Houghton Island



Houghton Island


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Houghton Island is a small, uninhabited island located about 720 kilometres south-east of Tasmania in the Bass Strait. The island, which is about 2.5 square kilometres in size and 1.5 kilometres offshore, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its unique ecology and fauna.

Houghton Island


The island was first sighted by Europeans in 1642, when the Dutch East India Company’s ship Batavia made a landfall while on its way to Australia. The English explorer Abel Tasman visited the island in 1644 and named it Houghton Island after Hugh Houghton, Governor of Newfoundland. It remained uninhabited until 1840, when three crewmen from the brigantine Aorist arrived and began establishing a farm.


The climate on Houghton Island is severe throughout the year. The island experiences a average of 345 days with temperatures above 18°C and an annual rainfall of 1,143 mm. The highest temperature recorded in the island’s history was 38°C on January 1, 1995 and the lowest ever recorded in all times was −8.5°C.

Non-natural flora species can be found only on Houghton Island including one commercial plant (blackberry), eleven noncommercial native fungi species and two introduced grasses: Bellis perennis and Lachnagrostis oligandra.


The island is home to a small population of about 20 people, all of whom are descendants of the three crewmen who first arrived in 1840. Most livelihoods on the island are based around farming and fishing. The culture on Houghton Island revolves around food: there is an annual BBQ festival and menu items often feature locally caught fish and marine mammals such as seals.


Houghton Island is an unincorporated territory of Canada, located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence about 800 km northeast of Montreal.

The island is administrated by a district council and has its own elected mayor who serves as the chief executive and representative for all residents on the island. The current mayor is Kelly Bennett from Houghton Island First Nation. Geography

The island is long and wide. Its maximum dimensions are about 2 km east–west by 5 km north-south with a population of 200 to 250 permanent residents. It has an area of . Most settlements on the island lie just off Houghton’s harbour, which is located at its southern tip (home to the largest commercial dock in North America).

Government services

Houghton Island is not accessible by vehicle. The island does have an airstrip, however, and flights from Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador are the only means of transportation to the island. There is no public health care available on Houghton Island; residents must rely on medical services offered by a doctor located in Gander or Montreal. There are three schools on the island, two operated by the Department of Education in Gander and one run by Houghton First Nation.


Since the island was first settled over 150 years ago, tourism has been an important part of its economy. In 2015, around 700 tourists visited the island each year. The majority of visitors come to see the wildlife and explore the local settlements, but there is also a small number of tourists who stay on the island for longer periods of time. Haughton Island is the largest island lying in Canada’s International Zone of Gander and since it belongs to Newfoundland, this zone has been first called St. Pierre et Miquelle Commune (comité exécutif) on February 15 1763.



Houghton Island is only accessible by air or water. There is no public transportation available on the island. There are only three streets: North Road, Main Street, and Church Road. The island’s economy is largely built off of tourism; however there are local buildings that residents rely on for food services as well as places where goods can be purchased (such transportation being the majority).

There is a boat dock located in Houghton Harbour which has many commercial ships carrying goods from Newfoundland to now often operates through Quebec territory.


Houghton Island’s cuisine is best described as Newfoundland or Canadianized. It has a strong seafood focus with various types of fish, lobster, and clams being common ingredients in dishes. There are also many seasonal vegetables that are used in cooking such as peas and carrots during wintertime. The island’s economy relies heavily on fishing so there is a great variety of seafood available off the coast including mackerel, herring, cod liver oil shark , and turbot.



Houghton Island is home to a great variety of wildlife including seals, birds, and bats. There are also several types of primates that can be found on the island including squirrel monkeys and macaques. The island has a rich history with regards to its wildlife and there are currently many conservation efforts underway in order to protect the species from extinction. Travel

The island is only separated by one mile of the Atlantic Ocean from Clarenville, NL. This means that unless they have family members living in Newfoundland there are not many incentives to move out further into land.


Houghton Island is a small island located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. It is about 1,200 km from the coast of North America and 1,000 km from the coast of Europe. Houghton Island is a breeding ground for penguins, and it is also a research site for studying climate change. Most of the island’s population lives in port towns that run out to the coast.

The ice road barely has room for one car, and vehicles must constantly weave around wildlife such as penguins at the most vulnerable point on Houghton Island during January through March when they are massing together above water to breed under a thick layer of snow-covered hay lingering from winter.


How Big Is Houghton Island?

The island is about 2.5 square kilometres in size and 1.5 kilometers offshore.

What Is The Population Of Houghton Island?

There are no permanent residents on the island, and there are no plans to establish any in the near future. However, during summer months tourism constitutes a major part of the economy on Houghton Island, with around 400 people visiting each day.

How Many People Live On Houghton Island?

There are no permanent residents at all. During the summer months it is common for there to be around 300 visitors each day, with a total of over 400 tourists visiting during the course of any given year.

However for part of the year (elements and not weather) tourism can be suspended due to poor sea conditions or other reasons that make travel too dangerous or far from comfortable accommodations. On average, there are about 350 tourists per week in the summer. The island is typically empty of people for half of each year (Winter)

What Is Houghton Island’s History?

The Houghton Island archipelago has always been part of the UK, and as such it does have some claim to colonial discipines. Over time this ties back into a history much older than its current inhabitants. The name originally being recorded as Houcton (Houcta Follia in modern English) by Martin Waldseemuller when he marked the island’s position on his mapping of 1515

How Did People Settle Houghton Island?

It is not entirely clear what the original owners were, but it is known for certain that Morris Henry Beem and John Delafield of Hepperstall on the Fens first established a settlement during 1575. The documentation recorded was for ‘Arriant merchants to plant upon any part of these parts’.

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