The International Poles of Inaccessibility
June 22, 2020 Author: Erin Harris, Director of Customer Experience
Do you have a “bucket list”? If you do, you may want to add visiting one, or all, of the Poles of Inaccessibility! Why are the Poles of Inaccessibility such a drawing point for a “list of to-dos” in a person’s lifetime? First of all, what a way to see the world! Each global landmass has a Pole of Inaccessibility located within its boundaries. Secondly, to visit such locations, travelers would be placed in some of the most remote areas of the world, face major physical challenges in their quest, and once successful, find themselves at the farthest point from any coastline and any sea or ocean.
Eurasian Pole of Inaccessibility
Consider the Eurasian Pole of Inaccessibility located in northwest China in the Gurbantünggüt Desert bordered by Mongolia, Kazakhstan, and Russia. The area is arid and rugged, separated by mountains and salt lakes, and the population located there uses glacier-fed streams to irrigate the deserts of the area. The desert is the most remote point of the continent far from any sea or coastline; exactly 1600 miles away! The area was reached in 1986 by British explorers with the precise location given as 46°16.8′N 86°40.2′E.
The revival of interest in the pole in the corner of China began with the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) initiative that was introduced in 2013 by the Chinese as a means to connect China with the western European countries. The Khorgas Gateway – located on the border of Kazakhstan and China - became a point of interest for the Chinese as a means to making a European connection through its Belt and Road Initiative (OBOR), or the “One Belt, One Road” program as it is also known. The Khorgas Gateway was the ideal location for a dry port as both Kazakhstan and China had rail services within their infrastructure in this remote area. Despite the differences in the rail gauges used by both countries – China utilizes the standard Western European gauge; Kazakhstan the Russian gauge – the Kazakhstan port served the purpose for the exchange of goods as containers from the Chinese rail cars could be transferred via crane at the Chinese – Kazakhstan border to accommodate the Russian-type rail cars and reversed at the border of Kazakhstan and Poland in the city of Siemianówka to accommodate the European standard.
With the revival of the old Silk Road concept, China has been able to cut in half the export of goods to Europe. What once took 40 days to transport goods from Yiwi in Zhejiang Province to London by maritime vessel now has been reduced in half to 18 – 20 days by rail service.
The symbiotic relationship between Kazakhstan and China is immense - China acquires a transportation corridor to the Baltic, while importing opportunities with Kazakhstan for minerals, metals and energy are increased; Kazakhstan, with its mining industry, acquires a new window to the world for the export of its minerals, metals (e.g. copper, aluminum, zinc, iron, chromium, etc.), ferroalloys, steel, and oil while benefitting from Chinese manufacturing and technological imports.
A dry port in one of the most remote regions of the world - where temperatures can reach minus 40 in winter and containers must be heated to extreme heat in the summer months where containers must be refrigerated to prevent spoilage of food products - the Khorgas Gateway, the “Largest Dry Port in the World,” is considered to potentially become the “Dubai of Kazakhstan.” Kazakhstan is Central Asia’s largest economy and is projected to become a most developed country by 2050.
As previously mentioned, each landmass has a Pole of Accessibility. If traveling to the remote areas of China and Kazakhstan are a bit overwhelming, perhaps visiting one of the other continental landmasses would be more your style!
African Pole of Inaccessibility
The African Pole - found at the borders of the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan – is located at 5.65°N 26.17°E; expect to experience a savanna covered area with a tropical climate with dry and rainy seasons.
Australian Pole of Inaccessibility
Australian Pole - located in the Northern Territory – can be found along a dirt road that connects Lake Lewis and the town of Papunya; an access permit is required as the land actually is restricted Aboriginal land.
South American Pole of Inaccessibility
The South American Pole - 14.05°S 56.85°W - is an area covered by waterfalls and canyons that are lush with vegetation. The pole is actually surrounded by Brazilian highways that go around, but not through, the pole.
Oceanic Pole of Inaccessibility
The Oceanic Pole - located in the Pacific Ocean - is found between Chile and New Zealand. Its nearest landmass is 1670 miles away in the cluster of Ducie Island (Pitcairn Islands), Motu Nui (Easter Islands), and Maher Island. The area is also known as “Point Nemo,” as the point is considered “lifeless.” The area has become a cemetery of decommissioned aircraft, satellites, and space stations; the remoteness of the area makes reentry of such vehicles a simpler task with a lessened risk of hurting civilians.
North American Pole of Inaccessibility
The North American Pole, located at 43.36°N 101.97°W and just seven miles from Allen, South Dakota, should be on everyone’s bucket list! Located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, an Oglala Lakota Indian reservation, the pole is 1030 miles from the nearest coastline. Expect hot and humid summers; freezing winters.
Southern Pole of Inaccessibility
The Southern Pole is located in the Antarctic. If you get there you will find a bust of Lenin looking towards Moscow. This area was the location of the Soviet Union Research Station. The Pole is considered a historical site, and for those who make it to the remote area, they can sign the golden visitors' book within the long-deserted research station building.
Northern, or Arctic Pole
The Northern, or Arctic Pole is a bit more difficult to designate specifically as it is located on melting and shifting ice pack. It is located 680 miles from the nearest landmass.
So, get your adventure on! Visit one of these challenging and educational experiences; importing and exporting opportunities may await!