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French Southern Territories

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The French Southern Territories (long name: Territory of the French Southern and Antarctic Lands, french: Territoire des Terres Australes et Antarctiques Francaises) are antarctic, volcanic islands in the southern Indian Ocean, south of Africa and about equidistant between Africa, Antarctica, and Australia.

The territory includes Ile Amsterdam[?], Ile Saint-Paul[?], Iles Crozet[?], and Iles Kerguelen in the southern Indian Ocean near 43°S, 67°E, along with the French-claimed sector of Antarctica, "Adelie Land." Several countries do not recognize the French claim to "Adelie Land", and France's territorial claim is suspended in accordance with the provisions of the Antarctic Treaty. It has been an overseas territory of France since 1955, administered March 25, 1998, from Paris by High Commissioner of the Republic Brigitte Girardin, assisted by Secretary General Jean-Yves Hermoso.

The "Adelie Land" claim of about 500,000 square kilometers and the islands, totaling 7781 square kilometers, have no indigenous inhabitants, though in 1997 there were about 100 researchers whose numbers varied from winter (July) to summer (January). Ile Amsterdam and Ile Saint-Paul are extinct volcanoes; the highest point in the territory is Mont Ross on Iles Kerguelen at 1850 meters. There are no airstrips on the islands and the 1232 kilometers of coastline have no ports or harbors, only offshore anchorages. However, the territory has a merchant marine fleet totaling (in 1999) 2,892,911 GRT/5,165,713 DWT, including seven bulk carriers, five cargo ships, ten chemical tankers, nine container ships, six liquified gas carriers, 24 petroleum tankers, one refrigerated cargo ship, and ten roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) carriers. This fleet is maintained as a subset of the French register that allowing French-owned ships to operate under more liberal taxation and manning regulations than permissible under the main French register.

The territory's natural resources are limited to fish and crayfish; enonomic activity is limited to servicing meteorological and geophysical research stations and French and other fishing fleets. The fish catches landed on Iles Kerguelen by foreign ships are exported to France and Reunion. The territory takes in revenues of about $18 million a year. The territory's data code is FS and its ISO 3166-1 country code (top level Internet domain) is TF.

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