French Southern Territories
Amsterdam rose out of the Indian Ocean some 100,000 years ago -the last recorded eruption occurred in 1792. Halfway between South Africa and Australia, this island was first described by Pigafetta in 1522 and was later used as a beacon by the Dutch seafarers heading for India and Indonesia. In 1892 France formally took possession, but today the only human inhabitants are the staff members of the Martin-de-Viviès Research Station located on the northeastern side. Steep cliffs, some of them up to 700 meters, rise on the western side and are home to Yellow-nosed Albatrosses. The extremely rare Amsterdam Albatrosses, with only 100 known mature birds, nest in the central part of the island.