The Kerguelen Islands, also known as the Desolation Islands, are a series of sub-Antarctic islands that form one of two exposed portions of the Kerguelen Plateau, a vast igneous province that is primarily submerged in the southern Indian Ocean. They are among the most remote regions in the planet, located almost 3,300 kilometers from Madagascar. The main island, Grande Terre, is almost three-quarters the size of Corsica and is ringed by an archipelago of 300 smaller islands and islets. Throughout the year, the climate is harsh and frigid, with frequent high winds. The surrounding seas are often turbulent, but they are ice-free all year. There are no indigenous people, but France maintains a permanent garrison of 45 to 100 soldiers, scientists, engineers, and researchers. Because the islands lack airports, all travel to and from the outside world is done by ship.