Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean
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The Scattered Islands in the Indian Ocean (in French Îles éparses de l'océan indien) are five islands of the Indian Ocean with no permanent population, Bassas da India, Europa, Juan de Nova, Glorioso, and Tromelin. They are collectively administered by the prefect of the département of the Réunion on behalf of the government of France, under the authority of the ministry for oversea possessions.
The islands have been classified as natural reserves. They support meteorological stations. Those stations, especially the one on Tromelin island, are of capital interest for the prevision of cyclones threatening Madagascar, Réunion or Mauritius.
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Bassas da India
Bassas da India, located at 21°30′ S 39°50′ E, form an uninhabited group of Indian Ocean islands off the southern coast of Africa in the southern Mozambique Channel, about half-way between Madagascar and Mozambique. Their surface area totals 0.2 km², with a combined coastline 35.2 km in length.
The islands are a maritime hazard since they are usually under water during high tide (highest point is only 2.4 m) and surrounded by reefs. They are also subject to periodic cyclones.
The islands are part of an atoll and emerge from a circular reef that sits atop a long-extinct, submerged volcano. Their terrain consists wholly of volcanic rock. The local climate is tropical. The islands have no ports and harbours, only offshore anchorages, and no agricultural and economic activity.
Europa Island (French: Île Europa) is a 28 km² tropical island in the Mozambique Channel, about one-half of the way from southern Madagascar to southern Mozambique, at 22°20′ S 40°22′ E. It has 22.2 kilometers of coastline, but no ports or harbors, only offshore anchorage.
It is covered by mangrove forests and woodlands and has a wildlife sanctuary, but negligible natural resources.
The island has no indigenous inhabitants and no economic activity, though there is a small French military garrison which staffs a meteorological station, and a single unpaved airstrip about 1000 meters long.
The Glorioso Islands (French: Îles Glorieuses) are an uninhabited 5 km² group of islands in the Indian Ocean at 11°30′ S 47°20′ E, northwest of Madagascar. It is a French possession since 1892, but also claimed by Madagascar.
The Glorioso Islands are composed of two lushly vegetated coral islands (Île Glorieuse and Île du Lys) and three rock islets. A military garrison operates a weather and radio station on Île Glorieuse. The islands are also visited by scientists.
The climate is tropical and the terrain is low and flat, varying from sea level to 12 m. This islands are entirely covered by lush vegetation and coconut palms. There is an unpaved airport and offshore anchorage.
Juan de Nova
It is a possession of France administered by a high commissioner of the Republic in Réunion and defended by France, but is also claimed by Madagascar. Its data code is JU. Its only railway is a short line going to a jetty, it has no ports or harbors, offshore anchorage only, and only one airport, an unpaved strip about 1000 meters long.
The island has no indigenous population, though there is a small military garrison and a meteorological station. 90% of the island is a forested wildlife sanctuary. Its only exploitable natural resources are guano deposits and other fertilizers. 12,000 tons of guano are mined per year.
Tromelin Island (French: Île Tromelin) is an uninhabited one km² island in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar (Geographic coordinates 15°52′ S 54°25′ E). First explored by the French in 1776, the island came under the jurisdiction of Réunion in 1814. It is now a possession of France but not a part of the départment of Réunion. The island is also claimed by Mauritius.
At present, it serves as a sea turtle sanctuary and is the site of an important meteorological station.
The island has no ports or harbors and offers offshore anchorage only. As of 2003, there was one airport with an unpaved runway under 914 meters long. The terrain is low, flat, and sandy with scattered bushes. The elevation varies from sea level to 7 meters.