French Southern and Antarctic Lands

Other destinations > Islands > French Southern and Antarctic Lands

Capital Port-aux-Français
Currency Euro (EUR)
Population 196 (2012)
Time zone UTC+04:00, UTC+05:00, UTC+10:00
Driving side right

French Southern and Antarctic Lands (French: Terres australes et antarctiques françaises, or TAAF;) are a group of islands of the Indian Ocean, about equidistant between Africa, Antarctica, and mainland Australia along with a narrow strip of Antarctica, known as Adélie Land.


  • Kerguelen (Archipel des Kerguelen), a group of volcanic islands in the southern Indian Ocean, southeast of Africa, approximately equidistant between Africa, Antarctica and mainland Australia;
  • Saint-Paul and Amsterdam islands (Îles Saint Paul et Amsterdam), a group to the north of Kerguelen;
  • Crozet Islands (Îles Crozet), a group in the southern Indian Ocean, south of Madagascar;
  • Adélie Land (Terre Adélie), the French claim on Antarctica;
  • the Scattered Islands of the Indian Ocean (Îles Éparses), a dispersed group of islands around the coast of Madagascar.


The Southern Lands consist of two near-polar archipelagos, Iles Crozet and Iles Kerguelen, and two volcanic islands, Ile Amsterdam and Ile Saint-Paul. They have no permanent inhabitants and are visited only by researchers studying the native fauna. The "Antarctic Lands" portion consists of Adélie Land, a thin slice of the Antarctic continent discovered and claimed by the French in 1840, and set aside by the Antarctic Treaty.

In 2019, the archipelagoes of Crozet, Kerguelen, St. Paul and Amsterdam islands, were collectively listed as a natural UNESCO World Heritage site.

The French Southern and Antarctic Lands consist of a few islands in the Indian Ocean that were separated from what was then the colony of Madagascar in the 1950s.

This overseas territory includes Kerguelen with the largest "city", Port-aux-Français, the islands of Saint Paul and Amsterdam to the east and the Crozet Islands to the west (different time zone). Apart from the scientists and a modest military presence, all these islands are uninhabited and have a harsh and inhospitable climate.

Officially, Adélie also belongs to this overseas territory as a French territorial claim over Antarctica, but due to the Antarctic Treaty, all those territorial claims are frozen. Since 2007, the Îles Éparses, some islands scattered throughout the Indian Ocean, have been incorporated into the French Southern and Antarctic Territories.

Get in[edit]

Port-aux-Français, Kerguelen

The only airport in these islands is Tromelin in the Îles Éparses, which has a 1200 m airstrip.

There are no harbours here, and cruise ships almost never visit. Staff come and go on Marion Dufresne, an oceanographic and supply ship, which makes a circuit four times a year from Reunion. Until 2019 you could book a berth as a tourist, but this is no longer possible.


Economic activity is limited to servicing meteorological and geophysical research stations and French and other fishing fleets. The fish catches landed on Iles Kerguelen by foreign ships are exported to France and Réunion.


There is no public accommodation in these islands.

Stay safe[edit]

All of these islands have harsh environments, especially in the austral winter.

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