Glorioso Islands

Glorioso Islands

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The Glorieuses or Glorioso Islands ( or officially also Archipel des Glorieuses) are a group of French
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 islands and rocks totalling 5 square kilometres (1,235.5 acre), at 11°33′S 47°20′E, in the northern Mozambique channel, about 160 kilometres (99.4 mi) northwest of Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

. The Glorieuses have an Exclusive Economic Zone
Exclusive Economic Zone
Under the law of the sea, an exclusive economic zone is a seazone over which a state has special rights over the exploration and use of marine resources, including production of energy from water and wind. It stretches from the seaward edge of the state's territorial sea out to 200 nautical...

 (EEZ) of 48350 square kilometres (18,668 sq mi). There are anchorages offshore, and Grande Glorieuse has a 1300 metres (4,265.1 ft) long airstrip.

The archipelago
An archipelago , sometimes called an island group, is a chain or cluster of islands. The word archipelago is derived from the Greek ἄρχι- – arkhi- and πέλαγος – pélagos through the Italian arcipelago...

 consists of two islands, Grande Glorieuse (11°34′46.549"S 47°17′54.146"E) and Île du Lys, as well as eight rock islets (Roches Vertes): Wreck Rock (11°30′45.194"S 47°22′54.178"E), South Rock (11°35′43.760"S 47°18′6.6600"E) and Verte Rocks (11°34′15.636"S 47°19′54.188"E) and three others that are unnamed. They form part of a coral reef
Coral reef
Coral reefs are underwater structures made from calcium carbonate secreted by corals. Coral reefs are colonies of tiny living animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, which in turn consist of polyps that cluster in groups. The polyps...

 and lagoon
A lagoon is a body of shallow sea water or brackish water separated from the sea by some form of barrier. The EU's habitat directive defines lagoons as "expanses of shallow coastal salt water, of varying salinity or water volume, wholly or partially separated from the sea by sand banks or shingle,...

. Grande Glorieuses is roughly circular and measures about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) across. It is thickly vegetated, mainly by the remains of a coconut plantation and casuarina
Casuarina is a genus of 17 species in the family Casuarinaceae, native to Australasia, southeast Asia, and islands of the western Pacific Ocean. It was once treated as the sole genus in the family, but has been split into three genera .They are evergreen shrubs and trees growing to 35 m tall...


Île du Lys, located at 11°30′59.350"S 47°22′36.023"E about five miles (about 8 km) northeast of Grande Glorieuses, is about 600 metres (1,968.5 ft) long and consists of sand dunes and scrub with some mangroves. It was formerly quarried for phosphate
A phosphate, an inorganic chemical, is a salt of phosphoric acid. In organic chemistry, a phosphate, or organophosphate, is an ester of phosphoric acid. Organic phosphates are important in biochemistry and biogeochemistry or ecology. Inorganic phosphates are mined to obtain phosphorus for use in...

Guano is the excrement of seabirds, cave dwelling bats, and seals. Guano manure is an effective fertilizer due to its high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen and also its lack of odor. It was an important source of nitrates for gunpowder...


The Glorieuses were named and settled in 1880 by a Frenchman, Hippolyte Caltaux, who established a coconut
The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera, is a member of the family Arecaceae . It is the only accepted species in the genus Cocos. The term coconut can refer to the entire coconut palm, the seed, or the fruit, which is not a botanical nut. The spelling cocoanut is an old-fashioned form of the word...

 and maize
Maize known in many English-speaking countries as corn or mielie/mealie, is a grain domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. The leafy stalk produces ears which contain seeds called kernels. Though technically a grain, maize kernels are used in cooking as a vegetable...

 plantation on Grande Glorieuse. The archipelago became a French possession in 1892. From 1914 to 1958 concessions to exploit the islands were given to Seychelles
Seychelles , officially the Republic of Seychelles , is an island country spanning an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, some east of mainland Africa, northeast of the island of Madagascar....

 companies. The islands are today nature reserves with a meteorological station garrisoned by French troops (The French Foreign Legion
French Foreign Legion
The French Foreign Legion is a unique military service wing of the French Army established in 1831. The foreign legion was exclusively created for foreign nationals willing to serve in the French Armed Forces...

). Madagascar
The Republic of Madagascar is an island country located in the Indian Ocean off the southeastern coast of Africa...

 continues to claim sovereignty over the islands.

The climate is tropical and the terrain is low and flat, varying from sea level to 12 metres (39.4 ft). Île de Lys in particular is a nesting ground for migratory
Bird migration
Bird migration is the regular seasonal journey undertaken by many species of birds. Bird movements include those made in response to changes in food availability, habitat or weather. Sometimes, journeys are not termed "true migration" because they are irregular or in only one direction...

 seabirds, and turtles lay eggs on the beaches.

See also

  • France–Seychelles Maritime Boundary Agreement
    France–Seychelles Maritime Boundary Agreement
    The France–Seychelles Maritime Boundary Agreement is a 2001 treaty between France and Seychelles which delimits the maritime boundary between Seychelles and the uninhabited Glorioso Islands which are claimed by France....