French Southern Territories Travel Guide: All you need to know to visit French Southern Territories in 2024
Welcome to French Southern Territories

The French Southern Territories, also known as Terres australes et antarctiques françaises (TAAF) in French, is a group of isolated and uninhabited islands in the southern Indian Ocean and the southern Antarctic regions. France administered the territories which are considered overseas territories of France. The French Southern Territories comprise several islands, including Kerguelen, Crozet, Saint-Paul, and Amsterdam islands, and Adélie Land, a sector of the Antarctic continent.

Geography:

The French Southern Territories are in the southern Indian Ocean and Antarctic regions. The islands of Kerguelen, Crozet, Saint-Paul, and Amsterdam are between Madagascar and Antarctica, while Adélie Land is on the Antarctic continent. The French Southern Territories cover a total area of about 439,781 square kilometers, making it one of the world’s largest exclusive economic zones (EEZ). The French Southern Territories have also protected nature reserves with strict regulations to preserve their unique ecosystem and wildlife. The highest peak in the French Southern Territories is Mont Ross, located in Kerguelen at about 8,850 meters above sea level.

Climate:

The climate of the French Southern Territories varies depending on the location. The islands of Kerguelen, Crozet, Saint-Paul, and Amsterdam have a sub­antarctic climate characterized by cold temperatures, strong winds, and frequent precipitation. Adélie Land, on the other hand, has a polar climate, with freezing temperatures and little rainfall.

Population:

The French Southern Territories are not permanently inhabited, and no indigenous population exists. However, temporary populations of scientists, researchers, and support staff visit the territories for scientific research and other activities. The number of inhabitants varies depending on the season, with fewer people during winter due to the harsh climate.

Government:

The French Southern Territories is an overseas territory of France, and the French government is responsible for their administration. The Prefect governed the region, representing the French government and overseeing the territories’ administration, including issues related to law enforcement, defense, and public services—the Prefect bases in Réunion, a French overseas department in the Indian Ocean.

Languages:

French is the official language of the French Southern Territories, as France administers the territories. However, due to the absence of a permanent population, there are only a few widely spoken languages in the regions. The language used for scientific research and official communication is primarily French.

Economy:

The French Southern Territories have no permanent population, and economic activities are limited to scientific research and support services for the research activities. The main economic sectors in the territories are related to scientific research, including studies on the environment, climate, and biodiversity. The government regulates fishing and tourism in the territories, and commercial activities are minimal due to the remote location and harsh weather.

Religion

The region doesn’t have a permanent population and therefore does not have any specific religious demographics. The islands are remote and largely uninhabited, with no indigenous people. However, temporary residents such as scientific researchers and support staff who stay on the islands for a short duration for research purposes may practice their religions. Still, these populations are usually small and transient.

Culture:

No distinct local culture exists as the French Southern Territories are not permanently inhabited. However, the culture of France, as the administering country, influences the territories. French language, cuisine, and customs are prevalent among the temporary populations of scientists and researchers who visit the territories for their work.

Recent History:

The French Southern Territories have a history of scientific exploration and research. French explorers and scientists have visited the islands of Kerguelen, Crozet, Saint-Paul, and Amsterdam since the 18th century, researching various fields, including geology, botany, and meteorology. In the 20th century, France established scientific research bases on these islands, which continue to be used for research today. Adélie Land, located on the Antarctic continent, has also been a site for French scientific research, particularly in glaciology. In current years, there has been a focus on environmental conservation and preserving the unique ecosystems in the French Southern Territories, including efforts to combat climate change and protect endangered species.

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Before entering southern French territory, Indian citizens need a visa and a guarantee through coordination with the government of France. Visas are available at French Embassy or consulate located in India

  • Choose the French Southern Territories visa category you need
  • Pay online
  • please send us your documents using pick up and drop off service
  • Upon approval, receive your visa

Between 1 to 2 months

Does validity go up to 90 days within the first 180 days

One has to apply for a long stay or residence permit before the expiry of the short-term visa to extend the visa in French Southern Territories.

Visa on entry is not available for Indians in French Southern Territories. Indians, as citizens of many other countries, must obtain a visa before they arrive in French Southern Territories for short visits, including family, tourism, and business.

French Southern Territories travel checklist

A currency that is Euros

Language (French)

Travel adapters

Medications

Travel documents

Emergency contact information

Transportation option

Travel essentials