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As an example, the British government has spent 18 million pounds over six years to support the Pitcairn Island settlement. Likewise the US spends tens of millions of dollars to support rural settlements in Alaska and Russia spends enormous amounts of money on keeping up the Kamchatka Krai.

The struggling rural regions obviously lack a considerable number of voters, so I can't imagine them having a significant lobby in the government. So what's the point of spending so much money on them? Couldn't the government simply relocate people to the mainland and convert the region into a natural park?

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    Forced relocation? Maybe in Russia, but Alaskans shoot back. One could also argue that Alaska as a whole supports the lower 48 via oil & other minerals. – jamesqf May 28 '17 at 19:04
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    @jamesqf you either move or stay where you are without any government help. I presume most people would choose the first option. – JonathanReez May 28 '17 at 19:35
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    You don't know much about Alaskans, then. (Or indeed, about rural Americans in general.) A good many of them moved to those rural areas precisely to get away from government "help". And from that article, it seems that a lot of the money spent goes towards means of controlling the people. As for choosing to move... Well, I've lived in a few cities from time to time, but the only reason I did so was in order to make money enough so that I wouldn't have to live in a city for the rest of my life. – jamesqf May 29 '17 at 7:08
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    @jamesqf would rural Alaskans be able to support their current lifestyle if the government completely abandoned their region though? Rural Alaska is not the same as rural Texas in terms of survivability – JonathanReez May 29 '17 at 7:27
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    No, it's much better than most of rural Texas, IMHO anyway :-) You don't have to worry about water, for one thing. – jamesqf May 29 '17 at 18:05
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There is more than one reason to give economic aid to a particular area. This answer will focus on the Pitcairn Islands but it's applicable to every other example you've used.

The Pitcairn Islands are a British Overseas Territory, which as the CIA world fact-book rather succinctly puts it means that it is one of the last vestiges of the British empire in the pacific. Now the population of the Pitcairn Islands is only about 50 people, so as you rightly put it they have a negligible direct voter impact, but what they do have is indirect voter impact. Most people in Britain are proud of the empire, this may seem silly to someone thinking from an extremely logical point of view, but abandoning the Pitcairn Islands would be similar to saying that Britain is no longer a country able to support it's empire, thus with a mixture of Pride and Fear the government has supported and will continue to support the existence of life on the island, as British voters support the existence of the empire.

Another point is strategic, imagine for a moment that Britain hypothetically declare war on Australia. Now imagine instead of British soldiers after bombing Australia, they develop some engine troubles and are unable to fly the 16,000 odd kilometers back to Britain they can fly the much shorter route and rest in a British Island which has access to water, electricity and the internet. Although there may be no military base there right now, spending millions of pounds to build such infrastructure means it will be easier to commission such a base in future if need be.

My last point is economic, one point that literally everyone overlooks is that is Britain owns the Island it also owns the water around the Island, and all the resources under the water. Here is a map that shows the global distribution of territorial waters. So if 10 years down the line the worlds biggest crude oil deposits are discovered in the pacific, Britain has according to the UN law of the sea, a lot of claim on the natural resources. This is also one of the reasons why Britain so voraciously defends it's claim on the Falkland Islands. So no the island doesn't have negligible economic significance.

Also who would go to a national park on an uninhabited island in the pacific? Even hosting a park requires some population who will then need basic resources likes schools, clinics, ferry's etc. which is exactly what Britain is paying for.

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  • The Pitcairn Islands kind of make sense. But what about rural Alaska? – JonathanReez May 28 '17 at 17:14
  • @JonathanReez the tens of millions of dollars going to rural alaska, are if you read your article carefully going to improve airstrips and airports. Alaska is rather close to Americas no.1 enemy Russia. Spending money to improve airports there makes sense. – SleepingGod May 28 '17 at 17:16
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    also xkcd says the crown needs those particular islands to avoid sunset. – user9389 May 28 '17 at 17:43

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