Middle of Nowhere!

The World's Most Remote Locations

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Dear Wonderer,

Have you ever wondered...

What is the most remote location in the world?

What is the most remote location in the contiguous United States?

What is the most remote inhabited location in the world?


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Find it Out!

Technology has allowed us to reach places that are seemingly unreachable. The most wild, unknown parts of the world have become increasingly accessible through roads, waterways and air travel. With this in mind, the most remote places of the world will only continue to become less remote. There are interesting historical factors to consider in understanding why populations settle where they do. There is a reason the most remote locations are so remote. Their remoteness is directly correlated to the lack of nearby development. Remoteness, therefore, is a result of a location’s difficulty in being reached (inaccessibility) in addition to its distance from the nearest inhabited location (isolation). With this criteria, we will look at the world’s most remote locations. First, the most remote areas of the contiguous United States.


The western United States is full of remote areas. Any long distance road trip through the West will reveal this. Long stretches of freeway through states such as Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, or Eastern Oregon seem to go on forever with no presence of human life in sight. With the former criteria, the southeastern section of Yellowstone National Park may contain the most remote location. Within this area, one can find themselves more than 20 miles from any road creating for a high degree of inaccessibility. The next three most remote wilderness areas (Escalante in Utah, the Frank Church/River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho and the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana) are always at least within 15 miles of a road. Obviously, remoteness is directly correlated to wildness and has a direct impact on wildlife populations and overall biodiversity. Roads disrupt the ecosystem of any given area and depending on the intensity of traffic and use, a busy road can truly change a large chunk of land. Ironically, this designation has made this section of Yellowstone a “popular” destination for backpackers. In addition to the aforementioned Wilderness areas, other notable remote spots in the contiguous United States include: Hinsdale County, Colorado (more roadless land per capita than anywhere else in the U.S.), Supai, Arizona (most remote town in the U.S.) and Southeast Oregon.


Poles of inaccessibility is a geographical term used to describe places that are either the farthest removed from land or, conversely, from the ocean. The North and South Poles may often be considered the most remote locations on the planet, as they are the furthest points from the equator. Based on land mass, however, there are contested points of inaccessibility that are not the North and South Pole. They are contested in regards to whether or not the connected ice sheets or just the permanent land mass should be considered. In addition to the Arctic and Antarctic Poles of Inaccessibility, there are continental poles of inaccessibility and oceanic poles of inaccessibility. The oceanic pole of inaccessibility lies in the Pacific Ocean and is nicknamed Point Nemo. Because of the various islands of Oceania, Point Nemo is not necessarily in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but rather lies between New Zealand and Chile. In regards to the continental pole of inaccessibility, the general consensus has long been the Eurasian Pole of Inaccessibility which sits near Xinjiang, China near the Kazakhstani border. There have been challenges to this designation, however, citing the Gulf of Ob in northern Siberia. The ambiguity of land masses makes these designations complicated and contested. It should also be noted that these designations are different than the designation discussed earlier in Yellowstone National Park, as these do not take road accessibility into account. The continental poles of inaccessibility, rather, are solely based on distance from the ocean.


The Atlantic Ocean is full of remote islands, some hardly explored. Tristan da Cunha is one such island, lying 1,491 miles from the nearest continent. What makes this remote island so unique, however, is that it is inhabited by a mere 300 residents. To arrive, one must take a six-day boat journey from South Africa. The island was believed to first be discovered by Tristan da Cunha, a Portuguese explorer, in 1506. The United Kingdom annexed the island in 1816 which led to settlement and establishment of a civilian population. The Island is part of the British overseas territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. All inhabitants are farmers and make their living from stock and fishing. it is a communal society where the land is communally owned and all people are involved in the daily workings. Tourism also has a major impact on the local economy. The entire population is believed to have come from only 15 ancestors and shares just 9 surnames.


Online Sources:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-2982772/Tristan-da-Cunha-world-s-remote-island.html

http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/most-remote-place.htm

http://basementgeographer.com/poles-of-inaccessibility-the-most-obscure-places-on-earth/

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Try it Out!

1. Use Google Earth to explore and locate the world’s most remote locations. In addition, find websites with interesting Google Earth locations and exploration tips.


http://twistedsifter.com/2014/02/50-amazing-finds-on-google-earth/

http://www.noupe.com/inspiration/photography/40-bizarre-and-cool-google-earth-photos.html


2. Use unique maps such as this one to familiarize yourself with the concept of isolation and inaccessibility in the United States! What are some other unique maps that show this?


3. What would the logistics be for planning a trip to the most remote locations in the world? Pick one of the several locations mentioned above and write out an itinerary on what it would take to reach that location! Use travel websites and Google Maps to plan your journey!

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