The Florida Keys

The Florida Keys

Our next destination at Island Profiles is the Florida Keys. Stretching 120 miles from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico, there are 1,700 islands overall, but only 43 are connected by the 42 bridges of the Overseas Highway, one of the longest over water roads on the planet. The word key comes from the Spanish word cayo, meaning ‘small island’. There are numerous other keys along the Florida coastline, but our focus will be the group of islands stretching from…

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Bougna, Blue Prawns, Coconut Crab and a Cocktail- The Cuisine of New Caledonia

Bougna, Blue Prawns, Coconut Crab and a Cocktail- The Cuisine of New Caledonia

The cuisine of New Caledonia is heavily influenced by its French ties. The French cooking influence is evident in the many good restaurants to be found in  and around Nouméa and includes a significant emphasis on wine and coffee. An abundance of seafood is to be found, finding its way into unforgettable gourmet creations or deliciously simple island fare. The New Caledonia blue prawn is a rare delicacy with a worldwide reputation. Other local seafood specialties include small and succulent…

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The Closest Island to Paradise – Touring the Islands of New Caledonia

The Closest Island to Paradise – Touring the Islands of New Caledonia

Let’s continue our exploration of New Caledonia with a quick tour of the islands and what they have to offer. New Caledonia is actually a piece off of the ancient continent of Gondwana, which included parts of Africa, Antarctica, Australia, South America and the Indian Subcontinent. This sets New Caledonia apart from most of the South Pacific islands, many of which are a result of volcanic activity in more recent times. The long biological history of the area has created…

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Blackbirding, Cannibals and a Referendum – New Caledonian History

Blackbirding, Cannibals and a Referendum – New Caledonian History

The history of New Caledonia begins around 1500 BC, although some sources claim evidence of settlement going back as far as 3000 BC. The Lapita people were seafarers whose origins can be traced to Taiwan and neighboring East Asian regions. They are named after the site of Lapita, where  a type of ancient pottery was unearthed. These people are thought to be the ancestors of the Polynesians, Micronesians and and some of the inhabitants of coastal Melanesia, including New Caledonia….

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New Caledonia

New Caledonia

From the islands of Scotland, which was called Caledonia by the Romans, we move across the globe to Oceania and visit New Caledonia, located on the Tropic of Capricorn in Melanesia, 450 miles east of Australia. New Caledonia is a possession of France, and is made up of Grand Terre, the main island, the Loyalty Islands, Isle of Pines, the Chesterfield Islands and the Belep Archipelago. The combined population of these islands is roughly 280,000. The official language is French,…

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The Food and Drink of the Hebrides

The Food and Drink of the Hebrides

The cuisine of the Hebrides is not much different from that of the rest of Scotland. Long traditions of crofting and fishing have shaped the cuisine of the islands and resulted in the prominence of game, fish, seafood, oats, barley and seaweed as key ingredients. Oats and barley were much easier to cultivate on the islands than wheat and therefore oatcakes and porridges are commonplace. The incredible bounty of  fresh seafood can be enjoyed fresh, cured or smoked. The many…

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Piping, Fiddling and Waulking. Music from the Hebrides Islands.

Piping, Fiddling and Waulking. Music from the Hebrides Islands.

The earliest music in the Scottish Isles was perhaps performed by traveling bards who accompanied their songs with harp. The old church music of the Hebrides has been claimed by a surprising number of researchers to be the real beginning of gospel music, which most assume to have originated from Africa and the slave experience. There were many Scottish immigrants who settled in North Carolina in the 1700s. Many of these individuals and even some of their slaves, spoke only…

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The Clans of the Hebrides

The Clans of the Hebrides

The Hebrides have been shown to have been inhabited as far back as 6500 BC. There are countless archaelogical sites throughout the islands that provide evidence of thriving communities in the Inner and Outer Hebrides. It follows logically that the Hebrides have a fascinating and complicated history. Prior to Viking rule which began in the late 8th century, the Hebrides were divided by north and south. The southern Hebrides were a part of the Gaelic kingdom of Dál Riata, which…

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The Outer Hebrides

The Outer Hebrides

Continuing farther out into the Atlantic from the Inner Hebrides, we arrive at the Western Isles, or Outer Hebrides. There are fifteen inhabited islands that belong to the main archipelago of the Outer Hebrides. There are also some smaller archipelagos that are more remote, but which are also officially part of the Outer Hebrides jurisdiction. Overall, there are over 100 islands and islets, most of which are uninhabited. The total population of the Outer Hebrides rounds up to about 27,000….

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The Inner Hebrides

The Inner Hebrides

The Inner Hebrides are a group of islands close to the west coast of Scotland. Although they only have a combined population of around 20,000 inhabitants, the islands are nevertheless incredibly rich in history, scenery and Gaelic tradition. There are two groups of islands that form the Inner Hebrides. The northern group is dominated by Skye, the largest of the Hebrides, as well as several smaller islands. The southern group includes the islands of Islay, Jura, Mull, Coll, Tiree and…

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