Which is the Most Isolated City in the World?

It is often said that my home town, Perth Western Australia, is the most isolated city in the world. Given that many wild and boastful things are said about this city, I do wonder whether this is in fact true.

The first problem lies in defining the word “city”. Webster’s Unabridged uses “an incorporated municipality, usually governed by a mayor and a board of aldermen or councilmen”; as I understand it, a “city” in America is defined as a municipal centre that has been formally incorporated as a city by virtue of having been granted a city charter.

For the purposes of this GQ, however, let’s define “city” by a more accesible universal measure: resident population. Further, let’s pretend a population centre must be home to 500,000 or more permanent residents in order to qualify as a “city”.

(I’m open to discussion on whether this is an appropriate definition.)

The next problem lies in defining “most isolated”. For a working definition, let’s say that the “most isolated” city in the world is the city with the greatest distance between it and another city.


Population: 1.4 million.

Nearest cities:

(1) Adelaide, South Australia: 1307 miles (2104 km), as the crow flies.

(2) Surabaya, East Java Indonesia: 1705 miles (2745 km), as the crow flies.

Can this be beaten?

(Here’s a handy calculator for determining the distance between two population centres: http://www.indo.com/distance/index.html)

Everything I came up with says Perth as well.

Oh well, I guess you’re just stuck out. :smiley:

Holy cow, that’s a huge number to define a city. The city I grew up near was 1200, the one I’m in now just beat 50000. There are no cities in the state of Iowa, apparently.

I’d argue that you need to reduce your definition, by at least two orders of magnitude.

I think I found a large city that’s got ya beat Jervoise.

Of course it may not stand up to you definition. But Honolulu is nearly 2,400 miles from it’s nearest large neighbor of California. It has 400K people and no other really large cities by your definition. So, now you can relax…you not as stuck out as some folks. :slight_smile:

and Wikkit you’re right, there aren’t any cities in Iowa. :smiley:

The figure of 1.4 million for Peth seems huge. On looking at the link, I see that’s the population of the “Peth Statistical Division” which seems to include suburbs. I am guessing this is the Australian equivalent the U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Area. The Des Moines MSA, for example, has a population of 456,000 but Des Moines itself has a population of only 199,000. The Honolulu MSA has a population of 896,000 while the city itself has only 378,000.

Oh man, you got me beat. It’s only 700 miles from Winnipeg to the next nearest city (Minneapolis). We’re the coldest city though.

What Wikkit said. In Ohio, a city must have 5,000 residents, else it’s an incorporated village.

I think a city or metropolitan area fitting your criterion of 500,000 might better be called a “big city.” The majority of US and Australian states will have one or two of these. But I’ll accept that Perth is the most isolated big city in the world.

That said, I like your definition of “most isolated.”

In Australia I’m pretty certain a city is anywhere with a poppulation of over 25,000. I can recall sometime in the last 20 years Goulburn actually “qualified” as a city.

Apparently I’m completely wrong. It appears that Goulburn has been a city since 1863. So what place it was and how big it was is beyond me.

Ironically, this exact question was asked on a radio station in the Delaware Valley region. The answer was Honolulu, and at first we think how Hawaii is so far from the Continental US. Still, what if I drew a circle of radius 2400 centered on Honolulu? Is this still true? The DJ did not attempt to define a city, so I wonder…what about the other Pacific Islands? How far is Guam, for example? Or, the Island of Midway? Even if such places may not contain cities meeting the OP’s definition…I wonder if the DJ is correct?
(I haven’t played with the distance calculators yet.) - Jinx

“Perth” (as with all Australian capital cities) is understood to include the suburbs since the central business areas are overwhelmingly non-residental. There’s about 30 councils/local government areas, which make up Perth the city. The residents of the suburbs would describe their city as “Perth”; the name of one’s suburb is a smaller detail.

(As an aside, Australian suburbs appear to be much smaller than American suburbs. Here, a small suburb may encompass an area of maybe 5 square kilometres or less.)

Perhaps an analogy would be Greater London, which is made up of many boroughs. “London” is often cited as having a population of 7 million, a figure which is obviously the sum of the populations of the boroughs – not Central London alone.

don’t ask: I was unaware of that definition. Bunbury in WA’s south-west is not referred to as a “city” in common parlance, but it’s population certainly exceeds 25,000.

Come to think of it, there’s a certain university here in Perth which has a student population of 25,000!

t-keela: good call on Honolulu!


Hawaii is the most isolated population center on the face of the earth. Hawaii is 2,390 miles from California; 3,850 miles from Japan; 4,900 miles from China; and 5,280 miles from the Philippines.

from the cite I posted before.

and Jervoise see…you’re not as stuck out as some. :wink:

Wikkit: different regional usages, I guess. I’d describe a centre with a population of 1,200 or even 50,000 as a town, not a city.

(Heck, most locals here jokingly describe Perth as a country town!)

So, anybody here ever been to Hammerfest, Norway? I hear it’s outta the way some itself. It gets pretty damned cold there too at(70+ deg.Nth.lat.)

I’d much rather be isolated in Perth or even Honolulu… :smiley:

Urümqi in western China, or Ulaan Bataar in Mongolia?

Sure, they probably don’t count as the most isolated, but they might get into the top 10.

Here are a bunch of isolated cities.

I’m surprised none has mentioned Punta Arenas, Chile.

Manaus, Brazil is another strong cotender, I believe.

Hammerfest is neither particularly isolated nor, local boasts to the contrary, particularly city-like. It has a population of around 7000 and isn’t even the largest town in the area - that honor goes to Alta, with something like 9000.

And being on a coast that faces into the Gulf Stream, it has a much milder climate than North American or Siberian towns at the same latitude. Windy as hell, though, or so I’ve heard. I’ve never been in Hammerfest proper, just on the highway going past. Pretty country up there, but you are in the Arctic; look out for the giant mutant heat-seeking man-eating mosquitoes :eek:

Not a city by a long shot, but Rapa Nui (Easter Island) has got to be the most isolated populated place on Earth, defined as farthest from the next populated place of any size at all.

It’s 2200 miles from the coast of South America, and 1200 miles from Pitcairn. That, I think, is the longest stretch to cross with no people at all.

(This is not counting Antarctica as a “populated place,” since the scientists staying at McMurdo Sound or whatever are only visitors and not actual residents.)

My money is on Vladivostok.

An American definition of “city” isn’t really going to be practical, given that many “cities” in the US would barely count as villages elsewhere, but get the title by virtue of having a charter. Cocoa, Florida, for example.

I’d submit that a fairer definition of a city is any municipality with a population over 200k. Jervoise, your definition of most isolated makes the most sense, I think.

Under this definition my money’s on Vladivostok, or possibly Honolulu. Are there 200K+ people on any of the Azores?