By which I mean: At some point in its history, all areas of the world have had zero human population. What was the most recent area to which humanity has spread?
if you discount Antarctica or other areas that are only inhabited by scientists then the answer is probably New Zealand (around 1250 AD) or Pitcairn Island (1790) but its only ever had a minuscule population.
I was thinking the Pitcairn Islands also, but Wikipedia also says that their were Polynesians there as late as the 15th century with no cite as to when they first arrived.
Bermuda was colonized in 1609.
Mauritius was first settled in 1638, and the Falklands in 1764. The first permanent settlement on Tristan de Cunha was 1810, and Ascension was first garrisoned in 1815.
Jared Diamond in “Collapse” says evidence shows there were Polynesians on Pitcairn and the two other “nearby” islands for a while but they left or died out a century or more before the Bounty crew arrived. The 3 islands did not have the right assortment of resources to support their lifestyle.
Easter Island was settled about 700 to 1100 AD, so I guess New Zealand wins.
In the end, it’s a competition of small remote islands, such as the Falklands.
South Georgia has had whaling stations, scientific bases, etc. but never a permanent habitation as far as I can tell… It probably falls into the same category as Antarctica.
Chatham Islands, 500 mi SE of New Zealand, were inhabited by a branch of Maori about 1500 so qualify as per OP if we are discounting european exploration as a source of colonization. Then the NZ Maori got guns from the white man and went on a hunting rampage across the islands…
Svalbard was first settled by the Dutch in the 17th century but they only stayed for 40 years. It has been continously inhabited since Longyearbyen has been founded in 1906.
And the archipelago of Novaya Zemlya in the Russian Arctic has been settled first in the 1870s.
Both Argentina and Chile have small numbers of families permanently (at least some stay over the winter, anyway) living on their Antarctic bases. There’ve even been children born there, the first in 1978.
I don’t know if this counts as a permanent settlement or not.