List of first human settlements

This is a list of dates associated with the prehistoric peopling of the world (first known presence of Homo sapiens).

Overview map of the peopling of the world by anatomically modern humans (numbers indicate dates in thousands of years ago [kya])

The list is divided into four categories, Middle Paleolithic (before 50,000 years ago), Upper Paleolithic (50,000 to 12,500 years ago), Holocene (12,500 to 500 years ago) and Modern (Age of Sail and modern exploration). List entries are identified by region (in the case of genetic evidence spatial resolution is limited) or region, country or island, with the date of the first known or hypothesised modern human presence (or "settlement", although Paleolithic humans were not sedentary).

Human "settlement" does not necessarily have to be continuous; settled areas in some cases become depopulated due to environmental conditions, such as glacial periods or the Toba volcanic eruption.[1] Early Homo sapiens migrated out of Africa from as early as 270,000 years ago, although these early migrations may have died out and permanent Homo sapiens presence outside of Africa may not have been established until about 70-50,000 years ago.

Middle PaleolithicEdit

Before Homo sapiens, Homo erectus had already spread throughout Africa and non-Arctic Eurasia by about one million years ago. The oldest known evidence for anatomically modern humans (as of 2017) are fossils found at Jebel Irhoud, Morocco, dated about 360,000 years old.[2]

Region Country Date (kya) Place Notes Ref(s)
Africa, North Africa Morocco 379–254 Jebel Irhoud Anatomically modern human remains of eight individuals dated 300,000 years old, making them the oldest known remains categorized as "modern" (as of 2018). [2]
Asia, West Asia Turkey 316–219 Neanderthal admixture Genetic evidence for early Homo sapiens admixture to Neanderthals in West Asia, discovered in 2017. [3]
Asia, Southeast Asia India 385–250 South India Quartzite tools excavated at Attirampakkam were dated back to 250,000-385,000 years old. [4]
Africa, Horn of Africa Ethiopia 200–190 Omo Kibish Formation The Omo remains of modern humans found in 1967 near the Ethiopian Kibish Mountains, dated stratigraphically to 195 ± 5 ka, may be related to Ledi-Geraru. [5]
Asia, West Asia Israel 195–177 Misliya Cave, Mount Carmel Fossil maxilla is apparently older than remains found at Skhyul and Qafzeh. Layers dating from between 250,000 and 140,000 years ago in the same cave contained tools of the Levallois type which could put the date of the first migration even earlier if the tools can be associated with the modern human jawbone finds.[6][7] [8]
Africa, Southern Africa South Africa 200–110 Klasies River Caves, population genetics Remains found in the Klasies River Caves in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa show signs of human hunting dated c. 125 ka. There is some debate as to whether these remains represent anatomically modern humans.

Evidence from population genetics suggests separation before 110 ka,[9] most likely between 130 and 200 ka.[10]

Africa, East Africa Sudan 160–140 Singa Anatomically modern human discovered 1924 with rare temporal bone pathology [13][14]
Asia, West Asia, Arabia United Arab Emirates 125 Jebel Faya Stone tools made by anatomically modern humans (discovered 2011). [15]
Asia, West Asia, Arabia Oman 125–75 Aybut Tools found in the Dhofar Governorate correspond with African objects from the so-called 'Nubian Complex', dating from 75 to 125,000 years ago. According to archaeologist Jeffrey I. Rose, human settlements spread east from Africa across the Arabian Peninsula. [16]
Africa, Central Africa Democratic Republic of the Congo 90 Katanda, Upper Semliki River Semliki harpoon heads carved from bone. [17]
Asia, Southeast Asia India 80 Central India Archaeological excavation carried out in the trenches at Dhaba in the upper Son river valley found stone tools and other evidences of human occupation in this area 80,000 years back. [18]
Asia, East Asia China, PRC 80 Fuyan Cave Teeth were found under rock over which 80,000 years old stalagmites had grown. [19]
Africa, North Africa Libya 80–65 Haua Fteah Fragments of 2 mandibles discovered in 1953 [20]
Asia, South Asia Sri Lanka 70–66 population genetics

Genetic evidence suggests first settlement 70–66 kya. Available fossil evidence from Sri Lanka has been dated to 34 kya.

Asia, Southeast Asia Sumatra, Indonesia 73–63 Lida Ajer cave Teeth found in Sumatra in the 19th century [23]
Asia, Southeast Asia Luzon, Philippines 67 Callao Cave Mijares and Piper (2010) found bones in a cave near Peñablanca, Cagayan, dated ca. 67 kya, the oldest known modern human fossil from the Asia-Pacific region. However, these may belong to a different species, Homo luzonensis. [24]
Africa, North Africa Egypt 50–80 Taramasa Hill Skeleton of 8- to 10-year-old child discovered in 1994 [25]
Australia Arnhem Land, Australia 65–50 Madjedbebe The oldest human skeletal remains are the 40ky old Lake Mungo remains in New South Wales, but human ornaments discovered at Devil's Lair in Western Australia have been dated to 48 kya and artifacts at Madjedbebe in Northern Territory are dated to at least 50 kya, and to 62.1±2.9 ka (95% CI) in one 2017 study.[26] [27][28][29]

Upper PaleolithicEdit

Region Country / island Date (kya) Place Notes Ref(s)
South America Northeast Region, Brazil 56–41? Pedra Furada Hypothetical Pleistocene peopling of the Americas: charcoal from the oldest layers yielded dates of 41,000–56,000 BP. [30]
Asia, East Asia Honshu, Japan 47 Lake Nojiri Genetic research indicates arrival of humans in Japan by 37,000 BP. Archeological remains at the Tategahana Paleolithic Site at Lake Nojiri have been dated as early as 47,000 BP. [21][31]
Asia, Southeast Asia, Indochina Laos 46 Tam Pa Ling Cave In 2009 an ancient skull was recovered from a cave in the Annamite Mountains in northern Laos which is at least 46,000 years old, making it the oldest modern human fossil found to date in Southeast Asia [32]
Europe 46–43 The earliest known remains of Cro-Magnon-like humans are radiocarbon dated to 43,000–46,000 BP, found in Bulgaria, Italy, and Great Britain. [33][34]
Europe Bulgaria 46-44 Bacho Kiro cave A tooth and six bone fragments are the earliest modern human remains yet found in Europe. [35]
Europe Italy 45–44 Grotta del Cavallo, Apulia Two baby teeth discovered in Apulia in 1964. [36]
Europe Great Britain, United Kingdom 44–41 Kents Cavern Human jaw fragment found in Torquay, Devon in 1927 [37]
Europe Germany 43–42 Geißenklösterle, Baden-Württemberg Three Paleolithic flutes belonging to the early Aurignacian, which is associated with the assumed earliest presence of Homo sapiens in Europe (Cro-Magnon). It is the oldest example of prehistoric music. [38]
Europe, Baltic Lithuania 43–41 Šnaukštai [lt] near Gargždai A hammer made from reindeer horn similar to those used by the Bromme culture was found in 2016. The discovery pushed back the earliest evidence of human presence in Lithuania by 30,000 years, i.e. to before the last glacial period. [39]
Asia, Southeast Asia East Timor 42 Jerimalai cave Fish bones [40]
Australia Tasmania 41 Jordan River Levee Optically stimulated luminescence results from the site suggest a date ca. 41,000 BP. Rising sea level left Tasmania isolated after 8000 BP. [41]
Asia, Southeast Asia Borneo, Malaysia 46–34? Niah Cave A human skull in Sarawak, Borneo (Archaeologists have claimed a much earlier date for stone tools found in the Mansuli valley, near Lahad Datu in Sabah, but precise dating analysis has not yet been published.) [42][43]
Asia, Southeast Asia New Guinea 40 Indonesian Side of New Guinea Archaeological evidence shows that 40,000 years ago, some of the first farmers came to New Guinea from the South-East Asian Peninsula. [21]
Europe Romania 42–38 Peștera cu Oase [44][45]
Asia, East Asia Hong Kong, PRC 39 Wong Tei Tung Optically stimulated luminescence results from the site suggest a date ca. 39,000 BP. [46]
Europe Russia 40–35? Mamontovaya Kurya Earliest evidence of human (not necessarily anatomically modern humans) presence at Arctic latitudes. [47]
Asia, Central Asia, Tibetan Plateau Tibet, PRC 38 Salween River Formerly dated to 15 kya, the date modern human presence in Tibet has been pushed back to at least 38 kya based on genetic evidence. Archaeological evidence from the bank of the Salween River in the southeastern Tibetan Plateau was dated between 32 and 39 kya. [48][49][50]
Asia, South Asia Sri Lanka 34 Fa Hien Cave The earliest remains of anatomically modern man, based on radiocarbon dating of charcoal, have been found in the Fa Hien Cave in western Sri Lanka. [51]
North America Canada 40–25? Bluefish Caves Hypothetical Pleistocene peopling of the Americas: Human-worked mammoth bone flakes found at Bluefish Caves, Yukon. [52][53]
Asia, East Asia Okinawa 32 Yamashita-cho cave, Naha city Bone artifacts and an ash seam dated to 32,000±1000 BP. [54]
Europe France 32 Chauvet Cave The cave paintings in the Chauvet Cave in southern France have been called the earliest known cave art, though the dating is uncertain. [55]
Europe Czech Republic 31 Mladeč caves Oldest human bones that clearly represent a human settlement in Europe. [56]
Europe Poland 30 Obłazowa Cave A boomerang made from mammoth tusk
Asia, Southeast Asia Buka Island, New Guinea 28 Kilu Cave Flaked stone, bone, and shell artifacts [57]
Asia, East Asia Taiwan, Republic of China 30–20 In 1972, fragmentary fossils of anatomically modern humans were found at Chouqu and Gangzilin, in Zuojhen District, Tainan, in fossil beds exposed by erosion of the Cailiao River. Though some of the fragments are believed to be more recent, three cranial fragments and a molar tooth have been dated as between 20,000 and 30,000 years old. The find has been dubbed "Zuozhen Man". No associated artifacts have been found at the site. [58][59]
Europe Portugal 25 Abrigo do Lagar Velho Possible Neanderthal/Cro-Magnon hybrid, the Lapedo child [60]
North America United States 22 Lake Otero Human footprints in White Sands National Park in New Mexico. Stone, bone, and wood artifacts and animal and plant remains dating to 16,000 BP in Meadowcroft Rockshelter, Washington County, Pennsylvania. (Earlier claims have been made, but not corroborated, for 50,000 BP at sites such as Topper, South Carolina.) [61][62][63]
Europe Sicily 20 San Teodoro cave Human cranium dated by gamma-ray spectrometry [64]
South America Chile 18.5-14.5 Monte Verde Carbon dating of remains from this site represent the oldest known settlement in South America. [65][66]
South America Peru 14 Pikimachay Stone and bone artifacts found in a cave of the Ayacucho complex [67]
North America Santa Rosa Island 13 Arlington Springs site Arlington Springs Man discovered in 1959. The four northern Channel Islands of California were once conjoined into one island, Santa Rosae


Region Country / island Date Place Notes Ref(s)
Europe, British Isles Ireland, Republic of Ireland 12,500 BP Gwendoline Cave The patella of a bear, which was subject to butchering close to the time of death has been radiocarbon dated to 10,500 BCE [68]
Mediterranean Cyprus 12,500 BP Aetokremnos Burned bones of megafauna [69]
Americas, South America Colombia 12,500 BP El Abra Stone, bone and charcoal artifacts [70]
Americas, North America Triquet Island 12,000 BP British Columbia [71][72]
Europe, Scandinavia Norway 11,000 BP Aukra The oldest remnants of the so-called Fosna culture were found in Aukra in Møre og Romsdal. [73]
Americas, South America Argentina 11,000 BP Piedra Museo Spear heads and human fossils [74]
Europe, Baltic Estonia 11,000 BP Pulli The Pulli settlement on the bank of the Pärnu River briefly pre-dates that at Kunda, which gave its name to the Kunda culture. [75]
Atlantic / Central Africa Bioko, Equatorial Guinea 10,000 BP Early Bantu migration [76]
Asia, Southeast Asia, Indochina Cambodia 9,000 BP Laang Spean Laang Spean cave in the Stung Sangker River valley, Battambang Province [77]
Madhya Pradesh India 8,000 BP Bhimbetka rock shelters The Bhimbetka rock shelters are an archaeological site in central India that spans the Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods, as well as the historic period [144]
Arctic, New Siberian Islands Zhokhov Island 8,300 BP Hunting tools and animal remains in the High Arctic; later abandoned and still uninhabited [78][79]
Pacific Tuvalu 8,000 BP? Caves of Nanumanga Evidence of fire in a submerged cave last accessible 8000 BP[dubious ]. Polynesian settlement around 3000 BP in Tuvalu [80]
Mediterranean Malta 7,250 BP Għar Dalam Settlers from Sicily brought agriculture and impressed ware pottery. [81][unreliable source?]
Americas, Caribbean Trinidad 7,000 BP Banwari Trace Stone and bone artifacts mark the oldest archaeological site in the Caribbean. [82]
Americas, Caribbean Puerto Rico 6,000 BP Angostura site Carbon dating of burial site [83]
Arctic, North America Greenland 4,000 BP Saqqaq Saqqaq culture was the first of several waves of settlement from northern Canada and from Scandinavia. [84]
Arctic, North America Baffin Island, Canada 4,000 BP Pond Inlet In 1969, Pre-Dorset remains were discovered, with seal bones radiocarbon dated to 2035 BCE [85]
Asia, Central Asia Xinjiang, PRC 3,800 BP? Tarim Basin Tarim mummies [86]
Pacific Mariana Islands 3,500 BP? Unai Bapot, Saipan Pottery similar to that from nowadays Philippines has been discovered. This was the longest human ocean voyage at the time. [87][88]
Arctic, Siberia Wrangel Island 3,400 BP Chertov Ovrag Sea-mammal hunting tools; later abandoned, with intermittent settlements 1914–present [89]
Pacific Tonga 3,180 BP Pea village on Tongatapu Radiocarbon dating of a shell found at the site dates the occupation at 3180±100 BP. [90]
Pacific Fiji 3,000 BP Bourewa, Nadroga Radiocarbon dating of a shell midden at Bourewa on Viti Levu Island shows earliest inhabitation at 1220–970 BCE. [91]
Atlantic / North Africa Canary Islands 3,000 BP Genetic studies show relation to Moroccan Berbers, but precise date uncertain. [92]
Pacific Vanuatu 3,000 BP Teouma etc. Lapita pottery found at Teouma cemetery on Efate and on several other islands. [93]
Pacific Samoa 3,000 BP Mulifanua Lapita site found at Mulifanua Ferry Berth Site by New Zealand scientists in the 1970s. [94]
Pacific Hawaii 1,700 BP Ka Lae Early settlement from the Marquesas Islands [95]
Pacific Line Islands 1,600 BP When Polynesian traders travelling to and from Hawaii [96]
Indian Ocean / East Africa Madagascar 1,500 BP The population of Madagascar seems to have derived in equal measures from Borneo and East Africa. [97]
Atlantic / Northern Europe Faroe Islands 1,500 BP Agricultural remains from three locations were analysed and dated to as early as the sixth century CE [98]
Indian Ocean / East Africa Comoros 1,450 BP Austronesian settlers arrived no later than the 6th century, based on archaeological evidence on Nzwani; settlement beginning as early as the 1st century has been postulated. [99]
Americas, Caribbean Bahamas 1,100 BP Three Dog Site (SS21), San Salvador Island Excavated midden includes quartz and Ostionoid ceramic artifacts, wood and seed remains, etc., dated to 800–900. [100]
Pacific Huahine, Society Islands (French Polynesia) 1,140 BP Fa'ahia Bird bones dated to 1140±90 BP [101]
Atlantic / Northern Europe Iceland CE 874 / 1,076 BP Reykjavík Ingólfr Arnarson, the first known Norse settler who came from mainland Norway, built his homestead in Reykjavík this year, though Norse or Hiberno-Scottish monks might have arrived up to two hundred years earlier. [102]
Pacific Easter Island CE 750–1150 / 1,200–800 BP Anakena Settled by voyagers from the Marquesas Islands, possibly as early as CE 300. [103]
Pacific New Zealand CE 1250 / 700 BP Wairau Bar It is generally accepted that the islands were permanently settled by Eastern Polynesians (the ancestors of the Māori) who arrived about 1250–1300. [104][105]
Pacific Norfolk Island CE 1250 / 700 BP Emily Bay Settled by Polynesians, later abandoned. Resettled by British 1788. [106][107]
Pacific Auckland Islands CE 1250 / 700 BP Sandy Bay, Enderby Island Settled by Polynesians, later abandoned. Resettled from the Chatham Islands in 1842, later abandoned. [107]
Pacific Kermadec Islands CE 1350 / 600 BP Settled by Polynesians by the 14th century (possibly previously, around the 10th century), later abandoned. Resettled by Europeans in 1810, later abandoned. [108]
Atlantic / North Africa Madeira CE 1420 / 530 BP Settlers from Portugal. [109]
Atlantic Azores CE 1439 / 511 BP Santa Maria Island Settlers from Portugal led by Gonçalo Velho Cabral. [110]
Atlantic / West Africa Cape Verde CE 1462 / 488 BP Cidade Velha Settlers from Portugal founded the city as "Ribeira Grande." [111]
Atlantic / Central Africa São Tomé and Príncipe CE 1485 / 465 BP São Tomé Portuguese settlement in 1485 failed but was followed in 1493 by a successful settlement led by Álvaro Caminha. [112]


Sea / region Island Date Place Notes Ref(s)
Pacific Ocean Chatham Islands 1500 Moriori settlers from New Zealand. This was the last wave of Polynesian migrations. [113]
South Atlantic Saint Helena 1516 Settled by Fernão Lopes (soldier). Later populated by escaped slaves from Mozambique and Java, then by English in 1659. [114]
South Atlantic / Central Africa Annobón 1543 Alvaro da Cunha requested Portuguese royal charter in 1543 and by 1559 had settled Africans slaves there. [115]
North Atlantic Bermuda 1609 Settled by English survivors of the Sea Venture shipwreck, led by George Somers.
Arctic, Northern Europe Svalbard 1619 Smeerenburg Settled by Dutch and Danish whalers 1619–1657. Longyearbyen founded 1906 and continuously inhabited except for World War II. [116]
Indian Ocean Mauritius 1638 Vieux Grand Port First settled by Dutch under Cornelius Gooyer. [117]
Indian Ocean Réunion 1642 Settled 1642 by a dozen deported French mutineers from Madagascar, who were returned to France several years later. In 1665 the French East India Company started a permanent settlement.
Indian Ocean Rodrigues 1691 Settled 1691 by a small group of French Huguenots led by François Leguat; abandoned 1693. The French settled slaves there in the 18th century. [118]
East Pacific Clipperton Island 1725 A short settlement in 1725. Intermittent settlement during the 19th and 20th centuries. [119]
East Pacific Juan Fernández Islands 1750 San Juan Bautista Settled by the Spanish to prevent its use by foreign powers and pirates. Destroyed in 1751 by a tsunami but soon rebuilt. [120]
South Atlantic Falkland Islands 1764 Puerto Soledad Settled by French (as "Port Saint Louis") during the expedition of Louis Antoine de Bougainville. [121]
Indian Ocean Seychelles 1770 Ste. Anne Island Although visited earlier by Maldivians, Malays and Arabs, the first known settlement was a spice plantation established by the French, first on Ste. Anne Island, then moved to Mahé. It is the sovereign state with the shortest history of human settlement (followed by Mauritius). [122]
East Pacific Floreana Island 1805 Black Beach First settled 1805–1809 by Patrick Watkins. Later attempts in 1837, 1893, 1925, and 1929. [123]
South Atlantic Tristan da Cunha 1810 First settled by Jonathan Lambert and two other men. Continuously inhabited since then except 1961–1963 evacuation due to volcano. [124]
South Atlantic Ascension Island 1815 Settled as a British military garrison. Some prior shipwrecked sailors in 18th century.
Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea Commander Islands 1825 Russians brought Aleuts from Atka Island and Attu Island to settle Bering Island and Medny Island. .[125][126]
Indian Ocean Cocos (Keeling) Islands c. 1826 Settled c. 1826 by Alexander Hare and in 1827 by John Clunies-Ross. [127]
Pacific Ocean Bonin Islands 1830 Port Lloyd, Chichi-jima Some evidence of early settlement from the Marianas, but the islands were abandoned except for occasional shipwrecks until a group of Europeans, Polynesians, and Micronesians settled Chichi-jima in 1830. [128]
Pacific Ocean, Tasman Sea Lord Howe Island 1834 Blinky Beach Whaling supply station. [107]
Indian Ocean Île Saint-Paul 1843 Although now uninhabited, there have been attempts at settlement. In June 1843, a French garrison was established under the command of Polish-born Captain Adam Mierolawski, but it was soon abandoned. In 1928, a spiny lobster cannery was established, with the last three settlers rescued in 1934. [129][130]
Arctic, Northern Europe Novaya Zemlya 1870 Malye Karmakuly Earlier overwinterings dating back to 16th century [131][132][133]
Indian Ocean Île Amsterdam 1871 Camp Heurtin Following various shipwrecks and visits by sealers and scientists in the 18th and 19th century, a short-lived settlement was made in 1871 by Heurtin, a French resident of Réunion Island. A French scientific base has been maintained since 1949. [134]
Pacific Ocean Minami-Tori-shima 1886 Despite visits dating back to the 17th century, the first permanent settlement was in 1886. [135]
Indian Ocean Christmas Island 1888 Flying Fish Cove First European settlement established by George Clunies-Ross and John Murray with phosphate mining begun around 10 years later. [136]
Pacific Ocean Campbell Island 1896 Sheep farming was undertaken from 1896 until the lease, along with the sheep and a small herd of cattle, was abandoned in 1931 because of the Great Depression. [137]
Pacific Ocean, Philippine Sea Daitō Islands 1900 Minamidaitōjima Tamaki Hanemon [ja] obtained the approval to develop two of islands from Empire of Japan
Antarctic South Orkney Islands 1903 Orcadas Base Visited by sealers and whalers in the 19th century. Scientific base founded by Scottish National Antarctic Expedition and sold to Argentina in 1904.
South Atlantic South Georgia 1904 Grytviken Visited by sealers in the 19th century. Carl Anton Larsen founded a permanent whaling station in 1904.
Arctic, Northern Europe Jan Mayen 1921 Eggøya Visited by whalers in the 17th century, with some overwinter sojourns in 1633, 1882, and 1907. Weather station at Eggøya established 1921, followed by other weather and military stations. The current station, Olonkinbyen, has been continuously inhabited since 1958. [138]
Indian Ocean Kerguelen Islands 1927 Port-Couvreux After occasional sojourns and shipwrecks in the 19th century, three families settled in a sheep-farming colony but were evacuated in 1934. Scientific station at Port-aux-Français has been continuously inhabited since 1950.
Arctic, New Siberian Islands Kotelny Island 1933 Soviet Naval Base. [139]
Antarctic South Shetland Islands 1947 Captain Arturo Prat Base Visited by sealers and explorers in the 19th century. Chilean naval base staffed continuously 1947–2004.
Indian Ocean Prince Edward Islands 1947 Transvaal Cove Visited by sealers and shipwrecks in the 19th century. South Africa occupied the islands in 1947 and established a meteorological station. [140]
Antarctica 1948 Base General Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme, Antarctic Peninsula First permanent base in continental Antarctica, operated by the Chilean Army.
Pacific Ocean Macquarie Island 1948 Macquarie Island Station Occasional sojourns and shipwrecks in the 19th century, continuously inhabited since 1948.
East Pacific Revillagigedo Islands 1957 Socorro Island Mexican naval base established. Shorter stays in 19th and early 20th centuries [141]
Indian Ocean Crozet Islands 1963 Alfred Faure Occasional shipwrecks and visiting sealers and whalers in the 19th century, continuously inhabited since 1963.
Arctic, Siberia Severnaya Zemlya 1974 Cape Baranov A meteorological station was operated from 1974 to 1988. "Prima" Polar Station opened at some point in the 1980s. [142][143]
North Atlantic / British Isles Rockall 1985 Former SAS member Tom McClean lived on the island from 26 May 1985 to 4 July 1985 to affirm the UK's claim to the islet. Other short stays have been made, including one by Greenpeace and a 60-day fundraising effort for Help for Heroes [144][145]

See alsoEdit


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