List of first human settlements

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

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

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 permanent presence outside of Africa was established only after about 70,000 years ago.

Middle Paleolithic[edit]

Before Homo sapiens, Homo erectus had already spread throughout Africa and non-Arctic Eurasia by about one million years ago (see Out of Africa I). The oldest known evidence for anatomically modern humans (as of 2017) are fossils found at Jebel Irhoud, Morocco, dated about 300,000 years old.[2]

Region Country Date (kya) Place Notes Ref(s)
North Africa Morocco 318–254 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). [3]
West Asia 316–219 Neanderthal admixture Genetic evidence for early Homo sapiens admixture to Neanderthals in West Asia, discovered in 2017. [4]
East Africa Ethiopia 200–190 Omo Kibish Formation The Omo remains found in 1967 near the Ethiopian Kibish Mountains, dated stratigraphically to 195 ± 5 ka. [5]
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]
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 form population genetics suggests separation before 110 ka,[9] most likely between 130 and 200 ka.[10]

East Africa Sudan 160–140 Singa Anatomically modern human discovered 1924 with rare temporal bone pathology [13][14]
West Asia, Arabia United Arab Emirates 125 Jebel Faya Stone tools made by anatomically modern humans (discovered 2011). [15]
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 75-125,000 years ago. According to archaeologist Jeffrey I. Rose, human settlements spread east from Africa across the Arabian Peninsula. [16]
Central Africa Democratic Republic of the Congo 90 Katanda, Upper Semliki River Semliki harpoon heads carved from bone. [17]
East Asia China, PRC 80 Fuyan Cave Teeth were found under rock over which 80,000 years old stalagmites had grown. [18]
North Africa Libya 80–65 Haua Fteah Fragments of 2 mandibles discovered in 1953 [19]
South Asia India 70 population genetics

Genetic evidence siggests first settlement between 66,000 and 70,000 years ago. Available fossil evidence from Sri Lanka has been dated to 34,000 years ago.

Southeast Asia Sumatra, Indonesia 73–63 Lida Ajer cave Teeth found in Sumatra in the 19th century [22]
Southeast Asia Luzon, Philippines 67 Callao Cave Archaeologists, Dr. Armand Mijares with Dr. Phil Piper found bones in a cave near Peñablanca, Cagayan in 2010 have been dated as ca. 67,000 years old. It's the earliest human fossil ever found in Asia-Pacific [23]
North Africa Egypt 50–80 Taramasa Hill Skeleton of 8- to 10-year-old child discovered in 1994 [24]
Australia Far West, Australia 65 Madjedbebe The oldest human skeletal remains are the 40,000-year-old Lake Mungo remains in New South Wales, but human ornaments discovered at Devil's Lair in Western Australia have been dated to 48,000 BP and artifacts at Madjedbebe in Northern Territory are dated to ca. 65,000 BP. [25][26][27]

Upper Paleolithic[edit]

Region Country / island Date Place Notes Ref(s)
South America Northeast Region, Brazil 56,000–41,000 BP? Pedra Furada Hypothetical Pleistocene peopling of the Americas: charcoal from the oldest layers yielded dates of 41,000-56,000 BP. [28]
East Asia Honshu, Japan 47,000 BP 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. [20][29]
Southeast Asia, Indochina Laos 46,000 BP 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 [30]
Europe 44,000 BP The earliest known remains of Cro-Magnon-like humans are radiocarbon dated to 43,000–45,000 BP, found in Italy and Great Britain. [31][32]
Europe Italy 45,000–44,000 BP Grotta del Cavallo, Apulia Two baby teeth discovered in Apulia in 1964 are the earliest modern human remains yet found in Europe. [33]
Europe Great Britain, United Kingdom 44,200–41,500 BP Kents Cavern Human jaw fragment found in Torquay, Devon in 1927 [34]
Europe Germany 43,000–42,000 BP 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. [35]
Europe, Baltic Lithuania 43,000–41,000 BP 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. [36]
Southeast Asia East Timor 42,000 BP Jerimalai cave Fish bones [37]
Australia Tasmania 41,000 BP 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. [38]
Southeast Asia Borneo, Malaysia 46,000–34,000 BP? 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.) [39][40]
Southeast Asia New Guinea 40,000 BP 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. [20]
Europe Romania 42,000–37,800 BP Peștera cu Oase Bones dated as 38–42,000 years old are among the oldest human remains found in Europe. [41][42]
East Asia Hong Kong, PRC 39,000 BP Wong Tei Tung Optically stimulated luminescence results from the site suggest a date ca. 39,000 BP. [43]
Europe Russia 40,000-35,000 BP? Mamontovaya Kurya Earliest evidence of human (not necessarily anatomically modern humans) presence at Arctic latitudes. [44]
Central Asia, Tibetan Plateau Tibet, PRC 38,000 BP 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. [45][46][47]
South Asia Sri Lanka 34,000 BP 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. [48]
North America Canada 40,000–25,000 BP? Bluefish Caves Hypothetical Pleistocene peopling of the Americas: Human-worked mammoth bone flakes found at Bluefish Caves, Yukon. [49][50]
East Asia Okinawa 32,000 BP Yamashita-cho cave, Naha city Bone artifacts and an ash seam dated to 32,000±1000 BP. [51]
Europe France 32,000 BP 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. [52]
Europe Czech Republic 31,000 BP Mladeč caves Oldest human bones that clearly represent a human settlement in Europe. [53]
Europe Poland 30,000 BP Obłazowa Cave A boomerang made from mammoth tusk
Southeast Asia Buka Island, New Guinea 28,000 BP Kilu Cave Flaked stone, bone, and shell artifacts [54]
East Asia Taiwan, Republic of China 30,000–20,000 BP In 1972, fragmentary fossils of anatomically modern humans were found at Chouqu and Gangzilin, in Zuozhen 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. [55][56]
Europe Portugal 24,500 BP Abrigo do Lagar Velho Possible Neanderthal/Cro-Magnon hybrid, the Lapedo child [57]
Europe Sicily 20,000 BP San Teodoro cave Human cranium dated by gamma-ray spectrometry [58]
North America United States 16,000 BP Meadowcroft Rockshelter Stone, bone, and wood artifacts and animal and plant remains found in Washington County, Pennsylvania. (Earlier claims have been made, but not corroborated, for sites such as Topper, South Carolina.)[59] [60]
South America Chile 18,500-14,800 BP Monte Verde Carbon dating of remains from this site represent the oldest known settlement in South America. [61][62]
South America Peru 14,000 BP Pikimachay Stone and bone artifacts found in a cave of the Ayacucho complex [63]
North America Santa Rosa Island 13,000 BP 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 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 BC [64]
Europe Cyprus 12,500 BP Aetokremnos Burned bones of megafauna [65]
South America Colombia 12,500 BP El Abra Stone, bone and charcoal artifacts
North America Triquet Island 12,000 BP British Columbia [66][67]
Europe, Scandinavia Norway 11,000 BP Aukra The oldest remnants of the so-called Fosna culture were found in Aukra in Møre og Romsdal. [68]
South America Argentina 11,000 BP Piedra Museo Spear heads and human fossils [69]
Europe 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. [70]
West Africa Bioko, Equatorial Guinea 10,000 BP Early Bantu migration [71]
Southeast Asia, Indochina Cambodia 9,000 BP Laang Spean Laang Spean cave in the Stung Sangker River valley, Battambang Province [72]
Arctic, New Siberian Islands Zhokhov Island 8,300 BP Hunting tools and animal remains in the High Arctic [73][74]
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, see Tuvalu#Pre-history [75]
Mediterranean Malta 7,250 BP Għar Dalam Settlers from Sicily brought agriculture and impressed ware pottery. [76]
Caribbean Trinidad 7,000 BP Banwari Trace Stone and bone artifacts mark the oldest archaeological site in the Caribbean. [77]
Caribbean Puerto Rico 6,000 BP Angostura site Carbon dating of burial site [78]
Arctic Greenland 4,000 BP Saqqaq Saqqaq culture was the first of several waves of settlement from northern Canada and from Scandinavia. [79]
Arctic Baffin Island, Canada 4,000 BP Pond Inlet In 1969, Pre-Dorset remains were discovered, with seal bones radiocarbon dated to 2035 BC [80]
Central Asia Xinjiang, PRC 3,800 BP? Tarim Basin Tarim mummies [81]
Pacific Mariana Islands 3,500 BP? Artifacts similar to those from nowadays Philippines have been discovered [82]
Arctic Wrangel Island 3,400 BP Chertov Ovrag Sea-mammal hunting tools [83]
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. [84]
Pacific Fiji 3,000 BP Bourewa Radiocarbon dating of a shell midden at Bourewa on Viti Levu Island shows earliest inhabitation at 1220-970 BC. [85]
North Africa Canary Islands 3,000 BP Genetic studies show relation to Moroccan Berbers, but precise date uncertain. [86]
Pacific Vanuatu 3,000 BP Teouma etc. Lapita pottery found at Teouma cemetery on Efate and on several other islands. [87]
Pacific Samoa 3,000 BP Mulifanua Lapita site found at Mulifanua Ferry Berth Site by New Zealand scientists in the 1970s. [88]
Pacific Hawaii 1,700 BP Ka Lae Early settlement from the Marquesas Islands [89]
Pacific Line Islands 1600 BP? When Polynesian traders travelling to and from Hawaii [90]
East Africa, Indian Ocean Madagascar 1,500 BP The population of Madagascar seems to have derived in equal measures from Borneo and East Africa. [91]
East Africa, Indian Ocean Comoros 1,450 BP [citation needed]
Europe, North Atlantic Faroe Islands 1,500 BP Agricultural remains from three locations were analysed and dated to as early as the sixth century A.D. [92]
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 AD. [93]
Pacific Huahine, French Polynesia 1,140 BP Fa'ahia Bird bones dated to 1140±90 BP [94]
Europe, North Atlantic Iceland AD 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. [95]
Pacific Raiatea, French Polynesia 1000 BP Taputapuatea marae Stone religious structures established by 1000 AD. [citation needed]
Pacific Pitcairn Island 900 BP Settled by Polynesians in the 11th century, later abandoned. Resettled by British and Polynesians 1790.
Pacific Easter Island 1,200-800 BP Anakena Settled by voyagers from the Marquesas Islands, possibly as early as 300 AD. [96]
Pacific New Zealand 700 BP Wairau Bar Though some researchers suggest settlements as early as 50–150 AD, that later became extinct, it is generally accepted that the islands were permanently settled by Eastern Polynesians (the ancestors of the Māori) who arrived about 1250–1300 AD. [97][98]
Pacific Norfolk Island 700 BP Emily Bay Settled by Polynesians, later abandoned. Resettled by British 1788. [99][100]
Pacific Auckland Islands 700 BP Sandy Bay, Enderby Island Settled by Polynesians, later abandoned. Resettled from the Chatham Islands in 1842, later abandoned. [100]
Pacific Kermadec Islands 600 BP Settled by Polynesians, later abandoned. Resettled by Europeans in 1810, later abandoned.
Atlantic Madeira AD 1420 / 530 BP Settlers from Portugal.
Atlantic Azores AD 1439 / 511 BP Santa Maria Island Settlers from Portugal led by Gonçalo Velho Cabral. [101]
Atlantic Cape Verde AD 1462 / 488 BP Cidade Velha Settlers from Portugal.
West Africa, Atlantic São Tomé and Príncipe AD 1485 / 465 BP São Tomé Portuguese settlement in 1485 failed but was followed in 1493 by a successful settlement led by Álvaro Caminha. [102]


Sea / region Island Date Place Notes Ref(s)
South Atlantic Saint Helena 1516 Settled by Fernão Lopes (soldier). Later populated by escaped slaves from Mozambique and Java, then by English in 1659. [103]
Atlantic, Gulf of Guinea Annobón 1543 Alvaro da Cunha requested Portuguese royal charter in 1543 and by 1559 had settled Africans slaves there. [104]
Pacific, New Zealand Chatham Islands 1550 Moriori settlers from New Zealand. This was the last wave of Polynesian migrations. [105]
Atlantic Bermuda 1609 Settled by English survivors of the Sea Venture shipwreck, led by George Somers.
Arctic Svalbard 1619 Smeerenburg Settled by Dutch and Danish whalers 1619-1657. Longyearbyen founded 1906 and continuously inhabited except for World War II. [106]
Indian Ocean Mauritius 1638 Vieux Grand Port First settled by Dutch under Cornelius Gooyer. [107]
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. [108]
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. [109]
South Atlantic Falkland Islands 1764 Puerto Soledad Settled by French during the expedition of Louis Antoine de Bougainville. [110]
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. [111]
Pacific Floreana Island 1805 Black Beach First settled 1805-1809 by Patrick Watkins. Later attempts in 1837, 1893, 1925, and 1929. [112]
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. [113]
Indian Ocean Cocos (Keeling) Islands c. 1814 [114]
South Atlantic Ascension Island 1815 Settled as a British military garrison.
Bering Sea Commander Islands 1825 Russians brought Aleuts from Atka Island and Attu Island to settle Bering Island and Medny Island. .[115][116]
Pacific 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. [117]
Tasman Sea Lord Howe Island 1834 Blinky Beach Whaling supply station. It has been the last land to be colonized and continuously inhabited by permanent residents. [100]
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 two or three settlers rescued in 1934. [118][119]
Arctic Novaya Zemlya 1870 Malye Karmakuly [120][121][122]
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. [123]
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. [124]
Pacific 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.
South China Sea Pratas Islands 1907 guano collecting station by Japanese businessman [125]
Arctic 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. [126]
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 1933 Kotelny Island Soviet Naval Base. [127]
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. [128]
Antarctica 1948 Base General Bernardo O'Higgins Riquelme First permanent base in mainland Antarctica, operated by the Chilean Army.
Pacific Macquarie Island 1948 Macquarie Island Station Occasional sojourns and shipwrecks in the 19th century, continuously inhabited since 1948.
Indian Ocean Crozet Islands 1963 Alfred Faure Occasional shipwrecks and visiting sealers and whalers in the 19th century, continuously inhabited since 1963.
Arctic Severnaya Zemlya 1974 Cape Baranov A meteorological station was operated from 1974 to 1988. "Prima" Polar Station opened at some point in the 1980s. [129][130]

See also[edit]


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