The Island is the principal location for the events of Lost. The Island is often treated as if it is a character, with its own desires and designs. The Island displays unusual "powers" that can apparently function beyond its geographical territory, into the outside world. The Island is notoriously difficult to find and can move by an unknown method. The Island appears to have been in the South Pacific for at least a portion of its history, but due to it being moved, its current location is unknown.
The Island appears to have no fixed location, as it is always moving. The present location of the Island is unknown.
The DHARMA Initiative found the Island via the Lamp Post, a station they occupied beneath a church in Los Angeles. The Lamp Post was constructed over a "unique pocket of electromagnetic energy" that connects to similar pockets all over the world, one of which is associated with the Island. Figuring that the Island was always moving, the DHARMA Initiative built a pendulum and created a series of equations to accurately predict where the Island would be. Eloise Hawking explained that the Island is accessible through "windows" that open at different locations for limited periods of time. She found a particular "window" for the Oceanic Six to get back to the Island, and had them take Ajira Flight 316 to access it. ("316")
The pilot of Oceanic Flight 815 said the plane had lost radio contact before the crash and had changed course towards Fiji. He estimated they were 1000 miles off course by the time they crashed. ("Pilot, Part 1") Desmond believed the Island was one week east of Fiji, traveling at nine knots. ("Live Together, Die Alone") This fits with Rousseau's statement that she was three days out of Tahiti when she wrecked on the Island. ("Solitary")
The Oceanic Six were rescued by Penelope's boat Searcher, from which they sailed to the Island of Sumba to stage their reappearance to the world. ("There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3") This places the Island's original location, at least within the established timeline of the show, within the South Pacific.
Individuals trying to find the Island, such as the team aboard the Kahana, found it difficult to find the Island, even with a set of coordinates. While Naomi Dorrit did manage to find the Island in her helicopter, it took a satellite phone's GPS system for the freighter team to lock on to the Island's position. Moreover, it is known that the DHARMA Initiative had to use a sonar beacon to guide submarines to the Island. Other issues surrounding the Island's location include how a small plane which launched from Nigeria could have traveled all the way to the Pacific Ocean before it crashed (assuming that is indeed where the Island is).
Ben turned the frozen wheel located in a secret chamber underneath the Orchid station, which caused the Island to move. Soon after the wheel was turned, a loud noise and bright lights (similar to the "discharge") were experienced throughout the local area, both on and off the Island. This disturbance happened immediately before the Island disappeared from the ocean. The Island, along with its smaller companion island, vanished from the space they occupied, leaving a vacuum in the ocean that was quickly filled in by seawater. ("There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3")
After the Island was moved by Ben, the survivors, Juliet, and the science team began skipping through time on the Island. Each time this happened, the Island was engulfed by white light and the survivors found themselves in a new time: past or future. ("Because You Left") The time flashes ended after John Locke realigned the frozen wheel onto its axis, at the direction of Christian Shephard. This set the time-travelers in the 1970s. ("This Place Is Death") ("LaFleur")
Little is known of the early history of the Island. There are the remains of a four-toed statue, a Temple, a well leading to a secret cavern, along with other ruins. ("Live Together, Die Alone") ("Stranger in a Strange Land") ("There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3") These all suggest that a significant culture was present on the Island at some undetermined point in the past.
Hieroglyphs are engraved in several places around the Island, such as the frozen wheel room, the Temple and Ben's secret door under his home at the barracks. ("The Shape of Things to Come") ("There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3") ("This Place Is Death")
The first known visitors to the Island are the sailors of the Black Rock. They arrived on the Island between 1845, when she left Portsmouth, England, and 1852, when her ledger was found among the artifacts of pirates. ("The Constant") The crew consisted of Magnus Hanso, 40 crew-members, and an unknown number of chained individuals, possibly slaves or convicts. The blast door map says that the remains of the ship's owner, Magnus Hanso, are somewhere on the Island.
The remains of two people known as Adam and Eve were found in a cave. Jack's time-of-death estimate placed them at some point in the 1950s or 1960s; however, the producers have hinted that the presence of Adam and Eve is related to the time-traveling aspect of the show. Finally, it was stated by Juliet that Richard Alpert has "always been here" on the Island. The exact truth of this statement has yet to be determined. ("Jughead")
The Island was one of several in the South Pacific designated for nuclear tests by the United States Army in the 1950s. However, the initial scouting party of eighteen soldiers of an Army battalion, was isolated and eventually killed by the Hostiles under Richard Alpert. Before this defeat, the scouting party did manage to transport a hydrogen bomb, named "Jughead," to the Island. Per Daniel Faraday's instructions, the bomb should have been encased in concrete and buried somewhere on the Island to keep it from detonating. ("Jughead") But nevertheless, the Others stored it unsealed in a subterranean chamber, connected with a tunnel system. ("Follow the Leader")
A large new period of human activity began in the early 1970s under the leadership of the DHARMA Initiative, who found the Island via their Lamp Post station in Los Angeles. The DHARMA Initiative had gathered proof of the Island's existence and, assuming correctly that the Island was always moving, used the Lamp Post to accurately predict where the Island would be.
Construction projects occurred across the Island, including a series of isolated science stations. They also built a community-style living facility known as the Barracks. Tunnels were dug, along with a limited number of road projects. The Island was also equipped with a communications network.
During this time, Charles Widmore was leading the Others. Benjamin Linus, a former DHARMA member, aided them in what would become known as the Purge, which resulted in the deaths of nearly all members of the DHARMA Initiative. Later, Charles was banished from the Island for poor conduct and Ben became the leader of the Others.
Among the Island's vegetation are Banyan trees and fruit-bearing mango, papaya, and guava plants. There are also bananas, passion fruit, coconuts and some star fruit. ("Hearts and Minds")
Native animals encountered by the survivors include wild chicken, bees, tree frogs, and spiders. From the sea, various types of fish, shellfish, and sea urchin have been found. The Island is also in the path of tagged migratory seagulls. The Island has a number of animal species not native to the South Seas, including boars, Mikhail's cat Nadia, and a domesticated dove. The Others also kept cattle at the Flame, and at least two horses have been seen: one ridden by Bea Klugh, and a mysterious black horse seen by Kate and Sawyer.
The DHARMA Initiative brought certain non-native animals, such as polar bears, sharks, rabbits, and dolphins, to Hydra Island and modified them to an unknown degree. During the Purge, the polar bears escaped and made their way to the main island and beyond. ("Confirmed Dead")
The size of the Island has not yet been determined. Its diameter has been shown to be a several-days' walk, as demonstrated by the Tailies traveling to join the midsection survivors, by Kate and Sawyer's return from the Hydra Island, and by Kate, Locke, Sayid and Rousseau's journey to The Flame and then to the Barracks. ("The Other 48 Days") ("I Do") With the revelation of Hydra Island, it is likely that none of the survivors have entirely circumnavigated the Island. According to the scale of Danielle Rousseau's maps, it is 24.0 kilometers (14.91 miles) long along one side.
The Island has many different geographical zones. There is a very distinctive coastline comprised mostly of beach sand. Some of the beach is rocky and hard to navigate, such as the cove where Kelvin kept the Elizabeth ("Live Together, Die Alone"), and a rocky peninsula that the Tailies went around rather than over to save time ("Abandoned"). A cape was mentioned by Locke ("The Little Prince"). There also appears to be steep cliff faces that drop off into the sea, such as where Dave is seen jumping away from Hurley. ("Dave")
Jungle and forest seem to make up most of the interior of the Island. Although they run together, there are distinct differences between them: the forest appears to be more sparse, with smaller trees; while the jungle appears to be more dense, with more hanging vines over-head. Within the jungle area is also the dark territory, a dangerous area where the Monster seems to roam.
In the hills is a plateau called the Mesa where Hurley's golf course is located. Hurley rode the DHARMA van on the Mesa. ("Enter 77") The caves are also located near the Mesa. There is also a cliff next to some mountains that can be seen when Sayid, Charlie, and Ana Lucia were searching for Henry Gale's balloon. ("The Whole Truth"). Also, Jack was rescued by Locke from falling off a cliff. ("White Rabbit")
There are mountains throughout the Island, including at least one volcano in the South. There are two main ridges, both stretching from North to South. The valley between the mountain ridges contains rivers, streams, and waterfalls. Part of it is known as the North Valley. There is also a lake located next to the sonar fence.
Open fields are common on the Island, such as where Shannon translated the distress signal and where Hurley and Charlie drove the DHARMA van. ("Pilot, Part 2") ("Tricia Tanaka Is Dead") They seem to be mostly on hill-sides and on the Mesa. The Pascal Flats are shown on Ben's map. ("Through the Looking Glass"). Not much is known of this area other than it is south of the Barracks and the Pearl, and southwest of the radio tower.
There is at least one volcano on the Island. Olivia mentions to her class how the Island had volcanic reactions occurring "a long time ago", suggesting it was dormant or extinct. ("The Man Behind the Curtain") Furthermore, the word "crater" is seen on Rousseau's map.
There are several clues to the Island being volcanic. The general topography of the Island is typical of a volcanic island, such as the apparent lava-formed coastlines. The powdery substance surrounding Jacob's cabin also looked similar to volcanic ash. The sign Bernard was making in "S.O.S." consisted of volcanic rocks. Moreover, The Barracks appear to sit in a crater-like formation, possibly a caldera or volcanic crater. ("A Tale of Two Cities") Locke and Charlie also discovered a lava tube being used as a den by one or more polar bears. Finally, Jack and Sayid surmised that the Swan's power source was geothermal. While volcanic activity is not required for geothermal power, it makes the process much easier. Overall, the Island's presumed location in the South Pacific seems to correspond with the notion of it being volcanic, as it is an area falling along the "Ring of Fire," so named because of a high frequency of seismic and volcanic occurrences.
On the DVD commentary track for "The Man Behind the Curtain", Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse point out an Easter egg when Olivia demonstrates the volcano model in her classroom. The producers stated that the volcano on the Island will be "less important than Annie, but still seismic"
Aside from the unusual history, population, and locations, the Island also exhibits some unusual properties of its own.
The Island, or some unknown force or thing on the Island, appears to have healing powers that cure at least some inhabitants of long-term ailments, expedite recovery from mild to moderate wounds, and extend lifespans. Some of the more dramatic examples of this healing power are Locke's healed legs, Rose's cured cancer, Jin's heightened sperm count, and Richard Alpert's unusual appearance given his assumed age. ("Walkabout") ("S.O.S.") ("Cabin Fever")
Various anomalous phenomena exist around the Island that complicate the ability to navigate around and away from the Island. The DHARMA Initiative placed a sonar beacon just off the coast of the Island, which was used to guide submarines.
Locating and traveling to the Island is difficult due to an unknown phenomenon that apparently causes travelers to experience a time dilation. This has been demonstrated by Daniel's experiment, the Helicopter's lost time, and the events surrounding Ray's death. Possibly this distortion is variable in nature as no such distortion appeared to take place on Sayid's journey to the Island via the Zodiac. ("The Economist") ("The Constant") ("Cabin Fever")
When traveling to the Island, one must stay on a particular compass bearing, lest they travel in circles and/or experience unsettling effects. Desmond's attempt to leave the Island by sailing due West was futile, as he ended up sailing in circles and back to the Island. Upon learning of the survivors' possession of a sailboat, Juliet showed knowledge of the difficulty of leaving, commenting that "sailing in circles will keep them busy".
Following instructions from Ben to follow a bearing of 325 from the Pala Ferry pier, Michael and Walt successfully left the Island. ("Live Together, Die Alone") ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 1") Daniel Faraday recognized the importance of following a single bearing to leave the Island, giving strict instructions to Frank Lapidus not to deviate from a heading of 305 degrees or risk "side effects", ("The Economist") ("The Constant") Sayid and Desmond knew to follow Daniel's instruction when returning to the Island from the Kahana. ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 1") ("There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3")
It is theorized by Captain Gault that the Kahana's proximity to the unusual time differential effect around the Island was causing irrational behavior, including suicide, on the part of his crew. He likened this effect to a heightened case of "cabin fever". ("Ji Yeon") ("Cabin Fever")
The unusual behavior of ocean currents and tides may play a role in navigational difficulties. Michael and Sawyer were carried back to the Island on pieces of the raft after it was destroyed by the Others. ("Adrift") The tides rose dramatically on the beach in October of 2004, and seem to have remained at the higher level ever since.
The Monster is a mysterious entity on the Island, appearing as a cloud of black smoke. It appears to be highly active in the Dark Territory area of the Island. The Monster seems incredibly temperamental, at times being passive and even retreating when encountering survivors such as Eko at first. However, it can also show extreme aggression, such as turning up trees, killing humans, and dragging them away underground. The Monster makes a number of strange sounds, such as ticking noises, and often sounds mechanical. In an episode of audio commentary, Damon Lindelof said that one of Rose's lines had been cut, where (in the first time the survivors heard the monster) Rose was supposed to say "That sound is so familiar," Rose is from The Bronx, and Damon Lindelof went to New York to find a sound that would often be heard in New York, the sound he chose was a Taxi Receipt Printer, and that is the sound he gave the monster.
A number of the survivors report seeing strange apparitions of people or things from their past on the Island. For example, Kate saw a horse which appeared to be one which was almost run over by a car years earlier, while both Shannon and Locke have seen Walt in the jungle despite him being elsewhere. Characters have also seen apparitions of the deceased, such as Jack seeing his dead father on a number of occasions. Furthermore, these deceased characters also seem to be able to interact with the environment, such as Eko's brother Yemi who gave him a cross necklace. In this instance, the apparition of Yemi also stated to Eko that he was not really his brother.
There are powerful pockets of energy in certain spots on the Island. One of these energy pockets lies at the Orchid station. The power of this energy is responsible for the death of at least one DHARMA member. ("The Variable") The DHARMA Initiative harnessed this energy and used to to experiment with time travel. (Orchid Orientation video) This energy lies at the site of the frozen wheel chamber, where Ben turned the wheel. ("There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3")
The pocket of energy at the Swan station is nearly 30,000 times greater than the energy at the Orchid. ("The Variable") When the DHARMA Initiative drilled into this energy, the result was catastrophic, and was the cause of the Incident. Because of this Incident, DHARMA had to concrete the area in, and developed a protocol where a button had to be pushed every 108 minutes in order to discharge the energy and keep it at bay. (Swan Orientation film)
Over time, a number of people have crashed or been shipwrecked on the Island.
The known crashes (in chronological order) are:
The various survivors on the Island have created locations in order to continue living while stranded on the seemingly deserted Island.
Some of the survivors' locations:
The DHARMA Initiative built a series of science facilities, referred to as "stations", across the Island. Most of these stations have been destroyed, abandoned, ceased functioning, or are in a general state of disrepair.
The known stations are:
Other DHARMA Initiative locations:
There are other location on the Island that were created by someone, possibly the DHARMA Initiative, but whose exact origin is unknown. A number of these have been occupied and used by the Others, similar to the stations.
Some locations used by the Others are:
A few locations on the Island are still deeply shrouded in mystery. These locations were made by unknown previous inhabitants of the Island, most likely before the DHARMA Initiative's time. These locations have not been explained, but only briefly mentioned or shown:
Some notable historic locations are:
Many characters can call the island their birthplace or even home, because they were born there. These characters include (in chronological order);
Ben claimed twice that he was born on the island ("The Glass Ballerina") ("The Man Behind the Curtain") but in fact he arrived a child in 1973 ("The Man Behind the Curtain"). Perhaps Ben spoke metaphorically, indicated that his life, for him, personally began when he first visited the island, since it's probably the only home he has known.
Some examples of this personification are:
The only official name given by the writers to the Island so far is "The Eyeland". This is also the name of a song on the official soundtrack.
The survivors have various different nicknames for the Island and some of its geographical features: