From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search For the Amsterdam Island in the Svalbard archipelago, see Amsterdamøya.
|New Amsterdam Île Amsterdam|
|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 is one of only three land antipodes of the continental United States. It corresponds to an area about 20 miles (32 km) southeast of Lamar, Colorado (the other two land antipodes of the US are île Saint-Paul and the Kerguelen Islands).
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. 
 18th century
French Captain Pierre François Péron (not to be confused with François Péron) 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.
 19th century
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. 
 20th century
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.
 Territorial claims
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 altude of over 500 m, 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 m in height, are known as the Falaises d'Entrecasteaux after 18th Century French navigator Bruni d'Entrecasteaux.
Île Amsterdam has a mild, oceanic climate, with a mean annual temperature of 13 °C (55.4 °F), rainfall of 1,100 mm (43.3 in), persistent westerly winds and high levels of humidity.
|[hide]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 |
 Flora and fauna
Further information: Amsterdam and Saint-Paul Islands temperate grasslands Phylica arborea grove
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 Falises d'Entrcasteaux have been identified as Important Bird Areas by BirdLife International, the latter for its large breeding colony of Indian Yellow-nosed Albatrosses.
There are no native land mammals. Subantarctic fur seals and southern elephant seals breed on the island. Introduced mammals include the house mouse and brown rat. Feral cats are present.
A distinct breed of wild cattle also inhabits the island. They originate from the introduction of five animals by Heurtin after 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 only part of the island.
 See also
- 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
This post has been edited by Ian Williams: 16 March 2012 - 20:12