Tristan da Cunha

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Tristan da Cunha (trĬs´tăn də kōō´nə), group of volcanic islands in the S Atlantic, about midway between S Africa and S America, part of the British Saint Helena overseas territory. The only habitable island of the group is Tristan da Cunha (1999 pop. 286), formed by a volcano rising to c.6,760 ft (2,060 m). The other islands are Gough, Nightingale, and Inaccessible, the last being the home of the flightless rail, an almost extinct bird. The first inhabitants came from St. Helena in the 19th cent. Fishing is the chief industry.


The island group was discovered by the Portuguese in 1506 and was visited by whalers, seal hunters, and explorers. In 1816 it was annexed by Great Britain, and in 1938 it became a dependency of the colony of St. Helena. An important meteorological and radio base was set up in 1942. The volcano, long dormant, erupted in 1961; the population was evacuated and transported to England. In 1962, however, the islanders decided to leave England and return to Tristan da Cunha, which they did the following year.


See A. Falk-Rønne, Back to Tristan (1967).

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TRISTAN DA CUNHA, short form Tristan. A British dependency in the South Atlantic. Language: English. The Portuguese discovered SAINT HELENA and the Tristan Archipelago in 1506 and the British occupied Tristan in 1816 during the exile of Napoleon at St Helena. In 1961, the islanders were evacuated after a volcanic eruption, but returned in 1963. The people, among whom there are only seven surnames, number some 350. Distinctive features include: (1) An intrusive initial /h/: ‘highland happle’ for island apple. (2) Such words as first, herb pronounced ‘farst’, ‘harb’. (3) Tense and possessive inflections often dropped and is often omitted. (4) Such usages as plant in (intransitive) to plant potatoes, the sea put up bubbles the sea grew (too) rough (for fishing), and eastings and westings, to indicate which way the island is circled. (5) The term gulch is common, as are such complex place-names as Down-where-minister-pick-up-his-things, Ridge-where-the-goat-jump-off, and Blackinthehole Hill.

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Tristan da Cunhabelladonna, Connor, donna, goner, gonna, honour (US honor), Maradona, Mashona, O'Connor, Shona, wanna •corner, fauna, forewarner, Lorna, Morna, mourner, sauna, scorner, suborner, warner •softener • Faulkner •downer, uptowner •sundowner •Arizona, Barcelona, boner, condoner, corona, Cremona, Desdemona, donor, Fiona, groaner, Iona, Jonah, kroner, Leona, loaner, loner, moaner, Mona, owner, Pamplona, persona, postponer, Ramona, stoner, toner, Valona, Verona, Winona •landowner • homeowner • shipowner •coiner, joiner, purloiner •crooner, harpooner, lacuna, lacunar, lampooner, Luna, lunar, mizuna, Oona, oppugner, Poona, pruner, puna, schooner, spooner, Tristan da Cunha, tuna, tuner, Una, vicuña, yokozuna •honeymooner • Sunna • Brookner •koruna

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Tristan da Cunha Group of four islands in the s Atlantic Ocean, located midway between s Africa and South America. The group was discovered (1506) by the Portuguese and annexed by Britain in 1816. In 1961, Tristan, the only inhabitable island, suffered a volcanic eruption that caused a temporary evacuation. A British overseas territory, it is administered from St Helena. Area of Tristan: 98sq km (38sq mi). Pop. (2000) 283, all of whom live in the settlement of Edinburgh.