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Aldabra, Indian Ocean

March 19th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Aldabra is a raised coral atoll in the Indian Ocean, virtually untouched by humans, with distinctive island fauna, including the Aldabra Giant Tortoise. The atoll is home to the world's largest population of giant tortoises, numbering some 152,000 individuals. The islands are designated a World Heritage Site. They are also known for their green turtles, hawksbill turtles, and birds, including the white-throated rail. Politically, Aldabra is part of the Seychelles.

The atoll is located at 9°24′S 46°22′E and belongs to the Aldabra Group, one of the island groups of the Outer Islands of the Seychelles. The atoll is 265 miles northwest of the northern point of Madagascar and 1150 km southwest of Mahé, the principal island of the Seychelles archipelago. The Comoro Islands lie 220 miles southwest of Aldabra. The Aldabra Atoll, along with Des Roches and Farquhar, was part of the British Indian Ocean Territory from 1965 until Seychelles independence in 1976.

The atoll is the second largest in the world after Kiritimati. It is 34 km long, 14.5 km wide, up to 8 meters above sea level, and has a land area of 155.4 km². The lagoon measures 224 km² in area, of which roughly two thirds full dry during low tide.

The atoll consists of a ring of four larger islands (counterclockwise):

* South Island (Grand Terre, 116.1 km²)

* Malabar or Middle Island (26.8 km²)

* Polymnieli or Polymnie (4.75 km²)

* Picard or West Island (9.4 km²)

Additionally, there are some forty smaller islands and rocks, mostly inside the lagoon: Île aux Cendres, Île Michel, Île Esprit, Île Moustiques, Îlot Parc, Îlot Emile, Îlot Yangue, Îlot Dubois, Îlot Magnan, Île Lanier, Champignon des Os, Euphrate, Grand Mentor, Grand ÎIot, Gros ÎIot Gionnet, Gros ÎIot Sésame, Heron Rock, Hide Island, Île aux Aigrettes, Île aux Cèdres, Îles Chalands, Île Fangame, Île Héron, Île Michel, Île Suacco, Île Sylvestre, Île Verte, Îlot Déder, Îlot du Sud, Îlot du Milieu, Îlot du Nord, Îlot Macoa, Îlot Marquoix, Îlots Niçois, Îlot Salade, Middle Row Island, Nobby Rock, North Row Island, Petit Mentor, Petit Mentor Endans, Petits ÎIots, Pink Rock, Table Ronde.

Aldabra was visited by Portuguese navigators in 1511. The islands were already known to the Arabs, from whom they get their name. In the middle of the 18th century, they became dependencies of the French colony of Réunion, from where expeditions were made for the capture of the giant tortoises. In 1810 with Mauritius, Réunion, the Seychelles and other islands, Aldabra passed into the possession of Great Britain. Réunion was returned to France, and Mauritius gained possession of Aldabra as well as the rest of the Seychelles. The previous inhabitants were emigrants from the Seychelles.

The abandoned settlement Picard on the southwestern tip of West Island is now home to the wildlife warden and his staff. There is no other permanent population. The islands are managed by the Seychelles Island Foundation.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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