5 Most Unique and Unusual Islands - #3 Is it Cute or Creepy?

  • June 02, 2015
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Fort Boyard

A man-made island of a different sort, Fort Boyard is a fortification built off the west coast of France. Its story is a bit of a funny one. In 1661 Louis XIV wanted to build the fort to compliment two others; by building Fort Boyard roughly halfway between the other two, all three forts could better serve as defensive outposts by increasing artillery range. The plan was put into motion but abandoned in 1667 due to massive cost and logistics. One of Louis XIV's engineers described the project like this: “It would be easier to seize the moon with your teeth than to attempt such an undertaking in such a place.” The plan was resumed in 1757 but faced similar difficulties and was dropped once again. Napoleon Bonaparte put major efforts into completing construction in 1800. By the time the plan was abandoned again in 1809 a plateau and foundation had been created. The project was resumed for a final time in 1837 by Louis-Philippe and finished in 1857. But by this time Fort Boyard was obsolete as the range of artillery weapons had greatly increased. Originally built to service a garrison of 250 soldiers, Fort Boyard was briefly used as a military prison. It was later used as a filming location for the 1967 film The Last Adventure. More recently it's been the filming location for the game show Fort Boyard.


North Sentinel Island

One of the Andaman Islands in India's Bay of Bengal, North Sentinel Island is home to the Sentinelese, a group of people living in voluntary isolation, repelling and occasionally killing outsiders who come to the island. Records of the island and its people date back to 1771. Prior to that some explorers claimed that the Andaman Islands were home to cannibal tribes, thus sailors did their best to avoid them. Because of this we don't have much of a history of the island itself or the Sentinelese. Those who attempt contact with the tribe (or have the misfortune of getting their ship wrecked on the island's surrounding reefs) are usually attacked if discovered. Though many attempts have been made by different groups to establish a relationship and study the Sentinelese, none have succeeded and we know next to nothing about the culture. We do know that they are a hunter-gatherer society, they use limited metalworking, and they build small canoes for fishing but not general seafaring. For a period of time between the 60s and 90s the Indian government made regular trips to the island in order to leave gifts on the shore (such as food not found on the island, like coconuts, or simple tools) in the hopes of getting the Sentineles to become less hostile. By the time the program was canceled little headway was made. Attempts to survey the island and the Sentinelese are thwarted by the island's geography. A dense jungle canopy covers nearly all of North Sentinel Island. Aerial views and even satellite imaging reveal very little. The population is estimated to be less than four-hundred people.