Life on the most remote inhabited island in the world

Answering a few questions

I have had a couple of friends who have asked a number of questions about Tristan, and thought it might be useful to post the answers to their questions on the blog, as I have a feeling some of these questions are of universal interest.  Coming from a background where electricity featured fairly prominently in my working life, electricity provision has been a regular question from a lot of my clients and colleagues.  Hope you find these useful. 


1) I now read that you have got one vehicle, a Landy, are there any other vehicles on Tristan? I will not ask if you have traffic jams or rush hour.

We have about 60 cars on the island I believe – but will have to check this with the police and confirm. We, ironically enough, don’t have a car anymore as ours was pretty knackered and we sold it. We have about 3.5kms of concrete road, and can drive a maximum of 6kms east to west before falling into the sea.

2) I’ve gathered and see some electric lines in the back ground of some photos, please tell me a bit more. How is it generated? How is it distributed? Who has electricity? ETC.

All the houses on the island have 24 hour electricity, and we have a number of generators which are housed just at the end of our garden. Ovenstone Agencies is in charge of keeping the generators going and there are 5 gensets on the island which are used for generating power for the island. There are both overline and underground transmission/distribution cables. There is a monthly meter read done to determine bills.

3) The same goes for telephone?

We have satellite transmission and the calls are charged at pretty reasonable rates. Until August last year, we didn’t have any phones other than SAT phones which were unbelievably expensive and most people hardly ever made calls as £1.80 a minute was a little steep. This new system has brought a total change to the island as we now all have phones in our homes and it’s now not necessary to walk to someone’s home to deliver a message, as you can just pick up the phone (of course, my laziness level has risen along with the distribution of the phones in the village).

4) How is internet connection on Tristan?

Internet access is actually quite good and operates pretty quickly. We have an internet cafe which is open from about 8 until 3pm every day.

5) What currency do you trade in?

We use British pounds here on Tristan.


Comments on: "Answering a few questions" (1)

  1. A couple of years ago the question arose on the Tristan List of alternative energy — hydro or wind power. We learned that part of the deal with Ovenstone was that they were providing everyone with free electricity, so there was no incentive, at least for the islanders, to conserve diesel, or whatever the gensets use.

    Now you speak of reading meters, which seems at variance with free electricity. Where have I gone astray?

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