The Kerguelen Islands, also called the Desolation Islands, are located in the southern Indian Ocean and are part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands (TAAF). They are among the most isolated places on Earth, more than 3,300 kilometres away from the nearest populated location. The islands, along with Adélie Land, the Crozet Islands and the Amsterdam and Saint Paul Islands are part of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands and are administered as a separate district. There are no indigenous inhabitants, but France maintains a permanent presence of 45 to 100 scientists, engineers and researchers.
The main island, Grande Terre, is 6,675 km2 in area and is surrounded by a further 300 smaller islands and islets, forming an archipelago of 7,215 km2. While the surrounding seas are generally rough, they remain ice-free year-round. There is no airport on the islands, so all travel and transport from the outside world is conducted by ship. They are 450 kilometres northwest of the uninhabited Heard Island and McDonald Islands.
There are a number of historic sights, all on Grande Terre, including old research stations and a whale station.
The Kerguelen Islands have a cold maritime climate with subpolar conditions though it rarely gets really cold here. Temperatures range from around 5 °C in July and August to around 10-12 °C from December to March. Nights are between zero and 5 °C respectively. The absolute records range from 23 °C to -8º, though it can get colder at higher elevations. Also, the constant winds make it feel much colder. Precipitation is in the 50-70 mm range a month and fairly consistent throughout the year.
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