favour of returning.

Source: Redfern Natural History Productions

By November of 1963, all the islanders who chose to reject the swinging sixties in the UK had returned back to their settlement to carry on their legacy.

Carl Mydans/Contributor/Getty ImagesA boat filled with islanders returning home to Tristan da Cunha in 1963.

Source: Tristan da Cunha

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.