ROBINSON CRUSOE ISLAND
Robinson Crusoe Island is located 600 kilometres off the coast of Chile. The island is a rugged volcanic speck where 70 percent of its plant species are endemic, and is the largest of the Juan Fernandez Islands, a small archipelago that since 1935 is a Chilean National Park which in 1977 was declared a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. This island has witnessed and played an important role in Chilean and world history.
In 1704 the Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk was marooned on the island and stayed for more than 4 years, eventually inspiring Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe –hence the name of the island. 1750 the village of San Juan Bautista was founded at Cumberland Bay and by 1779 there were already 7 small fortresses bristling with guns. The island’s isolation offered Spain a splendid place for setting up a penal colony, to which high-ranking Chilean patriots were deported in the early 19th century. In 1915, during the First World War, three British ships and a German one, the Dresden, engaged in a sea battle which ended with the scuttling of the German cruiser. Today there are currently around one thousand people living in the archipelago, most of them in the village of San Juan Bautista engaged in fishing for the “spiny lobster”, a delicacy exported to the mainland.