In the Pacific Ocean just off the coast of Chile sits a group of islands that is more famous then any of the other little islands nearby. Juan Fernández Islands is currently under control of the country of Chile and along with its neighbor Easter Island, 2500 km northeast, is part of the Region of Valparaiso.

In 1574, the first documented human set foot on Más a Tierra, known today as Robinson Crusoe island and dedicated the three major islands, Más Afuera, known today as Alejandro Selkrik island, and Santa Clara, to Spain. Juan Fernández, was a sailor for his homeland and according to the crown's wishes, the islands were settled by Fernández along with 60 Indians, goats and chickens that he brought on a return trip.

Fernández started to kill off the fur seals for oil to sell in Perú. However, on one of his trips, the ship sunk along with all the captial he had. While Fernández was trying to recover, he learned that Spain was not intrested in keeping up a settlement. So the islands fell into disrepair and became a haven for pirates.

Over the years, a large group of sailors stopped by at the islands but nothing is remembered as much as what happened in 1704. That year, Alexander Selkirk decided to abandon ship, the Cinque Ports and stay at Más a Tierra Island. He lived for four years on this island before being rescued by Captain Woodes Rogers. It was many years later that Daniel Defoe heard the story and turned it into the book Robinson Crusoe.

Over the years of the Eighteenth Century, there were many attempts by England and France to capture these islands. In response, Spain placed many of its criminals into the largest caves on the islands. In 1818, the brand new Chilean Navy overtook these islands.

In 1915, the German battleship Dresden battled two English ships, the HMS Glasgow and HMS Kent. Dresden realizing it could not win, opened up the floodgates and let the ship sink. All of the crew were rescued and captured.

Currently the islands are still under the control of Chile, however the native people, those of Polynesian origin are trying to be grannted a special status, which would include these islands. Another current issue is that Chile claims 350 miles as an Economic Exclusive Zone, however the United Nations only recognizes 200 miles.


Information for this node was taken from http://www.geocities.com/TheTropics/Island/1698/, http://www.chile-outdoors.cl/clsp/park/nac_juanfernandez.shtml, and http://www.mnhn.cl/apuntes/picaflor.htm

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