A pole of inaccessibility is defined as the most remote point on a landmass or ocean 1-4. With remote, we mean that is as far away from the coast as it could be. To be a little bit more precise, we mean the coast that separates the continents from the oceans - small lakes don't count.

This definition means that finding the pole of inaccessibility is a matter of taking a map, using a pair of compasses and finding the point where one can draw the biggest circle that does not cross the coast. On first sight, this doesn't mean a pole of inaccessibility necessarily has to be a very, well, inaccessible place. I mean, theoretically, there could be a 6-lane highway going through it.

The funny thing is, all the poles of inaccessibility are at best in a sparsely populated area, and at worst in the middle of nowhere. I shamelessly lifted the list from 1:

  • Antarctica: 82° 6' S, 54° 58' E. The location of this pole depends on whether one considers all the land of Antarctica, or just the part that is above sea level. It is apparently even harder to reach than the South pole. The Russians have made a monument here, including a bust of Lenin that faces Moscow. There also is a golden book that a visitor can sign.
  • Eurasia: 46° 17' N, 86° 40' E. This is somewhere in the north-western part of China, in a desert. I couldn't find a whole lot about this desert, apart from the fact that it holds the pole of inaccessibility - the fact that this seems to be the most relevant thing one can say about it in my opinion reflects it's not really a nexus of human civilization - and that it's covered with lichen 5
  • Australia: 23°2' S 132°10' E: This is about 240 km from Alice Springs. The closest settlement is Papunya, which is a Indigenous Australian community.
  • South America: 14.05°S 56.85°W. This is near Areanapolis in Brazil, a sparsely populated area.
  • North America: 43° 21, 101° 58' W. This is in southwest South Dakota, near Badlands National Park.
  • Africa: 5° 38 N, 26° 10' E. This is in the Central African Republic, near Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Googling the Central African Republic revealed that this was a sparsely populated part of a sparsely populated country.

If I'm allowed to speculate a bit, people like living along coasts, major rivers and lowlands. Typically, in the middle of a continent, there are no coasts, and rivers, if they exist, are still narrow. As such, these places tend to be suboptimal for human habitation. So while perhaps not the most difficult to reach spot in a continent, they are all in practice quite remote.

In conclusion, a pole of inaccessibility is the spot on a continent that is furthest away from the coast. All these places are pretty to very remote, in the sense that there are not a lot of people living there.


  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pole_of_inaccessibility
  2. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/467219/Pole-of-Inaccessibility
  3. http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/2009/10/01/pole-of-inaccessibility-portal-to-phanto m-mountain-range/
  4. http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/most-remote-place.htm
  5. Y.M. Zhang J. Chen, L. Wang, X.Q. Wang and Z.H. Gu, The spatial distribution patterns of biological soil crusts in the Gurbantunggut Desert, Northern Xinjiang, China , Journal of Arid Environments, 68, pp 599-610 b(2007)

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