Hello, Christiansø?
A view from Christiansø of the Little Tower (Lille Tårn) on the neighbouring island of Frederiksø. Photo by Konrad Kerker / Shutterstock

Hello, Christiansø?

Life on the Ertholmene Archipelago
Ewa Pawlik
time 9 minutes

If you find yourself near the Baltic Sea and dreaming of an exotic island getaway, you don’t have far to go. Just head to the Danish island of Christiansø. It’s an eco-friendly trip, a slow-living excursion.

In the Danish part of the Baltic, roughly in between Sweden and Poland, the Ertholmene archipelago rises from the waves. It includes several baby islands and a couple more impressive ones, though they’re rather child-sized. Only the larger ones are inhabited: Frederiksø (named after Frederick IV) and Christiansø (named in honour of Christian V).

The islands are made from granite, and opinions are divided on who created them. What’s known for sure is that around the year 1000, some Baltic pirates took a liking to the islands and established their base there – they’d sail out to plunder ships going to and from the ports on Bornholm. At a certain point, King Cnut the Great became irritated by this, and he sent his representative, the Viking Egil, to knock the pirates into line. But Egil rebelled, and after dealing with the pirates, he started plundering on his own. He became famous for burning a ship, together with its crew, off the coast of Norway.

30 years later, the island was still inhabited by bad guys. This time it was former privateers of the Hanseatic League, who like Egil before them turned to crime and mercilessly plundered their former employers as they transported


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Bravo, Okinawa!

Bravo, Okinawa!

The Secret to a Long Life
Aleksandra Reszelska

On the Japanese island Okinawa, which is hot like lava and full of ghosts, soldiers and blissful views, people live much longer than in other parts of the world. What is the secret behind their longevity? With a dose of dark humour typical of the Japanese, my friend once told me something that stayed in my memory for a long time: “If you were born in Okinawa, and you happen to sneeze, there will always be someone to respond: a soldier from the military base, a family member, or a stray ghost.”

I remember this joke, since it perfectly captures the spirit of Okinawa – its local nature, unique history and love for folklore. Hailed as the ‘Japanese Hawaii’ or the ‘Galapagos of the East’, it’s a fascinating place full of paradoxes. Its tropical climate and azure waters intermingle with memories of the bloody battles of World War II. In the Okinawa Prefecture, there are still 26,000 American soldiers, which accounts for more than half of the US troops now stationed in Japan (their military presence is disapproved of by 80% of the Japanese). Located south of the island of Kyushu, Okinawa is closer to Taipei (645 kilometres) than Tokyo (1555 kilometres). Until the mid-19th century, it was an entirely separate country known as the Ryukyu Kingdom, with its own language and rich culture. Nowadays, the Okinawan economy is weak, which comes as no surprise, since only 49 out of the 160 islands that make up its archipelago are populated. Perhaps this is why the idea that there is something ‘non-Japanese’ about the Okinawans is so deeply-rooted here?

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