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Georgetown, Ascension Island

Georgetown is the capital of remote Ascension Island, part of a British Overseas Territory that also includes St Helena and the Tristan da Cunha archipelago. Situated in the South Atlantic roughly midway between South America and South Africa, Ascension was first discovered by Portuguese explorer João da Nova in 1501; it remained uninhabited until 1815, when a small British naval garrison was stationed there. The wild, rugged island is curiously dominated by Green Mountain, a 2,800-foot-high volcanic peak wrapped in lush forest thanks to a massive planting program in the mid-1800. This artificial ecosystem, originally created to produce a fresh water supply, is now a national park dense with bamboo groves, banana trees, eucalyptus, Norfolk pines, and endemic ferns. The first underwater telegraph cable, laid in 1858, passed through Ascension, and the island has played a principal role in telecommunications ever since; it also is home to British and American military bases. Employment is required for the island’s 800 or so residents, nearly half of whom live in Georgetown. Ascension is an important breeding ground for endangered green sea turtles, and you can witness female turtles come ashore to lay their eggs on a beach near the center of town.