Ascension Island is a volcanic island in the South Atlantic Ocean belonging to the British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha. It is roughly triangular in shape with an area of 88 km2 (34 sq mi). The west and north-west coasts have sandy beaches, but the south and southeast coastlines form steep cliffs.

The island was discovered by the Galician explorer João da Nova in 1501 when he was travelling from Portugal to India. He named it 'Ilha da Conceição', meaning Conception Island. In 1503, Afonso de Albuquerque, another explorer from Portugal, saw the island on Ascension Day, so renamed it after the Christian feast day.

The British first inhabited the island with soldiers in 1815 as a precaution after imprisoning the French emperor Napoleon on the neighbouring island of Saint Helena. In the 21st century, there are very few permanent residents. The majority of the 1,000 or so people on the island are civilians working for the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the United States Air Force (USAF), and a small number of military personnel. Both airforces have a station on the island, as does the European Space Agency.

For the children of military personnel and civilians on the island, there is one school in a village called Two Boats. There are four other settlements, with Georgetown being the capital. The USAF is based in Cat Hill, and the RAF is in both Traveller's Hill and Wideawake Airfield.

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