The French Southern and Antarctic Lands, sometimes called the French Southern Territories (in which case it excludes Adelie Land, the Antarctic part), consists of several islands and pieces of Antarctica in the southern Indian Ocean.
In French, this piece of the world is called Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises, abbreviated TAAF. The official TAAF website has much information about these islands and territories. The TAAF is based on the islans of Reunion.
Bassas da India and Europa Island are located on the southwest side of the Madagascar channel between Madagascar and mainland Africa. Juan de Nova is on the central west side and the Glorioso Islands are northwest of Madagascar. Tromelin is northeast of Madagscar and about halfway to Mauritius.
The islands of Kerguelen, Crozet, Saint Paul and Amsterdam are on average about 3,500 kilometres south-southeast of Madagascar and Reunion.
Adelie Land is like a piece of pie which narrows towards the geographical southpole and is located directly south of Australia.
TAAF consists of three separate areas:
Although it's more like a small settlement, Port-aux-Francais officially is the capital. The settlement is located on Kerguelen, and has about 60-120 inhabitants, depending on the season.
As the islands and territories are located in different parts, the climate is as diverse as you could wish. The scattered islands near Madagascar and Mauritius have a tropical climate with generally hot and humid weather and a specific wet season. For more information, see the weather under Mauritius, Madagascar or Comoros.
The southern Indian Ocean Islands are much much colder with generally cold, windy and humid conditions. Temperatures rarely reach 18 °C, the islands of Saint Paul and Amsterdam being the warmest. That said, temperatures, although dropping below zero in winter, are not that low either. The warmer season is from November to March, while June to September is wintertime. This applies to Adelie Land on Antarctica as well, but in a much more hostile climate, with temperatures below -40 °C or more and sometimes very windy conditions. In summer temperatures can hit 10 °C above zero though, but only near the coastal areas.
The only way of getting to the southern Indian Ocean islands and antarctic territory is by boat.
The Marion Dufresne travels to the islands of Kerguelen, Crozet, Saint Paul and Amsterdam 4 times a year from Reunion. A limited amount of travellers is able to go on this trip which lasts about a month. Adelie Land is supplied by the "Astrolabe" which sails from Hobart in Tasmania.
Several organisations specialize in Antarctic trips as well. The other islands are more difficult to reach, although they do have airstrips.
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