One Of The Most Forbidden Places In The World Where Fewer Than 100 People Live

Emily Brown

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One Of The Most Forbidden Places In The World Where Fewer Than 100 People Live

Featured Image Credit: Photo Resource Hawaii/Alamy Stock Photo

An island in Hawaii has become known as 'Forbidden Island' after the general public were banned from stepping foot on its land.

With an area of approximately 70 square miles, Niʻihau is the smallest of the populated Hawaiian Islands, and is located 17 miles southwest of Kauai island.

It is home to various native birds, and is designated as critical habitat for the Ōlulu or Alula plant, but when it comes to humans the population of the island is sparse.

A 2000 census reported its population at 160, rising to 170 in a 2010 census. At the 2020 census, however, the population had fallen to 84.

The reason for its low population rate isn't because it's covered in spiders, rubbish or some other unappealing matter – in fact, quite the opposite. It's a lush wetland region, no doubt kept in good shape due to its lack of visitors.

In 1863, King Kamehameha IV sold the island to Elizabeth Sinclair of Scotland in exchange for $10,000 and the promise that her family would protect the island and its residents from outside influences.

Her descendants, the Kamaaina Robinson family, have since continued to live on the island, where they attempt to keep this promise by preserving Hawaiian culture.

Now the only people who are allowed to step foot on the island are the Robinson family and their relatives, US Navy personnel, government officials, and invited guests. English is taught to residents, but the preferred language is Hawaiian.

Ni‘ihau was sold to Elizabeth Sinclair in 1863. Credit: Douglas Peebles Photography/Alamy Stock Photo
Ni‘ihau was sold to Elizabeth Sinclair in 1863. Credit: Douglas Peebles Photography/Alamy Stock Photo

According to Britannica, the Navy uses the island for weapons testing, though its land also supports sheep and cattle ranching.

In 2013, residents from the island traveled to the State Capitol to plead with state lawmakers for help to protect their depleting food supply, which was being threatened as people trespassed on the land and utilised their natural resources from the shores.

Bruce Robinson explained: "Over a hundred years ago, a king asked our family to take care of the people. We're here today for that fulfilment of that promise."

Bruce's wife Leiana, who was born and raised on Ni'ihau, added: "If we don't do something about it then we won't exist."

Robinson backed his argument by pointing out the residents rarely leave the island, meaning their trip was proof of how seriously they were taking the matter.

"A promise to a king – that's important. It's the life of the people and you can't take that lightly," he explained.

Ni'ihau is currently managed by brothers Bruce and Keith Robinson.

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Topics: News, US News, Travel, World News

Emily Brown
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