Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Juan de Nova Island

Juan de Nova Island, also known as Saint-Christophe, is a tropical island, flat and densely forested, around two square miles in size, located in the narrowest part of the Mozambique Channel, about one-third of the way between Madagascar and Mozambique. 

The Spanish name is a relic of history, designed to fool outsiders; geographically the island is situated within the territories of Madagascar. But you were not fooled, were you? You were correct when you made the assumption that, yes, Juan de Nova Island is owned by France. The original Juan de Nova actually worked for the Portuguese, as an admiral in their navy, though he was himself Spanish. He found the island in 1501, but the French grabbed it in 1897, and mined it for guano, which contain phosphates. Now it is mostly sea-turtles and terns of various types, and the wreckage of a former military base which I doubt the French would find worth rebuilding, because what could there possibly be in the Antarctic to make them want to keep this outpost nearby anyway?

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