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Juan de Nova Island
Île Juan de Nova
MottoLiberté, égalité, fraternité
AnthemLa Marseillaise
Location of the Scattered islands in the Indian Ocean:

• 1 : Bassas da India • 2 : Europa Island • 3 : Glorioso Islands • 4 : Juan de Nova Island • 5 : Tromelin Island

(KM : Comoros, MG : Madagascar, MU : Mauritius, MZ : Mozambique, RE : Réunion, YT : Mayotte)

Juan de Nova Island (also Saint-Christophe, French: locally Île Juan de Nova or officially Île Juan da Nova) is a 4.4 km² low, flat, tropical island in the narrowest part of the Mozambique Channel, about one-third of the way between Madagascar and Mozambique at 17°03′16″S 42°43′30″E / 17.05444°S 42.725°E / -17.05444; 42.725Coordinates: 17°03′16″S 42°43′30″E / 17.05444°S 42.725°E / -17.05444; 42.725. Anchorage is possible off the northeast of the island which also has a 1,300-metre-long airstrip.

Administratively, the island is one of the Scattered islands in the Indian Ocean, a district of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands.

Juan de Nova, about six kilometres long and 1.6 km at its widest, is a nature reserve surrounded by reefs which enclose an area (not a true lagoon like in an atoll) of roughly 40 km². Forests, mainly of Casuarinaceae, cover about half the island. Large numbers of terns (Sterna fuscata) breed there from November to March. Turtles nest in the beaches around the island.

The island is named after João da Nova, a Galician admiral in the service of Portugal who came across the island in 1501. It has been a French possession since 1897. Guano (phosphate) deposits were exploited from the start of the 20th century until 1970. The island was abandoned during World War II and was visited by German submariners. Installations, including a hangar, rail lines, houses and a jetty are in ruins.

Map; click for detail

Juan de Nova, with an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 61,050 km², is claimed by Madagascar. The island is garrisoned by French troops from Réunion and has a meteorological station (Saint-Christophe [1]).

Image of Juan de Nova Island taken from the International Space Station

Juan de Nova, in the sea route between South Africa and the northern tip of Madagascar, is affected by strong currents, and has become the site of numerous wrecks. Most visible are the remains of the SS Tottenham which ran onto the southern fringing reef in 1911.



Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Africa : East Africa : Juan de Nova Island
Quick Facts
Capital NA
Government possession of France; administered by a high commissioner of the Republic, resident in Reunion
Area 4.4 sq km
Population a small French military garrison along with a few meteorologists; occasionally visited by scientists
Language n/a
Religion n/a
Time Zone UTC +3

Juan de Nova Island is an island in the Indian Ocean off East Africa, about one-third of the way from Madagascar to Mozambique.

Named after a famous 15th century Spanish navigator and explorer, the island has been a French possession since 1897. It has been exploited for its guano and phosphate. Presently a small military garrison oversees a meteorological station.




Low and flat.

Get in

By plane

There is an unpaved airstrip.


There is no economic activity on Juan de Nova Island.


There are no public accommodations on Juan de Nova Island.

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