Earth Beat, 14 October 2011. We cut our ties to civilisation and get out there: from the loneliest island in the world, to living in a cave, or discovering the unknown wild spaces in a megacity. Remote locations: our impact on them, and their impact on us.
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Alan Belward’s office is located in a tiny little town at the foothills of the Italian Alps – which is appropriate for someone who’s created a map of remoteness, shown left.
It charts the regions of the world which are the most cut-off: dark brown indicates the places which are hardest to get to, gold is used for cities full of millions of people.
Only 10 percent of the land area in the world is remote – defined as more than 48 hours of ground-based travel from a large city.
95 percent of the world's people live on just 10 percent of the land (source: Global Environment Monitoring).
The remotest place in the world is the Tibetan Plateau. It takes 20 days of walking and a day's drive to get to the nearest big town.
Tristan da Cunha is the main island in a volcanic group of islands in the south Atlantic Ocean. It's the most remote inhabited archipelago in the world, lying 2,816 kilometres from the nearest land, South Africa, and 3,360 kilometres from South America (source: Wikipedia).
More on the map from New Scientist.
Some people dream of retiring on a remote island, others are born on one.
Anne Green lives on Tristan da Cunha, slap bang in the middle of the South Atlantic.
In fact it was one of her ancestors, Corporal William Glass, who founded the settlement at the beginning of the 1800s.
Nowadays 262 people live there and she tells Marnie about what life’s like in such a far-flung corner of the world (more photos below).
Map - zoom out to see how remote Tristan de Cunha is:
View Larger Map
What struck him about this remote town in Western Australia was the complete absence of trees. He’s now changed all that.
With an amateur botanist’s energy and a generous spirit he’s now helped transform it into a little oasis on the edge of the desert (more photos below).
London might be a big busy capital city, but it’s also full of wild spaces where you can feel surprisingly isolated.
Ben Olins has created a map charting these pockets of green amongst the grey in a bid to show people the (semi) wildernesses on their doorsteps.
Read more about Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park
The ancient city of Petra may be one of the world’s great wonders nowadays, but in the 70s it was off the radar for all but the most intrepid travellers.
She tells Marnie that this simple existence in a cut-off community actually brought people much closer together. Marguerite's book is called Married to a Bedouin.
Technology and social media can have the uncanny ability to make us feel both connected and intimate with others, but also isolated and disconnected. Psychologist David Strayer worries about what this is doing to our relationships.
He decided to take groups of undergrad students away from their gadgets and into the wilderness with the hope of reconnecting them with each other and nature and to discover what makes them human again. He describes to Marnie how the experiment worked out. Download a PDF of the course syllabus.