Tristan Da Cunha (Coon'ya; wrongly spelt Tristan d'Acunha), an island in the South Atlantic, with two smaller ones adjoining, lies midway between South America and the Cape of Good Hope, in 37° 6' S. lat. It is 21 miles in circumference, rugged and precipitous, rising in a central conical mountain to 7640 feet. Discovered by the Portuguese in 1506, and named after the commander of the expedition, it was occupied by American sealers in 1790-1811. Possession was taken of it in 1817 by Britain to keep watch on Napoleon, then a prisoner in St Helena. On Lis death in 1821 the soldiers were withdrawn, all but a Corporal Glass and two companions, who, with some whalers founded the present settlement. The colony flourished, and in 1829 numbered 27 souls; in 1873, 80; and in 1905, 75. The settlement is in a fertile tract to the north-west, and is called Edinburgh. Property (including some 600 cattle and as many sheep) is practically held in common; there is no strong drink and no crime; and the natives are healthy and long-lived, the oldest acting as governor.
Nearly all the able-bodied men were drowned in December 1885 while attempting to board a vessel. During the American war the Shenandoah landed forty Federal prisoners here without providing for them. Inaccessible Island, 20 miles distant, harboured two Germans, who underwent a kind of Robinson Crusoe experience there (1871-73). Nightingale Island lies 10 miles farther.