The Matthew and Hunter Islands
are a group of two small and uninhabited volcanic islands
in the South Pacific, located 300 km east of New Caledonia
and south-east of Vanuatu
archipelago. Hunter Island
and Matthew Island
, 70 km apart, are claimed both by Vanuatu
(as part of Tafea province
, and considered by the people of Anatom
Island part of their custom ownership) and France
(as part of New Caledonia).
Small, arid, without fresh water and not easily accessible, the islands had no interest for Britain or France during their colonization of the Pacific in the course of the 18th and 19th centuries. France officially annexed both islands in 1929. In 1965, the United Kingdom
also claimed the two islands, as part of the New Hebrides
. France conducted a symbolic occupation in 1975. In 1980, on its independence, Vanuatu claimed sovereignty, but made no occupation of the islands. In 1979, Météo-France
set up an automatic weather station on one of the islands, and the French Navy
regularly visits both of them.
in French, the island is 0.7 km² in area, and a 177 meter high stratovolcano
located at .
Captain Thomas Gilbert of the Royal Navy
on board the Charlotte
discovered Matthew Island on 27 May 1788 and named it after the owner of his ship. The island is in fact two conic islets attached by a rocky 200-metre-wide isthmus. The western part is of lava and slag, with a serrated peak 177 metres high, and the eastern part is of......