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Articles in Islands

St. Vincent’s Venezuelan Alliance and High-End Tourism

By Martin W. Lewis | March 15, 2011 |

Political alliances are not always what seem, given that member states can join for different reasons. Consider ALBA, the “Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our America,” founded by Hugo Chavez and designed to counter the influence of the United States in the Western Hemisphere. The leaders of the core ALBA

The Oddities and Anomalies of Svalbard

By Martin W. Lewis | December 14, 2010 | 2 Comments

The arctic archipelago of Svalbard is prominent on Mercator-projection world maps and figures as well in most pull-down geographical menus. Svalbard is also plenty interesting in its own right. News stories about the archipelago often focus on either its high-tech seed bank or its polar bears. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault was recently described

Territorial Disputes and Cultural Accommodations in Vanuatu

By Martin W. Lewis | June 30, 2010 | 2 Comments

Melanesia, as we have seen, is culturally varied. Global linguistic diversity probably reaches its extreme in the highlands of New Guinea, but Vanuatu contends for the title. Its 243,000 people speak 113 indigenous languages. According to the Wikipedia, its “density of languages, per capita, is the highest of any nation in the world, with an

Cultural Disparity and Political Solidarity in the Melanesian Island World

By Martin W. Lewis | June 28, 2010 |

The islands of the southwestern Pacific are conventionally divided into Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia, based on the writings of the French explorer Jules Dumont d’Urville from the 1830s. The etymology is Greek, with the base word nesos — hence “nesia” — meaning island, while “mela-,” micro-,” and “poly-” denote black, small, and many

Election Controversies and Ethnic Complexities on the Not-So-Tiny Island of Bougainville

By Martin W. Lewis | June 23, 2010 |

In June 2010, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea (PNG) voted out three quarters of its parliamentary representatives along with its president. Whereas the outgoing leader was a former revolutionary committed to independence, the newly elected chief executive favors continuing ties with PNG. Most sources, however, do not see a loss of

Oil Theft and Insurgency on Bougainville, Papua New Guinea

By Martin W. Lewis | June 21, 2010 |

On June 18, 2010, Australian news announced that the government of Papua New Guinea had just seized a sizable tanker filled with allegedly stolen oil. Registered in the Marshall Islands, the Singapore-bound ship was carrying crude worth an estimated $A16.3 million ($14 million US). Its 20 crew members were arrested and charged with various

Kerguelen: France’s Desolate Islands

By Martin W. Lewis | April 13, 2010 |

One of the most intriguing — and obscure — parts of France’s far-flung territorial domain is the Kerguelen Archipelago in the southern Indian Ocean, also known as the Desolation Islands. Dominated by Grande Terre Island, Kerguelen is one of the world’s largest remote oceanic landmasses; covering 2,786 square miles (7,215 km. sq.), it is roughly

No Island No Claim: The Cases of Tuvalu and Nauru

By Samuel Raphael Franco | April 5, 2010 |

In 2009, the Island of Bermeja, located in the Gulf of Mexico disappeared from site. Now, it will disappear on maps, as well.Mexico was using Bermeja to leverage a claim on oil rights in the Gulf of Mexico, after all, their state maps showed the Island as an unquestionable part of their territory.

Christmas Island: Land Crabs and Detainees

By Martin W. Lewis | March 11, 2010 |

Christmas Island is 52-square-mile rainforest-covered limestone and basalt platform several hundred miles south of Java. Most of the island is a national park, sheltering a limited and highly distinctive native fauna. It is best noted for its eponymous red crab, a land dwelling crustacean than lives in rainforest burrows – in staggering numbers.

The Tax Haven of Norfolk Island

By Martin W. Lewis | March 9, 2010 | One Comment

With just 13 square miles and 2,142 residents, Norfolk Island is not large. Lying 900 miles off Australia and 600 miles from New Zealand, it is also very remote. But Norfolk played a key role in the British colonization of the Austral realm. Extensive groves of tall, straight Norfolk Island pine

Lord Howe Island: Return of the Tree Lobster

By Martin W. Lewis | March 8, 2010 |

Isolated oceanic islands, with their small to non-existent populations and scant resources, are ignored in most discussion of global geography. Yet there are good reasons to pay them close attention. Remote islands form natural laboratories for research in biogeography, and their unique assemblages of flora and fauna are highly vulnerable to introduced species and

New Caledonia’s Unique Troubles

By Martin W. Lewis | March 5, 2010 |

Yesterday’s post referred to the French-controlled island of New Caledonia as a “nano-continent.” Owing in part to its continental origins, New Caledonia is classified as a biodiversity “hotspot” by Conservation International, noted for its large number of threatened endemic species. New Caledonia also occupies a unique position in terms of human geography. Its official status

Argentina’s Claims to the Falkland Islands, and Much More

By Martin W. Lewis | February 24, 2010 | 6 Comments

The Falkland Islands, known in Spanish as the Malvinas, are back in the news, as Argentina reasserts its claims while objecting to offshore oil exploration in the vicinity by British firms. In 1982 the Falklands made global headlines when Argentina unsuccessfully attempted to militarily wrest control of the archipelago from the United Kingdom.

The Andaman Islands: Cultural Extinction, Paleolithic Survival, and Modern Naval Warfare

By Martin W. Lewis | February 23, 2010 | One Comment

In February 2010, a number of major media outlets reported the death of Boa Sr, the last speaker of Bo in India’s Andaman Islands. Sadly, there is nothing unusual about the extinction of Bo; a language disappears somewhere in the world roughly once a month. Some 500 languages are spoken by fewer than ten

The Republic of Hau Pakumoto?

By Martin W. Lewis | February 12, 2010 |

The globe-spanning European empires of the 1800s were essentially dismantled in the decades following World War II, with one important exception. In the maritime realm, empire lingers in the form of continuing colonial control over small oceanic islands, some inhabited, others not. If one includes the 200 nautical-mile exclusive economic zones that sovereign states

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