Redonda

Redonda

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Redonda is a very small, uninhabited Caribbean
Caribbean
The Caribbean is a crescent-shaped group of islands more than 2,000 miles long separating the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, to the west and south, from the Atlantic Ocean, to the east and north...

 island
Island
An island or isle is any piece of sub-continental land that is surrounded by water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atolls can be called islets, cays or keys. An island in a river or lake may be called an eyot , or holm...

 which is part of Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is a twin-island nation lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of two major inhabited islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and a number of smaller islands...

, in the Leeward Islands
Leeward Islands
The Leeward Islands are a group of islands in the West Indies. They are the northern islands of the Lesser Antilles chain. As a group they start east of Puerto Rico and reach southward to Dominica. They are situated where the northeastern Caribbean Sea meets the western Atlantic Ocean...

, West Indies.

This small island lies 56.2 kilometres (34.9 mi) southwest of Antigua
Antigua
Antigua , also known as Waladli, is an island in the West Indies, in the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean region, the main island of the country of Antigua and Barbuda. Antigua means "ancient" in Spanish and was named by Christopher Columbus after an icon in Seville Cathedral, Santa Maria de la...

, in the waters between the islands of Nevis
Nevis
Nevis is an island in the Caribbean Sea, located near the northern end of the Lesser Antilles archipelago, about 350 km east-southeast of Puerto Rico and 80 km west of Antigua. The 93 km² island is part of the inner arc of the Leeward Islands chain of the West Indies...

 and Montserrat
Montserrat
Montserrat is a British overseas territory located in the Leeward Islands, part of the chain of islands called the Lesser Antilles in the West Indies. This island measures approximately long and wide, giving of coastline...

. Redonda is closer to Montserrat than to any other island; it is located at 22.5 kilometres (14 mi) northwest of Montserrat, and 32 kilometres (19.9 mi) southeast of Nevis.

Redonda seems like one very large rock. It is the remnant of an ancient volcanic core, and the land rises extremely steeply from sea level, mostly as sheer cliffs, especially on the leeward side of the island. At the top of the island there is an area of grassland that slopes fairly steeply to the east. There is no source of freshwater other than rain. Judging by the name he gave the island, to Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 the island appeared to be rounded, at least in profile. In reality the island is long and narrow. The actual land area of the island is hard to estimate because of the extreme steepness of the slopes, but it is calculated as somewhere between 1.6 square kilometres (395.4 acre) and 2.6 square kilometres (642.5 acre). The highest point is 296 metres (971.1 ft). Redonda is uninhabited, except by seabirds and a herd of feral goats that manage to survive on the poor grazing on top of the island. The lack of any fresh water source save rainfall makes the island uninhabitable by any human population.

History



Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus
Christopher Columbus was an explorer, colonizer, and navigator, born in the Republic of Genoa, in northwestern Italy. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean that led to general European awareness of the American continents in the...

 discovered Redonda in 1493 on his second journey. He claimed it for the Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 crown, but did not land there. He named the island Santa María la Redonda, meaning Saint Mary the Round, reflecting the island's apparent profile when viewed from the side. In the 1860s, the island became a British
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 possession.

During the decades after the 1860s, the rich guano
Guano
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...

 (phosphine oxide
Phosphine oxide
Phosphine oxides are either inorganic phosphorus compounds such as phosphoryl trichloride or organophosphorus compounds with the formula OPR3, where R = alkyl or aryl...

) deposits of Redonda were mined
Mining
Mining is the extraction of valuable minerals or other geological materials from the earth, from an ore body, vein or seam. The term also includes the removal of soil. Materials recovered by mining include base metals, precious metals, iron, uranium, coal, diamonds, limestone, oil shale, rock...

 for fertiliser, with an annual yield of up to 7,000 ton
Ton
The ton is a unit of measure. It has a long history and has acquired a number of meanings and uses over the years. It is used principally as a unit of weight, and as a unit of volume. It can also be used as a measure of energy, for truck classification, or as a colloquial term.It is derived from...

s. Only during this time was the island inhabited, by workers. The population was 120 in 1901. During the First World War, the mining operations ceased, and the workers left the island, which has remained uninhabited since then. Two stone huts still stand from the time when the island was occupied. Although the closest island to Redonda is Montserrat
Montserrat
Montserrat is a British overseas territory located in the Leeward Islands, part of the chain of islands called the Lesser Antilles in the West Indies. This island measures approximately long and wide, giving of coastline...

, and the second closest is Nevis
Nevis
Nevis is an island in the Caribbean Sea, located near the northern end of the Lesser Antilles archipelago, about 350 km east-southeast of Puerto Rico and 80 km west of Antigua. The 93 km² island is part of the inner arc of the Leeward Islands chain of the West Indies...

, Redonda became a dependency of somewhat further away Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is a twin-island nation lying between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of two major inhabited islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and a number of smaller islands...

 in 1967.

Scientists from the Montserrat Volcano Observatory visit the island in a helicopter periodically; they are using Redonda as an observation point from which to take measurements of the Soufrière Hills
Soufrière Hills
The Soufrière Hills volcano is an active complex stratovolcano with many lava domes forming its summit on the Caribbean island of Montserrat. After a long period of dormancy, it became active in 1995, and has continued to erupt ever since...

 active volcano on Montserrat
Montserrat
Montserrat is a British overseas territory located in the Leeward Islands, part of the chain of islands called the Lesser Antilles in the West Indies. This island measures approximately long and wide, giving of coastline...

. The only postcard of Redonda was published by Kimagic.

The micronation



Redonda is internationally known, in a minor way, as a micronation
Micronation
Micronations, sometimes also referred to as model countries and new country projects, are entities that claim to be independent nations or states but which are not recognized by world governments or major international organizations...

, because of the curious on-going myth of the "Kings of Redonda
Kingdom of Redonda
The Kingdom of Redonda is a name for the micronation aspect of the tiny uninhabited Caribbean island of Redonda.This islet is situated between the islands of Nevis and Montserrat, within the inner arc of the Leeward Islands chain, in the West Indies. The island is currently legally a dependency of...

", a story which interweaves fact and fiction. According to a (possibly imaginary) version of events, first recounted decades later by M.P. Shiel, an author of fantasy novels: in the year of his birth, 1865, his father Matthew Dowdy Shiell, from Montserrat
Montserrat
Montserrat is a British overseas territory located in the Leeward Islands, part of the chain of islands called the Lesser Antilles in the West Indies. This island measures approximately long and wide, giving of coastline...

, decided to celebrate his first male child by arranging (supposedly legitimately) for the boy to be crowned King
King
- Centers of population :* King, Ontario, CanadaIn USA:* King, Indiana* King, North Carolina* King, Lincoln County, Wisconsin* King, Waupaca County, Wisconsin* King County, Washington- Moving-image works :Television:...

 of Redonda at the age of 15, in a ceremony purportedly carried out on the small island by a bishop.

M.P. Sheil, the son and author, was the first person to ever mention the idea of the "Kingdom of Redonda" and that was in a promotional leaflet for his books. Since then, the title has been "passed down", and continues to the present day. For a period of time the "Royal" lineage of Redonda had a more or less solely literary theme, with the title being given to writers and the like, such as John Gawsworth
John Gawsworth
John Gawsworth , a pseudonym of Terence Ian Fytton Armstrong , was a British writer, poet and compiler of anthologies, both of poetry and of short stories. He also used the pseudonym Orpheus Scrannel...

 and Jon Wynne-Tyson
Jon Wynne-Tyson
Jon Wynne-Tyson is a British author, publisher, activist and pacifist who founded Centaur Press in 1954. He ran Centaur Press from his home in Sussex and is a distinguished independent publisher. Centaur Press was a full-time independent publishing company until it was sold in 1998...

. Wynne Tyson later went on to publicly renounce his assumed Kingship of the island on a BBC Radio 4 documentary, Redonda: The Island with Too Many Kings, broadcast May 2007.

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