15 of the Most Remote Places on Earth

These islands and towns are home to some of the most isolated settlements.

Indigenous monolithic statues on Easter Island, Chile

Michael Dunning / Getty Images

Sometimes you just want to get away from it all—escape to a tiny island in the middle of the ocean, perhaps thousands of miles away from the nearest neighbor, or run off to a town in the Peruvian Andes 16,000 feet above sea level. Some of the most remote places on Earth are, indeed, inhabited by people. These especially hardy populations have adapted to their abnormal circumstances, whether it be living on a volcanic island in the Pacific or on the South Pole.

The locales on this list are about as far away as you can be from anything else. And getting there involves long flights, day-long drives, week-long boat rides, and—in one instance—an eight-mile hike. If you like extremes, try visiting these 15 remote islands, towns, and settlements around the world.

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Tristan Da Cunha, South Atlantic Ocean

"Welcome to the remotest island" sign in Tristan Da Cunha

Brian Gratwicke / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The volcanic island of Tristan Da Cunha in the South Atlantic Ocean has the honor of being the most remote point on Earth inhabited by humans. Part of a five-island archipelago that shares its name, Tristan Da Cunha is 1,750 miles from Cape Town, South Africa, and occupies only 38 square miles.

Edinburgh of the Seven Seas is the main settlement on Tristan Da Cunha, and it has 241 permanent inhabitants, as of 2022—all British citizens (it's a British Overseas Territory). Land is communally owned and outsiders are prohibited from purchasing property. The economy is based on subsistence farming and fishing, selling stamps, and limited tourism.

There's no airport, so the only way to get there is by boat from South Africa, a trip that takes six days. Fishing boats come eight or nine times a year.

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Pitcairn Islands, Southern Pacific Ocean

Boat yard and palms on Pitcairn Island

Michael Dunning / Getty Images

The Pitcairn Islands, a group of four volcanic islands in the Southern Pacific Ocean, are also part of the British Overseas Territories. Only one, the two-square-mile landmass that is Pitcairn Island, is inhabited. According to the government website, "The people of Pitcairn are descended from the mutineers of HMAV (Her Majesty's Armed Vessel) Bounty and their Tahitian companions."

In the decade following a 2004 child sexual abuse scandal, in which the mayor and five other men were imprisoned, the population of Pitcairn Island dwindled. Since then, the government has tried to give land away for free to grow the community. According to the Pitcairn Island Economic Review, the 2013 population was 49.

The island is opening for tourism at the end of March 2022, after being temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can now take a freighter ship from New Zealand to the islands or check out the usual sailing schedule.

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Easter Island, Chile

Monolithic statues on Easter Island

David Rius & Núria Tuca / Getty Images

Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, is technically part of Chile, even though the remote island sits about 2,200 miles off the coast. It's more than 2,600 miles from Tahiti (from which many tourists travel), 1,200 miles from Pitcairn Island, and 1,600 miles from the largest of the Gambier Islands in French Polynesia, Mangareva.

The island is famous for its 887 monolithic statues, called moai, which were carved out of volcanic rock by indigenous Rapa Nui people between 1250 and 1500 C.E. The island is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, housing fewer than 8,000 permanent residents.

Coincidentally, this remote island is the closest landmass to the oceanic pole of inaccessibility. Also known as Point Nemo, it's a location in the ocean (48°52.6′S 123°23.6′W) that is farthest from land. Point Nemo is more than 1,000 miles from the coasts of Easter Island, Ducie Island (one of the Pitcairn Islands), and Maher Island off the coast of Antarctica.

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Devon Island, Canada

View of Devon Island from the water

GeoStock / Getty Images

Devon Island (known as Tallurutit in Inuktitut) in Canada's Nunavut Territory is the largest uninhabited island on the planet with a landscape so cold, rocky, and isolated that scientists have spent two decades there pretending it's Mars. The seasonal simulation expeditions are centered around and named after Devon Island's 12.5-mile-wide, 23-million-year-old meteorite impact crater, Haughton. This is where NASA has tested robots, spacesuits, drills, and other space tools since the '90s.

While not as remote as Easter Island, you'll still be fairly far from the nearest civilization. Cornwallis Island, with a population of about 200, is 50 miles away.

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Kerguelen Islands, Southern Indian Ocean

Aerial view of the Rallier du Baty peninsula

B.navez / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Situated more than 2,000 miles away from civilization, these islands in the southern Indian Ocean are also known as the Desolation Islands due to their incredibly remote location. Grande Terre is the biggest island in the volcanic archipelago, a French territory consisting of 300 islands covering an area about the size of Delaware.

There are no native people living in the Kerguelen Islands, but a small population of scientists, ranging from about 50 in the winter to 100 in the summer, live and conduct research in the only settlement, Port-aux-Français. They study the heavily glaciated geography that includes active glaciers and peaks of nearly 6,500 feet in height. The only way to travel to the Kerguelen Islands is by a ship that leaves only four times a year.

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Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland

Homes in the village of Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland

Arctic-Images / Getty Images

Frozen for nine months out of the year, Ittoqqortoormiit is tucked between Greenland’s National Park (the largest in the world, spanning about 604,000 square miles) and Scoresby Sound (the largest fjord on Earth, covering an area of 23,600 square miles).

Of the some 56,000 people estimated to live in Greenland in 2021, 450 of them reside in this tiny remote settlement, dotted with rainbow-hued houses, mountains, and glaciers, surrounded by about 600 miles of uninhabited land on all sides.

The area is known for its wildlife and marine life, such as polar bears, seals, muskoxen, halibut, and whales. Ittoqqortoormiit has a local pub that opens one night a week. Residents take a helicopter to and from the nearest airport. In warmer weather, they also may take a boat.

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Oymyakon, Russia

Highway Kolyma in Oymyakonsky district at sunrise

Tatiana Gasich / Getty Images

Oymyakon, Russia, is located closer to the Arctic Circle than to the nearest major city—Yakutsk, 576 miles away. About 500 hardy people live in this corner of Siberia, which holds the record for the coldest inhabited place on Earth. Its record low temperature is minus 90 degrees Fahrenheit, which was recorded on February 6, 1933.

Such an extreme northerly position means the sky is dark for 21 hours a day during the winter. In the summer, it's dark for only three hours each day. The climate is so hostile that planes can't land during the winter, making the town a two-day drive from the nearest major city.

But locals have their survival tricks, such as a diet of reindeer and horse milk, which contain micronutrients, and ox meat, which supplies the body with enough calories to fight the elements.

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The Changtang, Tibet

Nomads on the Changtang, Tibet

John Hill / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

This region's unprecedented heights have earned it the nickname "Roof of the World." The Changtang, located on the Tibetan Plateau (itself more than 2.5 miles above sea level), soars about four miles above sea level. In other words, it's one of the highest points on Earth.

The climate here is extremely cold due to the altitude, with Arctic-like winters. Summers can be warm but short, with sudden thunderstorms and hailstorms. The region boasts vast highlands and giant lakes, and wildlife is plentiful, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The few hundred thousand nomads (called Changpa) that call the Changtang home share their territory with chiru, snow leopards, kiang, brown bears, black-necked cranes, and wild yaks. Most of the area is protected under the Changtang Nature Reserve, the second-largest terrestrial nature reserve in the world.

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Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica

Flags and people at the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station

Christopher Michel / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

Antarctica's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station sits 9,000 feet above sea level on a drifting ice sheet 850 nautical miles south of McMurdo Station. The South Pole sees only one day and one night per year—each lasting six months straight. And temperatures can dip as low as minus 90, making it one of the coldest places on the planet.

It's not inhabited, so it doesn't compete with Oymyakon, Russia, for the coldest place to live, but the station has been continuously occupied by 50 to 200 American researchers since it was built in November 1956.

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Villa Las Estrellas, Antarctica

Chilean settlement of Villa Las Estrellas on King George Island

SnowSwan / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Villa Las Estrellas is a Chilean village and research station, home to fewer than 200 people, on King George Island, about 75 miles off the coast of Antarctica and almost 2,000 miles from southern Chile. It's so remote that the people who live here must have their appendixes removed before arriving, the BBC reported, because the nearest major hospital is 600 miles away.

Villa Las Estrellas (Spanish for "stars town") was established in 1984 and is now home to fewer than 200 people. The community includes 14 homes, a branch of the Bank of Credit, a public school with less than a dozen students, post office, gymnasium, hostel, and souvenir shop. Most of the people who live here are scientists or Chilean military personnel.

Sadly, there are no dogs allowed, as these could introduce canine disease to delicate Antarctic wildlife. Residents must make do with glimpses of adorable Adélie penguins and elephant seals instead.

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Palmerston Island, Pacific Ocean

Aerial view of Palmerston Island

NASA / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

This tiny atoll (1,000 square miles) located among the Cook Islands in the Pacific Ocean is made up of sandy islets connected by a diamond-shaped coral reef. Palmerston Island is the top of an old volcano on the ocean floor, and the highest point of the island rises only 13 feet above sea level.

The coral reef sits too high in the water for seaplanes to land, and outside the reef, the ocean is too rough. So, the island, which is a New Zealand protectorate, is serviced by ships only a few times a year. The 2016 census revealed that 58 people live on the island, and they are thought to have all descended from Captain James Cook, who settled there 150 years ago.

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Supai Village, Arizona

Village along the trail into Supai from Hualapai Hilltop

Elf / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has called Supai, Arizona, located within Havasu Canyon, the most remote community in the contiguous 48 states. It's the capital of the Havasupai Indian Reservation, which includes about 450 people. There are no roads; the only way in or out of the village is by helicopter or an eight-mile hiking trail, so mail gets delivered by mule.

While the village is located near the Grand Canyon, the Havasupai Tribe administers the land, which lies outside the boundary and jurisdiction of Grand Canyon National Park. Visitors can hike in to the campground, although all travel has been suspended temporarily due to the pandemic.

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Adak, Alaska

Snowy scene at Lake Leone. Adak Island, Alaska

Paxson Woelber / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

This Alaskan city “where the winds blow and friendships grow” has the distinction of being the westernmost point in the U.S. and the southernmost community in Alaska. It's located on Adak Island in the Andreanof Islands group, 1,200 miles (a three-hour flight) from Anchorage. Its proximity to Russia once prompted the U.S. Navy to erect a base and move 6,000 military personnel to the island. According to the 2020 Decennial Census, it's home to only about 171 people.

Compared to other remote locations, Adak has plenty for visitors and residents to do, including birdwatching, caribou hunting, salmon fishing, hiking on the tundra, and even dining out at the local Mexican restaurant. Adak has a subpolar oceanic climate. As its tagline suggests, winter squalls can produce 120-mph-or-higher wind gusts.

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Longyearbyen, Norway

Colorful village and snowcapped mountains by the sea

Adrian Wojcik / EyeEm / Getty Images

Longyearbyen is the world's northernmost settlement. It's located on the island of Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago, which sits about 650 miles south of the North Pole and a similar distance north of Norway. Despite its remoteness, Longyearbyen is easily accessed via the Svalbard Airport (a three-hour flight from Oslo) and has the largest settlement in the archipelago.

The roughly 2,400 people who hail from 53 different countries and yet call this city home must abide by some unusual rules, such as "no dying"—or, rather, "no being buried here"—because the permafrost and subzero temperatures are a little too good at preserving. So, terminally ill people are flown to Oslo.

Anybody venturing outside the city limits must carry a weapon and know how to use it against the resident polar bear population. All houses in Longyearbyen are built on stilts, so when the island’s layer of permafrost melts in the summer, the houses don’t sink and slide away. The town has one grocery store and a university.

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La Rinconada, Peru

Village in the shadow of snow-covered mountains, La Rinconada

Hildegard Willer / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

La Rinconada is a town in the Peruvian Andes that sits at the base of an enormous glacier more than three miles above sea level, making it the highest permanent settlement in the world. The only way to get there is by driving four hours from Puno on steep and dangerous mountain roads.

Despite having no running water and no sewage system, a reported 50,000 people live in La Rinconada. The men primarily work in unregulated gold mines, but there are also restaurants and other businesses in town. They aren't usually heated, even though the average temperature hovers around 34 degrees. Doing so would use too much electricity, which only just arrived in 2002.

It's described as a "frozen wasteland" and an "environmental catastrophe," with sewage flowing in the streets (a result of no indoor plumbing) and garbage frozen along the sides of roads (no municipal collection service). But the gold mining opportunities draw people, nonetheless.