General issues: French overseas territory 1955-Present
Country name on general issues: Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises
Currency: 1 (CFA) Franc = 100 Centimes 1955-Present
Population: No permanent population – a fluctuating number military, scientific and support staff resides in the territory.
Political history French Southern & Antarctic Lands
The French Southern & Antarctic Lands – in French ‘Terres Australes et Antarctiques Françaises’, TAAF – are a number of French possessions scattered across the Indian Ocean and Antarctica.
In the southern Indian Ocean, the Crozet and Kerguelen Islands are first claimed by France in 1772, Amsterdan Island and Saint Paul Island follow in 1792. A small stretch of land on Antarctica – ‘Terre Adélie’ in French – is claimed by France form 1840. These claims are formalized in 1924 when the territories are grouped together as a colony and to be administered as a dependency of Madagascar. In the advance of the independence of Madagascar, the dependency is detached from Madagascar in 1955 to form a separate French overseas territory which it is until today.
A second part of TAAF is formed by a number of islands close to Madagascar called the Îles Éparses or Scattered Islands. The Scattered Islands are:
- Tromelin Island – annexed by France in 1814, first administered from Réunion and in 1897 made part of Madagascar.
- The Glorioso Islands – first claimed by France in 1892, annexed by France in 1897, first administered from Mayotte and in 1912 made part of Madagascar.
- Bassas da India, Europa Island and Juan da Nova Island – annexed by France in 1897 and subsequently incorporated into Madagascar.
When Madagascar gains independence in 1960, the Scattered Islands are detached from Madagascar as a separate French overseas territory administered from Réunion. In 2005, the Scattered Islands are transferred to TAAF to be incorporated into TAAF in 2007.
Several of the territories in TAAF are disputed. The claim on Terre Adélie is not recognized internationally – as are none of the claims that several other countries have on Antarctica. Bassa da India, Europa Island and Juan da Nova Island are claimed by Madagascar, the Glorioso Islands by Madagascar and the Comoros and Tromelin Island by Madagascar and Mauritius.
None of the territories of TAAF have permanent inhabitants. The territories are used for military and meteorological stations and bases for scientific research and, as such, are the temporary home to military and civilian staff.
Postal history French Southern & Antarctic Lands
Stamps of France are known to have been used on expeditions to the French Southern & Antarctic Lands from 1896. Between 1948 and 1955 stamps of Madagascar have been used. Stamps are issued for the French Southern & Antarctic Lands from 1955. The stamps issued are all related to the aspects of life on the French Southern & Antarctic Lands: wildlife, scenery, and scientific research.