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New Amsterdam, Amsterdam Island, or (Fr.) Île Amsterdam ( ; named after Amsterdammarker, the Dutch capital) is a Frenchmarker island in the Indian Oceanmarker located at . It is part of the French Southern and Antarctic Landsmarker.


The volcanic island is a potentially active volcano which last erupted in 1792. It has an area of 55 km² (21 mi²), measuring 21 km (13 mi) on its longest side, and reaches as high as 867 m (2844 ft) at the Mont de la Dives.

The island is part of the French Southern and Antarctic Landsmarker (Terres australes et antarctiques françaises; TAAF), and together with neighboring Île Saint-Paulmarker (85 km to the South) forms one of the five districts of the territory. Its base, Martin-de-Vivièsmarker, formerly called La Roche Godonmarker, is the capital of the territory.

Unlike most parts of TAAF, Île Amsterdam has a mild, oceanic climate, with a mean annual temperature of 13°C (55°F), rainfall of 1,100 mm, persistent westerly winds and high levels of humidity.[74372]

Île Amsterdam is one of only three islands which are land antipodes of the continental United Statesmarker. It corresponds to an area near Lamar, Coloradomarker. The other two antipodes are île Saint-Paul and Kerguelen Islandmarker.

The only human habitation is at the Martin de Viviès base with about 30 inhabitants related to the study of fauna, weather, the atmosphere and geomagnetism.

Flora and fauna

(see Amsterdam and Saint-Paul Islands temperate grasslands)

The island has Phylica arborea trees, which are also found on Tristan da Cunhamarker and Gough Islandmarker.



The island is home to the endemic Amsterdam albatross, which breeds only on the Plateau des Tourbières. Other rare species are the great skua, Antarctic tern and Gentoo penguin. The Amsterdam Island duck is now extinct, as are the local breeding populations of several petrels. The common waxbill has been introduced.


There are no native land mammals. Subantarctic fur seals and southern elephant seals breed on the island. Introduced mammals include the house mouse and brown rat. Feral cats are present.

A herd of wild cattle also inhabits the island. They originate from the introduction of five animals by Heurtin after his stay on the island in 1871, and by 1988 had increased to an estimated 2000. Following recognition that the cattle were damaging the island ecosystems, a fence was built restricting them to a small area of the island.Micol, T.; & Jouventin, P. (1995). Restoration of Amsterdam Island, South Indian Ocean, following control of feral cattle. Biological Conservation 73(3): 199-206.[74373]


This island was discovered by the Spanishmarker explorer Juan Sebastián Elcano on March 18, 1522, along his first world circumnavigation. Elcano did not name the island, however.

Having found the island unnamed, the Dutch captain Anthonie van Diemen named it Nieuw Amsterdam (Dutch for New Amsterdam) after his ship in 1633.
Map of Île Amsterdam.

French Captain Pierre François Péron (not to be confused with François Péron) was marooned three years on this island (from 1792 to 1795). Peron's Memoires, in which he describes his survival alone on New Amsterdam, were published in a limited edition and are now an expensive collectors' item.

The islands of Île Amsterdam and Île Saint-Paul were attached to Madagascarmarker in 1924 and hence became a French colony.

Though, Amsterdam island, along with Saint-Paul island, is considered by some Mauritian parts as a national territory. Question of Mauritian sovereignty over these two islands has been carried out by the leader of the opposition in 2007, Paul Raymond Berenger. This new claim could be put on discussion with France, in combination with claim over Tromelin island which has been officially held for a long time.

The first French base in New Amsterdam was erected in 1949, and was originally called Camp Heurtin. The Global Atmosphere Watch still has a research station on Île Amsterdam.

See also


  1. Amsterdam Island - Introduced fauna
  2. Statewide County HI Archives: News, USGenWeb Archives
  3. Forum Rare Books: In the news, Antiquariaat Forum
  4. Mémoires du capitaine Péron sur ses voyages, Google Books
  5. Debate No. 31 of 06.11.2007 Oral answers to questions : Chagos archipelago and Tromelin islands Mauritian sovereignty

Further reading

  • Pierre François Péron, Mémoires du Capitaine Péron, sur ses Voyages aux Côtes d’Afrique, en Arabie, a l’Île d’Amsterdam, aux Îles d’Anjouan et de Mayotte, aux Côtes Nord-Oeust de l’Amérique, aux Îles Sandwich, a la Chine, etc., Paris 1824
  • Alfred van Cleef, The lost island. Alone among the fruitful and multiplying, Metropolitan, New York 2004 (ISBN 9780805072259)

External links

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