|Motto: "Liberté, égalité, fraternité"|
|Anthem: La Marseillaise|
Orthographic projection centred over Île Amsterdam.
|Nickname: Nouvelle Amsterdam|
Map of Île Amsterdam.
|Area||55 km2 (21.2 sq mi)|
|Length||10 km (6 mi)|
|Width||7 km (4.3 mi)|
|Highest elevation||867 m (2,844 ft)|
|Highest point||Mont de la Dives|
Île Amsterdam (French pronunciation: [ilamstəʁˈdam], also known as Amsterdam Island, New Amsterdam, or Nouvelle Amsterdam, is an island named after the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It lies in the southern Indian Ocean. It is part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands and, together with neighbouring Île Saint-Paul 85 km (53 mi) to the south, forms one of the five districts of the territory. Its base, the Martin-de-Viviès research station, first called Camp Heurtin, then La Roche Godon, and the only settlement on the island, is the capital of the territory and is home to about 30 non-permanent inhabitants involved in biological, meteorological and geomagnetic studies.
The island was discovered by the Basque Spanish explorer Juan Sebastián Elcano on 18 March 1522, in the course of his voyage of global circumnavigation. However, he did not name the island. Having found the island unnamed, Dutch captain Anthonie van Diemen named it Nieuw Amsterdam after his ship on 17 June 1633. The first recorded landing was made in December 1696 by Dutchman Willem de Vlamingh.
French Captain Pierre François Péron says he was marooned from 1792 to 1795 on the island. Peron's Memoires, in which he describes his experiences, were published in a limited edition which is an expensive collectors' item. There was confusion in the early days between Amsterdam and Saint Paul Islands. In February 1793 Sir George Staunton on his way to China on board the H.M.S. Lion found a sealer named Perron and four others on the southern of the two islands, now called Saint Paul Island.
In Autumn 1833 the British ship Lady Munro was wrecked at the island and 21 survivors were picked up two weeks later by a sealing vessel.
In January 1871 an attempt to settle the island was made by a party led by Heurtin, a French resident of Réunion Island. After seven months there, their attempts to raise cattle and grow crops were unfruitful and they returned to Réunion, abandoning the cattle on the island.
The islands of Île Amsterdam and Île Saint-Paul were first claimed by Martin Dupeyrat for France in 1843. However, the governor of Réunion refused to ratify the act of possession and France took formal control only in October 1892.
The islands were attached to Madagascar in 1924 and became a French colony. The first French base on Amsterdam was established in 1949, and was originally called Camp Heurtin. The Global Atmosphere Watch still maintains a presence on Amsterdam.
Amsterdam island, along with Saint Paul Island, is considered by some Mauritian parties as a national territory. The question of Mauritian sovereignty over the two islands was raised in 2007 by the leader of the opposition, Paul Raymond Berenger. This new claim could be raised in discussions with France, along with a claim to Tromelin Island which has been officially maintained for a long time.
The volcanic island is a potentially active volcano which last erupted in 1792. It has an area of 55 km2 (21 sq mi), measuring about 10 km (6.2 mi) on its longest side, and reaches as high as 867 m (2,844 ft) at the Mont de la Dives. The high central area of the island, at an elevation of over 500 metres (1,600 ft), containing its peaks and caldera, is known as the Plateau des Tourbières (in English the Plateau of Bogs). The cliffs that characterise the western coastline of the island, rising to over 700 metres (2,300 ft), are known as the Falaises d'Entrecasteaux after 18th century French navigator Bruni d'Entrecasteaux.
|Climate data for Martin-de-Vivies, Amsterdam Island|
|Average high °C (°F)||19.5
|Daily mean °C (°F)||16.6
|Average low °C (°F)||14.3
|Precipitation mm (inches)||96
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||177||145||134||110||107||99||104||121||123||141||150||170||1,581|
Flora and fauna
Phylica arborea trees occur on Amsterdam which, though the trees are also found on Tristan da Cunha and Gough Island, is the only place where they formed a low forest. It was called the Grand Bois, which covered the lowlands of the island until the 19th century, and of which only eight fragments remain.
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 Western Rockhopper Penguin. The Amsterdam Duck is now extinct, as are the local breeding populations of several petrels. The Common Waxbill has been introduced. Both the Plateau des Tourbières and Falaises d'Entrcasteaux have been identified as Important Bird Areas by BirdLife International, the latter for its large breeding colony of Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses.
A distinct breed of wild cattle, Amsterdam Island cattle, also inhabited the island from 1871 to 2010. They originate from the introduction of five animals by Heurtin during his brief attempt at settlement of the island in 1871, and by 1988 had increased to an estimated 2,000. Following recognition that the cattle were damaging the island ecosystems, a fence was built restricting them to the northern part of the island. In 2007 it was decided to eradicate the population of cattle entirely, resulting in the slaughter of the cattle between 2008 and 2010.
- List of volcanoes in French Southern and Antarctic Lands
- French overseas departments and territories
- Administrative divisions of France
- Islands controlled by France in the Indian and Pacific oceans
- http://archive.is/20110514062321/http://www.btinternet.com/~sa_sa/amsterdam/amsterdam_history_early.html[dead link]
- Statewide County HI Archives: News, USGenWeb Archives
- Forum Rare Books: In the news, Antiquariaat Forum
- Mémoires du capitaine Péron sur ses voyages, Google Books
- Carroll, Paul (2003-06-29). "Amsterdam/St Paul: Discovery and early history". The South Atlantic and Subantarctic Islands. Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-25.[dead link]
- Debate No. 31 of 06.11.2007 Oral answers to questions : Chagos archipelago and Tromelin Islands Mauritian sovereignty
- BirdLife International. (2012). Important Bird Areas factsheet: Falaises d'Entrecasteaux. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 2012-01-08.
- "Climate Normals for Martin de Vivies 1961-1990". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved February 28, 2013.
- "Grand Bois, Amsterdam Island". Wondermondo.
- Micol, T.; & Jouventin, P. (1995). Restoration of Amsterdam Island, South Indian Ocean, following control of feral cattle. Biological Conservation 73(3): 199-206.
- Amsterdam Island - Introduced fauna
- Sophie Lautier: "Sur l'île Amsterdam, chlorophylle et miaulements".
- 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 978-0-8050-7225-9)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Île Amsterdam.|
- photos of Ile Amsterdam and St.Paul (French site)
- Ile Amsterdam visit (photos from a tourist's recent visit)
- French Colonies—Saint-Paul & Amsterdam Islands, Discover France
- French Southern and Antarctic Lands at the CIA World Factbook
- "South Atlantic & Subantarctic Islands site, Amsterdam Island page". Archived from the original on April 22, 2009.