St. Helena, United Kingdom
Nearest populated region: Angola, 1,850 kilometers (1,150 miles) away.
If getting away from the world is your thing, you will find it in Saint Helena, a volcanic island over 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles) from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and 1,850 kilometers (1,150 miles) from the African coast.
When it was discovered in 1502 by the Spanish it had no inhabitants. Today, it is administered by Britain along with the islands Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.
For hundreds of years, the island has been an important port of call for ships sailing between Europe and Asia.
The island is probably most famous for being the location of Napoleon’s imprisonment when he was exiled to St. Helena in 1815. He lived in Longwood for six years before dying of stomach cancer in 1821 at the age of 51.
Napoleon wasn’t the only person sent packing to St. Helena to serve time as a captive, since from the time of its discovery its remote location made it an ideal destination to send exiles and prisoners.
It may have held 6,000 prisoners from the Boer War in the early 1900s, but today St. Helena can boast that it is home to 400 different invertebrates that exist nowhere else on Earth.
Ball’s Pyramid, Lord Howe Island
Population: Rotating teams of scientists of biologists
Nearest populated region: 643 kilometers (400 miles) from Australia.
Part of Australia’s Lord Howe Marine Park, Ball’s Pyramid is 562 meters (1,844 feet) worth of volcanic stack — the tallest volcanic stack on the planet.
Reaching skyward from the depths of the Tasman Sea, this now seven-million-year-old, brutally rocky and steep-sided ‘pyramid’ is famous for its housing of the rather intimidating looking Lord Howe stick bug.
Because of that insect, sometimes called a tree lobster and thought for decades to be extinct, Ball’s Pyramid has seen its share of scientists setting up camp on its harsh terrain.
More recently, it has become a destination spot for those looking for some middle-of-nowhere adventure by climbing the pyramid’s peak and exploring its caves.
Amsterdam Island, France
Population: Technically none, but usually 30 researchers can be found here.
Nearest populated region: Australia, 3,370 kilometers (2,094 miles) away.
The closest landmass to Amsterdam Island, a volcanic island with year-round temperatures averaging 13 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit) and high winds, is Perth, Australia.
Amsterdam Island is an inactive volcano that last erupted in 1792. Discovered by Sebastian del Cano in 1522 (while del Cano was part of explorer Ferdinand Magellan’s fleet), it took until 1871 before an attempt was made to settle the island by an individual referenced only as Heurtin in the history books.
A small group of settlers tried for seven months to grow crops and raise cattle before abandoning the idea and leaving their livestock behind.
Claimed by France in 1843, its only human population comes from researchers visiting the island and its original meteorological station that was set up in 1949. By 1998 the population of Amsterdam Island cattle had grown to over 2,000 from the original five animals.
The cattle seriously damaged the ecosystem, and after a series of different strategies (including fencing them in on the northern side of the island) operations began in 2008 to kill off the animals.