Penguin Islands

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The Penguin Islands on an extract from an 1897 map of colonial Africa.

The Penguin Islands (Afrikaans: Pikkewyn-eilande), (German: Pinguininseln) are a group of islands and rocks situated along a stretch of 355 km along the coastline of Namibia, which formally lists them as the Off-Shore islands.

The largest island is Possession Island with 0.90 km² in area. Hollam's Bird Island is the most northern and, at a distance of 10.3 kilometres, the farthest from the coast. All islands together measure 2.35 km² in area.[1]

History[edit]

Uninhabited, strategically located, rich in guano deposits and even offshore diamond fields, the islands had considerable value for their size. They were visited by European traders from the 17th century onwards, primarily for the valuable guano.[2] Between 1861 and 1867 they were annexed by Britain, and then in 1873 by the Cape Colony. Confusion internationally over the legality of the transfer required Prime Minister John Molteno of the Cape Colony to reaffirm the annexation later, with the Ichaboe and Penguin Islands Act (1874).[3]

The annexation was originally intended to form part of an overall merger, between the Cape Colony and South West Africa, into one locally-governed country. This was to be instituted by the Palgrave Commission (1876). However British interference and the resulting break-down in relations between the British Empire and the local Cape government obstructed the Commission's work. Eventually Germany invaded and colonised South West Africa in the early 1880s, but the offshore islands (and Walvis Bay) were protected by their status as Cape constituencies.[4] This status was recognised by Germany in 1886. Thus, although close to the mainland the islands were not part of German Southwest Africa.[5]

Because of their geographic separation from South Africa the islands were considered to be a separate entity ("country") for amateur radio purposes.

In 1990 South-West Africa gained independence as Namibia. However, the Penguin Islands remained under South African sovereignty, thus letting it retain an Exclusive Economic Zone off the Namibian coast. Finally, after further negotiation, at midnight on 28 February 1994 sovereignty over the islands, as well as Walvis Bay, was formally transferred to Namibia.[6]

List[edit]

Listed from the most northern to the most southern, the islands include the Penguin Islands (in the historic, narrower sense - printed in bold):

  • Hollam's Bird Island (S 24° 38' 0 E 14° 31' 0)
  • Mercury Island (S 25° 43' 0 E 14° 50' 0)
  • Ichaboe Island (S 25° 43' 0 E 14° 50' 0)
  • Black Rock (S 26° 5' 0 E 14° 58' 0)
  • Staple Rock (S 26° 22' 0 E 14° 58' 0)
  • Marshall Reef (S 26° 22' 0 E 14° 58' 0)
  • Boat Bay Rocks (S 26° 25' 0 E 15° 5' 0)
  • Seal Island (Lüderitz Bay) (S 26° 36' 0 E 15° 9' 0)
  • Penguin Island (Lüderitz Bay) (S 26° 37' 0 E 15° 9' 0)
  • Halifax Island (S 26° 39' 0 E 15° 5' 0)
  • Possession Island (S 27° 1' 0 E 15° 13' 0)
  • Albatross Rock (S 27° 7' 0 E 15° 13' 0)
  • Pomona Island (S 27° 12' 0 E 15° 15' 0)
  • North Long Island (S 26° 49' 0 E 15° 8' 0)
  • South Long Island (S 26° 50' 0 E 15° 8' 0)
  • Black Rock (S 24° 56' 0 E 14° 48' 0)
  • Black Sophie Rock (S 27° 38' 0 E 15° 31' 0)
  • Plumpudding Island (S 27° 38' 0 E 15° 32' 0)
  • Sinclair Island (Roast Beef Island) (S 27° 40' 0 E 15° 32' 0)
  • Little Roastbeef Islets (S 27° 42' 0 E 15° 32' 0)

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.nacoma.org.na/Downloading/MPA_Final-report_15August08.pdf
  2. ^ http://www.namibweb.com/guano.htm
  3. ^ Academie de Droit International de La Hague. Recueil Des Cours, 1986: Collected Courses of the Hague Academy of International Law. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1988. p.213.
  4. ^ John Dugard: Namibia-South Africa Treaty on Walvis Bay. American Society of International Law. International Legal Materials, Vol. 33, No. 6 (NOVEMBER 1994), pp. 1526-1528.
  5. ^ The map of Africa by treaty, Volume 1, pp. 345-46
  6. ^ Namibia's Walvis Bay - Origin and Rise of a Colonial Dispute (1992)

Coordinates: 26°37′01″S 15°19′16″E / 26.61694°S 15.32111°E / -26.61694; 15.32111