Remote island home of spies and turtles opens its doors to tourists
Thursday 05 February 1998
This British-owned fly speck in the mid-Atlantic between Africa and Brazil is to be opened for the first time to civilian flights, and the island is already gearing up for tourists. It is unlikely to be a mad rush. The cost of getting there will be high; and the number of available beds for visitors is tiny. Ascension, with a semi-permanent population of about 100, is one of the strangest places in the world, a James Bond island if ever there was one.
The island has a US Air Force base and it played a crucial role as a staging post in the Falklands War. But with the end of the Cold War it has started to become less useful. The super-secretive Central Signals Organisation, the overseas branch of GCHQ, runs a listening operation there.
Opening Ascension to civilian traffic has long been an aim of the island's enterprising Administrator, Roger Huxley. It will help prop up Ascension's microeconomy and also provide a vital new transport link for the 6,000 islanders of St Helena.
The island rises steeply out of the sea in the middle of nowhere. Formed by successive volcanic eruptions, it is interspersed with harsh fields of volcanic rock. One common description is "hell with the fires turned off". But the main peak in the centre of the island is covered with dense vegetation.
The island's attractions are mainly natural. It plays host to green turtles which swim hundreds of miles across the Atlantic to lay their eggs on its sandy beaches.
Just as fascinating are the mementoes of British and American military occupation - from the Victorian forts to satellite tracking systems.
- Andrew Marshall
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let’s see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 2 Gingers face extinction due to climate change, scientists warn
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Jennifer Lawrence face palms Emma Watson at Christian Dior show in Paris
Gingers face extinction due to climate change, scientists warn
Pamplona Running of the Bulls 2014: Briton critically injured in San Fermin festival
Elephant 'cries' while being rescued after 50 years of abuse in India
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
British jihadist calls for 'flag of Islam' over Downing Street and Buckingham Palace
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
£25000 - £40000 per annum + 23 days holiday Pension Scheme: Deerfoot IT Resour...
£90 - £130 per day + competitive rates, pension scheme: Randstad Education Man...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits : Deerfoot IT Resources Limited...
£100 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Manchester Primary: Key Stage 1 Teache...