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Formerly known as Lord Howe's Island, Lord Howe Island is an island in the Tasman Sea, between Australia and New Zealand, with a land area of less than six square miles. There are two large mountains, Mount Gower and Mount Lidgbird, on the southern portion of the island. Off the southern coast is a pyramid of rock, reaching a height of 1,800 feet, known as Ball's Pyramid. At the base of the mountains are rainforests, wooded hills, and pasture. Along the western coast of the island is a coral reef lagoon.

The Lord Howe Island Group is made up of twenty-eight islands, islets, and rocks. Other islands in the group include the Admiralty Islands, the Mutton Bird Islands, and Ball Pyramid.

The Lord Howe Island Group is an unincorporated part of the Australian state of New South Wales that is administered by the Lord Howe Island Board, which reports to the New South Wales Minister for Environment and Heritage. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, consisting largely nearly untouched forest, although the island does have a population of fewer than four hundred people who live primarily in the northern part of the island, and the number of tourists allowed to be on the island at any given time is limited to four hundred.

Unlike most islands in the South Pacific, Lord Howe Island was uninhabited when it was first discovered by Europeans. The first documented sighting was in 1788, by Lieutenant Henry Lidgbird Ball, commander of the British HMS Supply, which was en route from Botany Bay with a cargo of convicts to found a penal settlement on Norfolk Island. On his return, he sent a party ashore to claim the island and Ball's Pyramid as a British possession, naming the main island for Richard Howe, who was First Lord of the Admiralty. That same year, the island was visited by four British ships, and many of its plant and animal life was recorded in journals, including the Lord Howe woodhen and the Lord Howe pigeon, which were soon hunted to extinction. Over the next decade, the island was visited by several government ships and whaling ship, including an American whaling fleet that made the island a provisioning port, leaving goats and pigs on the island as food for future visitors.

The first permanent settlement of the island was in 1834 when a British whaling ship left three men off to establish a supply station, raising pigs and goats from the feral stock that then inhabited the island. They took Maori wives and established homes there. Eventually, they were bought out by two businessmen whose employees and others settled on the island. When whaling declined in the early 1860s, scientific missions began, conducted by the Sydney Botanic Gardens, the Australian Museum, and Kew Royal Botanic Gardens.

Tourists began visiting the island in the late 1800s and soon included regular tourist runs. Tourists arrived by ship and by seaplane. However, today no more than four hundred tourists are permitted on the island at a time. Its residents are involved in the palm industry, tourism, retail, and subsistence fishing and farming. Britain had control over the island until it was passed on to New South Wale in 1855. In 1878, the NSW Parliament declared the island a Forest Preserve.

Current issues revolve around land tenure. The original settlers were squatters, so no clear title to land is possessed by island residents, who are requesting freehold title or a gift of cultivated land. This issue has heated up since Richard Armstrong, who had been appointed the administrator of the island by the NSW Parliament, was granted a 100-acre lease. In 1953, direct descendants of those who had lived on the island, under permissive occupancy status, in 1913 were given perpetual leases of up to five acres. In 1981, this was extended to residents who had been on the island for ten years or more.

 

 

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