Overview Franz Josef Land, map
General, landscape: Situated in the north of the archipelago, Karl-Alexander Island has an area of 329 km², maximal extension 29 km, highest elevation 265 m. Except of a few capes and plateau edges, the island is almost completely glaciated, including the Samoilovich Ice Cap, which covers the southeast.
Right off the northeast coast, there are some small skerries: Torup Island, Houen Island, Coburg Island.
Biology, wildlife: Vegetation on the few ice-free areas is minimal. Only under some birdcliffs, there are limited zone of higher plant productivity. Larger seabird colonies are found in some steep slopes and cliffs, especially at Cape Felden and Cape Böhm, and in the outermost westsouthwest corner, with mainly Alle alle, Uria lomvi, Rissa tridactyla, Fulmarus glacialis and Cepphus grylle. Also on the small and low, rocky Torup island, there is a lot of Alle alle, and also some Cepphus grylle and Larus hyperboreus breeding in the short summers.
History: The island was discovered in spring 1874 by the TEGETTHOFF exploration sledge tour to the north, which camped also on one of the tiny Coburg isles just off the northeast coast of Karl-Alexander Island. The expedition saw only the east and north part of the island, naming also the eye-catching promontories Cape Böhm (see above, later deviating spellings: Cape Böhn, Cape Bohn, Mys Bema, Cape Bema) and Cape Felder.
The west of the island was mapped first time by the STELLA POLARE expedition of the Duke of Abruzzi, Luigi Amadeo di Savoia, in 1899/1900.
The island plays no special role in the history of the archipelago.
On their march back form the unsuccessful North Pole attempt, Nansen and Johansen first reached Eva-Liv Island in summer 1895, but it was on Houen Island, where they first sat foot on snowfree, normal ground after months in snow and ice. They then continued to neighbouring small Torup Island and then headed around Karl-Alexander Island on its north side, finally reaching their wintering site on Cape Norwegia.
A more detailed mapping especially of the west part of Karl-Alexander Land was done by the STELLA POLARE expedition of the Duke of the Abruzzes, Luigi Amadeo di Savoia, 1899/1900.
In the history of the archipelago, the island played no further important role.
Names: Karl Alexander Island is named after the sponsor and supporter of the expedition Großherzog (Grand Duke) Karl Alexander von Sachsen-Weimar-Eisenach.
Cape Felder: Baron Cajetan von Felder - austrian politician and scientist, mayor of Vienna.
Houen Island: Anton Christian Houen was a major sponsor of the FRAM expedition.
Torup Island: Sophus Torup - danish-norwegian scientist and consultant of Nansen.
Tourism: Normally, touristic expeditions do not land on Karl-Alexander Island, but sometimes pass along its northern shores on the way to Rudolf Island.
By end of June 2007, Børge Ousland and Thomas Ulrich touched both Houen and Torup Island on their 1300 km tour from the North Pole to Cape Flora, following the route of Nansen and Johansen in 1895.