Bouvet Island

Introduction This uninhabited volcanic island is almost entirely covered by glaciers and is difficult to approach. It was discovered in 1739 by a French naval officer after whom the island was named. No claim was made until 1825, when the British flag was raised. In 1928, the UK waived its claim in favor of Norway, which had occupied the island the previous year. In 1971, Norway designated Bouvet Island and the adjacent territorial waters a nature reserve. Since 1977, it has run an automated meteorological station on the island.

Bouvet Island was discovered on January 1, 1739, by Jean-Baptiste Charles Bouvet de Lozier, who commanded the French ships Aigle and Marie. However, the island's position was not accurately fixed having been placed eight degrees to the east, and Bouvet did not circumnavigate his discovery, so it remained unclear whether it was an island or part of a continent.[4]

In 1772, Captain James Cook left South Africa on a mission to find the island. However, when arriving at 54°S, 11°E where Bouvet had said he sighted the island, nothing was to be seen. Captain Cook assumed that Bouvet had taken an iceberg for an island, and he abandoned the search. [5]

The island was not sighted again until 1808, when it was spotted by James Lindsay, the captain of the Enderby Company whaler Snow Swan. Though he didn't land, he was the first to correctly fix the island's position. During this time the island was sometimes referred to as Lindsay Island, though it was not then completely certain that it was the same island as Bouvet had sighted.

The first successful landfall dates to December 1822, when Captain Benjamin Morrell of the sealer Wasp landed, hunting for seals. He took several seal skins.

On December 10, 1825, Captain Norris, master of the Enderby Company whalers Sprightly and Lively, landed on the island, named it Liverpool Island, and claimed it for the British Crown. Again, it was not known with certainty at the time that this was the same island found previously. He also reported sighting a second island nearby, which he named Thompson Island. No trace of this island now remains.

In 1898, the German Valdivia expedition of Carl Chun visited the island but did not land.

The first extended stay on the island was in 1927, when the Norwegian "Norvegia" crew stayed for about a month; this is the basis for the claim by "Norvegia" expedition leader Lars Christensen on behalf of Norway, who have named the island Bouvet Island (Bouvetøya in Norwegian).[6] The island was annexed on December 1, 1927, by a Royal Norwegian Decree of January 23, 1928, Bouvetøya became a Norwegian Territory. The United Kingdom waived its claim in favor of Norway the following year. In 1930 a Norwegian act was passed that made the island a dependent area subject to the sovereignty of the Kingdom (but not a part of the Kingdom).

In 1964, an abandoned lifeboat was discovered on the island, along with various supplies; however, the lifeboat's passengers were never found.[7]

In 1971, Bouvet Island and the adjacent territorial waters were designated a nature reserve. In the 1950s and 1960s, there was some interest from South Africa to establish a weather station, but conditions were deemed to be too hostile. The island remains uninhabited, although an automated weather station was set up there in 1977 by the Norwegians.

On September 22, 1979, a satellite recorded a flash of light (which was later interpreted as having been caused by a nuclear bomb explosion or natural event such as a meteor) in a stretch of the southern Indian Ocean between Bouvet Island and Prince Edward Islands. This flash, since dubbed the Vela Incident, is still not completely resolved.[8]

On October 19, 2007, the Norwegian Institute of Polar Research announced that satellite photos no longer show the research station built on the island in 1994. It is believed that the uninhabited station has been blown out to sea by the wind. An earthquake in the area in 2006 supposedly weakened the building's base, and is believed to have made it more exposed to the powerful winter storms in the area. An unmanned weather station on the island is reportedly still intact.

Geography Location: island in the South Atlantic Ocean, southwest of the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa)
Geographic coordinates: 54 26 S, 3 24 E
Map references: Antarctic Region
Area: total: 49 sq km
land: 49 sq km
water: 0 sq km
Area - comparative: about 0.3 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: 0 km
Coastline: 29.6 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 4 nm
Climate: antarctic
Terrain: volcanic; coast is mostly inaccessible
Elevation extremes: lowest point: South Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: Olav Peak 935 m
Natural resources: none
Land use: arable land: 0%
permanent crops: 0%
other: 100% (93% ice) (2005)
Irrigated land: 0 sq km
Natural hazards: NA
Environment - current issues: NA
Geography - note: covered by glacial ice; declared a nature reserve
Bouvet Island in fiction Bouvet is the setting of the 2004 movie Alien vs. Predator, in which it is referred to using its Norwegian name "Bouvetøya" even though in the unrated edition of the film, a satellite focuses in on the island which is geographically situated in the approximate location of Peter I Island.
The island figures prominently in the book A Grue of Ice by Geoffrey Jenkins. It also features in "Warhead" by Andy Remic
People Population: uninhabited
Government Country name: conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Bouvet Island
Dependency status: territory of Norway; administered by the Polar Department of the Ministry of Justice and Police from Oslo
Legal system: the laws of Norway, where applicable, apply
Flag description: the flag of Norway is used
Economy Economy - overview: no economic activity; declared a nature reserve
Communications Internet country code: .bv
Internet hosts: 6 (2007)
Communications - note: automatic meteorological station
Transportation Ports and terminals: none; offshore anchorage only
Military Military - note: defense is the responsibility of Norway
Transnational Issues Disputes - international: none