|Geographical location||7 ° 56 ′ S , 14 ° 22 ′ W|
|Residents||806 (March 2016)
9.2 inhabitants / km²
Ascension (officially English Ascension Island ) is a 88 km² tropical island in the South Atlantic between Africa and South America , which belongs to the British overseas territory of St. Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha . Their capital is Georgetown .
Geography and geology
The island is of volcanic origin and is 80 kilometers west of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge . The largest extension of the island is about twelve kilometers in north-south direction and about 14 kilometers in east-west direction. The area is about 88 km² and the highest point ("The Peak", Green Mountain ) is 859 meters above sea level. Large parts of the island are wasteland made of cooled lava ; there are a total of 44 volcanic craters . Originally the island was only thinly overgrown, but today there are forests. In particular, introduced plants such as Prosopis juliflora, a species of mesquite , have spread widely on the island. Ascension has a subtropical climate with average temperatures between 20 ° C and 31 ° C. There is little rain all year round; only between February and April does the rainfall increase. To the east of the island is the small and uninhabited Boatswain Bird Island (nature reserve). Ascension is an important mating and egg-laying site for green turtles ( Chelonia mydas ), which during the rest of the year predominantly graze in seagrass meadows off the Brazilian coast.
Average monthly temperatures and rainfall for Ascension
The originally uninhabited island was discovered for the first time in May 1501 by João da Nova and named Ilha de Nossa Senhora da Conceição , but was quickly forgotten again. Two years later the island was "discovered" a second time by Afonso de Albuquerque on May 20, 1503. According to tradition, he gave her the name Ascensão because he is said to have seen her on Ascension Day (Portuguese: Ascensão de Jesus ). This usual representation of the history of the discovery and naming is now doubted, since the island already appears on the Cantino world map drawn up in 1502 as ilha ... ascenssani in the right place.
In 1701, the explorer William Dampier drove his ship Roebuck aground off the island and waited with his crew for six weeks before an East India sailor picked up the castaways. This means that the privateer and his crew are the first (involuntary) settlers on the island.
On May 5, 1725, the Dutch seafarer Leendert Hasenbosch, convicted of “ sodomy ”, was abandoned on the island. Based on a diary found later on the island, he probably died after about six months due to a lack of food.
When Napoleon Bonaparte was banished to the island of St. Helena , about 700 nautical miles to the southeast, in 1815 , the Royal Navy occupied Ascension in order to make possible attempts at liberation by the French more difficult. The island was turned into a fortress . In order for Ascension to be under the command of the Navy and not a colony administration, a "trick" was used. The island was declared a "stone frigate" ( "stone sloop of war of the smaller classes" ) and received as HMS Ascension 65 soldiers "crew". After Napoleon died, it served as a base for the West Africa squadron, which was supposed to fight pirates and the slave trade . In reality, the island was used more as a hospital as many epidemics were rampant in Africa during those years.
In November 1816 Christian Ignatius Latrobe, an inspector of the Moravian Brethren , visited the islands of St. Helena and Ascension on his return trip from the South African Moravian colony of Gnadenthal . Latrobe was looking for more settlement sites for the Moravian Mission and was initially impressed by the beauty of the island of Ascension. On the occasion of his visit, however, he had to take note that the small herd of goats at the British military base and countless rats had devoured the island's vegetation after just a few years and that the few residents could no longer be self-sufficient. He also reported that the fruits growing on the island are mostly inedible or poisonous and that the two freshwater springs are located in a part of the island that is difficult to reach. The island is also surrounded by countless cliffs, so that the landing of travelers, cargo and provisions is very dangerous.
In 1836 Charles Darwin landed on Ascension aboard the HMS Beagle , coming from St. Helena . He was so enthusiastic about the island and its appearance that he, together with the British biologist and botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker , began to develop a plan to revitalize this barren island. A kind of Garden of Eden, or rather the “Island of Eden”, was to emerge.
In 1854 Hooker submitted a plan to plant the island. In the following years, the Royal Navy began to ship plants and trees from England ( Kew Gardens ) and plant them on the island. By the end of 1870, a rich flora of eucalyptus , pine , bamboo and banana trees had developed on the island's highest peak ( Green Mountain ) . A fully functioning ecosystem was created within a very short time . Today researchers refer to this experiment by Darwin and Hooker as the first and successful terraforming experiment; a self-sustaining and self-reproducing ecosystem has been created.
On December 15, 1899, the Eastern Telegraph Company and other companies laid the first submarine cables to the island to connect London and Cape Town, which was then British . Over time, more cables were laid to Sierra Leone , Cape Verde , Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro . This marks the beginning of the island as a communication hub for the southern Atlantic .
The island's military importance grew. The first large radio systems were built during the First World War . During the Second World War , the island was used to monitor trade routes in the South Atlantic ( anti -submarine defense) and as a listening post for the Allies who could intercept and decipher radio messages . Also were Kreuzpeilungen made to determine the position of ships in the ocean. In September 1941 the United States Army Air Forces put the South Atlantic Airlift into operation, which was of great importance for the European and North African theater of war. Starting from Florida , the airlift ran over military airfields in
- Puerto Rico ( Borinquen Army Air Field )
- Trinidad (Waller Air Force Base)
- British Guiana ( Atkinson Field , now Cheddi Jagan International Airport )
- Brazil ( Belém , now Belém-Val de Cães Airport; Natal , now Augusto Severo International Airport and Recife , now Guararapes International Airport )
- Liberia (Roberts Field, now Roberts International Airport ) or Sierra Leone ( Hastings Airfield )
- French West Africa , Morocco and Algeria
The distance of the Atlantic crossing from Brazil to West Africa (Liberia or Sierra Leone) was critical, it is about 3000 kilometers. Aircraft with a shorter range (but at least 2000 kilometers) only had the option of using the Wideawake Field airfield, which was built on Ascension in the summer of 1942, for refueling. In the course of the war, more than 25,000 bombers reached North Africa and Europe. The American President Franklin D. Roosevelt also used the South Atlantic Airlift to visit the Conferences in Casablanca (January 1943) and Tehran (November / December 1943).
During the Cold War , the island was used as a testing ground for ICBMs . The missiles launched in Florida and targeted Ascension. Shortly before the impact, they were diverted into the sea by the local ground station. Among other things, ESA and NASA therefore built ground stations there. A station was also built for the GPS satellite navigation system. Since 1963, were obtained from Ascension sounding rockets (mainly of type Arcas ) at 7 ° 58 '29.3 " S , 14 ° 24' 52.9" W started.
Ascension Iceland is home to a shortwave - transmitter of the BBC World Service at 7 ° 54 '35.6 " S , 14 ° 22' 50.3" W .
In 1982 the island served the British as a base for their recapture of the Falkland Islands in the Falklands War . The Victor tankers and Avro Vulcan bombers took off for the " Black Buck " air operations from Wideawake airfield .
In 2016, 806 people lived on the island, mainly employees of the organizations that operate on the island and their relatives. 556 are from St. Helena , 250 are foreigners. An indigenous population never lived on Ascension . The main town of the island is Georgetown with 560 inhabitants. Two Boats Village in the eastern interior of the island has 120 inhabitants. The number of military personnel at Cat Hill , the US base, and Traveller's Hill , which is part of the Royal Air Force base Wideawake , varies and is usually not published.
The governor of St. Helena is also the governor of Ascension. The government of Ascension is (English by an administrator administrator ) led who is dispatched directly from the mother country and appointed by the Governor. This is the advice of the island ( Iceland Council ) before and has the highest office on Ascension held. Administrator Justine Allan , the first woman in this role, was sworn in on March 26, 2018. She is the 22nd person who has been entrusted with this office.
The Island Council (Inselrat) has been elected every three years by the electorate of the island since 2002 and has seven members. In addition, there are three ex-officio members without voting rights: the Administrator, the Attorney General and the Director of Resources (roughly equivalent to a Minister of Finance) . The governor presides over the island council. If there are fewer than eight candidates, only five council members will be elected; should fewer than six be elected, the provisions of the regulation governing the function of the Island Council will be suspended and the governor must call new elections within six months.
There are no political parties or constituencies . The last election took place on September 1, 2016.
Ascension has an airport at Wideawake Airfield . In April 2017, the need for repairs on the runway was determined and flight operations for larger machines were suspended until the repair work was completed. In the meantime, the island is mainly served by a few cruise and mail ships. A monthly flight connection to St. Helena has been offered by the airline Airlink since the end of 2017. This will be the main connection between Ascension and the outside world with the suspension of the mail ship connection planned for the beginning of 2018 in the course of the opening of the airport on St. Helena until the resumption of direct flights to Great Britain.
Electricity is mainly generated by diesel generators, but since 2010 also partly with wind energy . The latter is mainly used for the BBC's shortwave stations .
US military base
The United States maintains a military base on Ascension, part of the National Security Agency (NSA) spy system called Echelon . During the surveillance and espionage affair in 2013 , it became known that telecommunications in Brazil , Argentina , Uruguay , Colombia and Venezuela are monitored from here . The data collected in Ascension will be analyzed at the Secret Service Center in Fort Meade in Maryland , USA.
- Reginald Aldworth Daly : The Geology of Ascension Island. In: Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences , 1925 (60), pp. 3-80.
- Philip Ashmole , Myrtle J. Ashmole: St Helena and Ascension Island. A natural history. Nelson, Oswestry 2000, ISBN 978-0-904614-61-9 .
- Sergio Ghione: The island of the turtles. An unsolved mystery in the Atlantic. Translated from the Italian by Andreas Simon. Campus, Frankfurt / New York 2002, ISBN 3-593-36798-X .
- Official website (English)
- Ascension Iceland Heritage Society website (English)
- Ascension in the Global Volcanism Program of the Smithsonian Institution (English)
- ↑ St Helena in Figures. (PDF; 371 kB) St Helena Government, February 2014, accessed on April 20, 2017 (English, data partially inverted).
- ^ Island in the southern Atlantic Ocean, about half way between South America and Africa. WWF. Retrieved August 16, 2018.
- ↑ Harold Livermore : Santa Helena, A Forgotten Portuguese Discovery . In: Estudos em Homenagem a Luís António de Oliveira Ramos . tape 2 . Faculdade de Letras da Universidade do Porto, Porto 2004, ISBN 972-9350-74-4 , pp. 623–631 (English, online [PDF; 59 kB ]).
- ↑ a b David Ludwig: Ascension: The experiment at the end of the world. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung . March 27, 2011, accessed April 20, 2017.
- ^ Christian Ignatius Latrobe: Journal of a visit to South Africa, in 1815, and 1816. With some account of the missionary settlements of the United Brethren, near the Cape of Good Hope . LB Seeley, London 1818, p. 384–387 (English, digitized in the Internet Archive ).
- ^ Howard Falcon-Lang: Charles Darwin's ecological experiment on Ascension isle. In: BBC News . September 1, 2010, accessed April 20, 2017.
- ^ Charles Hendricks: Building the Atlantic Bases ( memento July 24, 2009 in the Internet Archive ). Accessed on May 20, 2017 (PDF; 1.78 MB, English).
- ↑ Population Count. (PDF; 1.18 MB) In: St Helena 2016 Population & Housing Census - Summary Report. St Helena Statistics Office, June 6, 2016, p. 9 , accessed May 20, 2017 .
- ^ Island Government (Ascension) Ordinance, 2008. (PDF; 283 kB) Part II - The Island Council. Ascension Island Government, September 12, 2008, accessed May 20, 2017 .
- ^ Ascension Island General Election 2016. St Helena Government, September 2, 2016, accessed April 20, 2017 .
- ^ Matthew Teller: Ascension: the loneliest island. In: ft.com . August 18, 2017, accessed on January 16, 2019 (English, registration required).
- ↑ Airlink. Ascension Island Government, accessed January 14, 2018 .
- ↑ Mace: BBC Wind Farm Ascension Island ( memento from January 24, 2016 in the web archive archive.today ).
- ^ Claudio Dantas Sequeira, Josie Jeronimo: Como eles espionam . In: Istoé . No. 2286 . Editora Três, September 11, 2013, ISSN 0104-3943 (Portuguese, istoe.com.br [accessed August 28, 2019]).