Juan Fernández Islands
|Juan Fernández Islands
Archipiélago Juan Fernández
|— Special Territory and Commune —|
|San Juan Bautista in Cumberland Bay, Robinson Crusoe Island|
|Discovered||22 November 1574|
|Commune created||21 September 1979|
|Special territory status||30 July 2007|
|Named for||Juan Fernández|
|Capital||San Juan Bautista|
|• Body||Municipal council|
|• Alcalde (Mayor)||Felipe Paredes Vergara|
|• Total||99.6 km2 (38.5 sq mi)|
|Population (2012 Census)|
|• Density||9.0/km2 ( 23/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CLT (UTC-4)|
|• Summer (DST)||CLST (UTC-3)|
|Website||Juan Fernández Islands|
The Juan Fernández Islands (Spanish: Archipiélago Juan Fernández) are a sparsely inhabited island group reliant on tourism and fishing in the South Pacific Ocean, situated 672 km (363 nmi; 418 mi) off the coast of Chile, and is composed of three main volcanic islands; Robinson Crusoe Island, Alejandro Selkirk Island and Santa Clara Island, the first two being formerly called Más a Tierra and Más Afuera respectively.
The islands are mainly known for having been the home to the marooned sailor Alexander Selkirk for four years, which may have inspired the novel Robinson Crusoe. The islands have an area of 99.6 km2 (38 sq mi), of which 50.1 km2 (19 sq mi) are taken up by Robinson Crusoe (together with Santa Clara), and 49.5 km2 (19 sq mi) by Alexander Selkirk.
The population of the archipelago is 900 (843 on Robinson Crusoe); of those 800 reside in the capital, San Juan Bautista, on Cumberland Bay on the north coast of the island (2012 census). The islands belong administratively to Chile's Valparaíso Region (which also includes Easter Island), and more specifically form one of the nine communes of Valparaíso Province named Juan Fernández (123.36 km2 and 910 people, including the Desventuradas Islands).
- Robinson Crusoe, ( ) (also known as Isla Más a Tierra), located closest to the mainland of continental South America, and its surrounding islets:
- Alejandro Selkirk Island ( ) (also known as Isla Más Afuera), 145 km (90 mi) further west.
(Census 2012 official)
|1||Robinson Crusoe Island||San Juan Bautista||47.9||843||east Islands|
|2||Santa Clara Island||2.2||0||east Islands|
|3||Juanango Islet||0||0||east Islands|
|4||Alejandro Selkirk Island||49.5||57||west Islands|
|Juan Fernandez Islands||San Juan Bautista||99.6||900|
Robinson Crusoe is the second largest of the islands, at 47.9 km2 (18 sq mi) and the highest peak, El Yunque, is 915 metres (3,002 ft). Alexander Selkirk is 49.5 km2 (19 sq mi); its highest peak is Los Innocentes at 1,650 metres (5,413 ft). The population was 57 at 2012. Santa Clara is 2.2 km2 (1 sq mi), and reaches a height of 375 m (1,230 ft). Santa Clara is uninhabited.
The elevations of Juan Fernandez, 915 m (3,002 ft) for Robinson Crusoe and 1,650 m (5,410 ft) for Alejandro Selkirk, respectively, are high enough to cause the Kármán vortex street, which can be seen from space.
The islands are volcanic in origin, and are usually attributed to the passing by of the Nazca Plate over the Juan Fernández hotspot which would have produced the Juan Fernández Ridge that extends into the Peru-Chile Trench at the latitude of Valparaíso Region in mainland South America. The islands have according to most geologists been carried eastward off the hot spot forming the Juan Fernández Ridge as the Nazca Plate subducts under the South American continent. Radiometric dating indicates that Santa Clara is the oldest of the islands, 5.8 million years old, followed by Robinson Crusoe, 3.8 – 4.2 million years old, and Alexander Selkirk, 1.0 – 2.4 million years old.
The islands have a subtropical Mediterranean climate, moderated by the cold Humboldt Current, which flows northward to the east of the islands, and the southeast trade winds. Temperatures range from 3 °C (37 °F) to 34 °C (93 °F), with an annual mean of 15.4 °C (60 °F). Higher elevations are generally cooler, with occasional frosts on Robinson Crusoe. Average annual precipitation is 1,081 mm (42.6 in), varying from 318 mm (12.5 in) to 1,698 mm (66.9 in) year to year. Much of the variability in rainfall depends on the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. Rainfall is higher in the winter months, and varies with elevation and exposure; elevations above 500 m (1,640 ft) experience almost daily rainfall, while the western, leeward side of Robinson Crusoe and Santa Clara are quite dry.
|Climate data for Juan Fernández Islands|
|Average high °C (°F)||21.8
|Daily mean °C (°F)||18.5
|Average low °C (°F)||15.2
|Precipitation mm (inches)||24
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 0.1 mm)||11||10||13||15||21||23||21||19||16||14||10||10||183|
|Mean monthly sunshine hours||248.0||209.1||158.1||123.0||108.5||99.0||93.0||105.4||147.0||204.6||249.0||260.4||2,005.1|
|Source #1: Sistema de Clasificación Bioclimática Mundial|
|Source #2: Climate and Temperature (humidity and sun)|
||This section needs additional citations for verification. (November 2011)|
The Juan Fernández islands are home to a high percentage of rare and endemic plants and animals, and are recognized as a distinct ecoregion. The volcanic origin and remote location of the islands meant that the islands' flora and fauna had to reach the archipelago from far across the sea; as a result, the island is home to relatively few plant species and very few animal species. The closest relatives of the archipelago's plants and animals are found in the Temperate broadleaf and mixed forests ecoregions of southern South America, including the Valdivian temperate rain forests, Magellanic subpolar forests, and Desventuradas Islands.
There are 209 native species of vascular plants in the Juan Fernandez Islands, approximately 150 of which are flowering plants, and 50 are ferns. There are 126 species (62 percent) that are endemic, with 12 endemic genera and one endemic family, Lactoridaceae. Many plants are characteristic of the Antarctic flora, and are related to plants found in southern South America, New Zealand and Australia. Vegetation zones generally correspond to elevation, with grasslands and shrublands at lower elevations, tall and montane forests at middle elevations, and shrublands at the highest elevations. The two main islands have somewhat distinct plant communities.
Alexander Selkirk is mostly covered with grassland from 0 to 400 m (1,300 ft), interspersed with wooded ravines (quebradas), home to dry forests of Myrceugenia and Zanthoxylum fagara. From 400 m (1,300 ft) to 600 m (2,000 ft) are lower montane forests, with upper montane forest from 600 m (2,000 ft) to 950 m (3,100 ft). The treeline is at approximately 950 m (3,100 ft), above which is alpine shrubland and grassland, dominated by temperate Magellanic vegetation such as Acaena, Dicksonia, Drimys, Empetrum, Gunnera, Myrteola, Pernettya, and Ugni. On Robinson Crusoe, grasslands predominate from 0 to 100 m (300 ft); introduced shrubs from 100 m (300 ft) to 300 m (1,000 ft); tall forests from 300 m (1,000 ft) to 500 m (1,600 ft); montane forests from 500 m (1,640 ft) to 700 m (2,300 ft), with dense tree cover of Cuminia fernandezia, Fagara, and Rhaphithamnus venustus; tree fern forests from 700 m (2,300 ft) to 750 m (2,500 ft), and brushwood forests above 750 m (2,500 ft). Santa Clara is covered with grassland.
Three endemic species dominate the tall and lower montane forests of the archipelago, Drimys confertifolia on both main islands, Myrceugenia fernandeziana on Robinson Crusoe, and M. schulzei on Alexander Selkirk. Endemic tree fern species of southern hemisphere genus Dicksonia (D. berteriana on Robinson Crusoe and D. externa on Alexander Selkirk) and the endemic genus Thyrsopteris (T. elegans) are the predominant species in the tree-fern forests. An endemic species of sandalwood, Santalum fernandezianum, was overexploited for its fragrant wood, has not been seen since 1908, and is believed extinct. The Chonta Palm (Juania australis) is endangered.
The Juan Fernández Islands have a very limited fauna, with no native land mammals, reptiles, or amphibians. Seventeen land and sea-bird species breed on the islands. The island has three endemic bird species, and two endemic subspecies. Introduced fauna by humans include rats and goats. Robinson Crusoe Island is home to an endemic and endangered hummingbird, the Juan Fernández Firecrown (Sephanoides fernandensis). This large hummingbird, about 11 cm (4 in) long, is thought to number only about 500 individuals. The other endemic bird species are the Juan Fernández Tit-tyrant (Anairetes fernandezianus) of Robinson Crusoe Island, and the Masafuera Rayadito (Aphrastura masafuerae) of Alejandro Selkirk Island.
The Magellanic Penguin breeds on Robinson Crusoe Island within the archipelago. The endemic Juan-Fernandez spiny lobster (without claws) lives in the marine waters (Jasus frontalis). The Juan Fernández fur seal (Arctocephalus philippii) also lives on the islands. This species was nearly exterminated in the sixteenth to nineteenth century, but it was rediscovered in 1965. A census in 1970 found about 750 fur seals living there. Only two were sighted on the Desventuradas Islands, located some 780 km (485 mi) to the north. The actual population of the Desventuradas may be higher, because the species tends to hide in sea caves. There seems to be a yearly population increase of 16 – 17 percent.
The archipelago was discovered by chance on November 22, 1574, by the Spanish sailor Juan Fernández, who was sailing between Peru and Valparaíso and deviated from his planned course. He called the islands Más Afuera, Más a Tierra, and Islote de Santa Clara.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the islands were used as a hideout for pirates, were the site of Alexander Selkirk's four-year marooning, and provided a location for a penal colony. In the 1740s, they were visited by Commodore Anson's flotilla during his ill-fated venture to the South Seas. The location of the archipelago was fixed by Alessandro Malaspina in 1790; previous charts had differed on the location.
During the maritime fur trade era of the early 19th century the islands were a source of fur seal skins, and the Juan Fernández fur seal was nearly driven to extinction. In his book, Two Years Before the Mast (Chapter VII), Richard Henry Dana, Jr. described the islands as he found them circa 1834. At this time the main island was being used as a penal colony. However, when Dr John Coulter visited the penal colony in the early 1840s, he reported it deserted after the convicts had risen up and killed the soldiers who had held them captive. The prisoners fled to mainland Chile, where they were later hunted and shot. The story appears in Coulter's book Adventures in the Pacific (1845). In 1908, the islands were visited by the Swedish Magellanic Expedition and Carl Skottsberg is believed to have been the last to have seen the Santalum fernandezianum tree alive.
Late in 1914 the islands were the rendezvous for Admiral Maximilian von Spee's East Asiatic Squadron as he gathered his ships together before defeating the British under Admiral Christopher Cradock at the Battle of Coronel. Following the Royal Navy's revenge at the Battle of the Falkland Islands a month later, the only surviving German cruiser, SMS Dresden, was hunted down and cornered at Más a Tierra early in 1915, where she was scuttled after a brief battle with British cruisers.
In 1966 the Chilean government renamed Isla Más Afuera as Isla Alejandro Selkirk and Isla Más a Tierra as Isla Robinson Crusoe, in order to promote tourism. Incidentally, Selkirk never set foot on Más Afuera, only on Más a Tierra. On July 30, 2007, a constitutional reform gave the Juan Fernández Islands and Easter Island the status of "special territories" of Chile. Pending the enactment of a charter the archipelago will continue to be governed as a commune of the Valparaíso Region.
On February 27, 2010, a tsunami following the 8.8 magnitude earthquake off Maule, Chile struck the islands causing at least 8 deaths. Eleven people were reported as missing. Some early reports described the tsunami wave as being 40 meters (130 feet) high, but later reports claimed it was 3 m (10 ft). Most of the town of San Juan Bautista on Robinson Crusoe Island was destroyed.
As a commune, the Juan Fernández Islands are a third-level administrative division of Chile governed by a municipal council, headed by an alcalde who is directly elected every four years. The 2008 – 2012 alcalde is Leopoldo González Charpentier.
Within the electoral divisions of Chile, the commune is represented in the Chamber of Deputies by Joaquín Godoy (RN) and Aldo Cornejo (PDC) as part of the 13th electoral district, (together with Valparaíso and Isla de Pascua). The commune is represented in the Senate by Francisco Chahuán Chahuán (RN) and Ricardo Lagos Weber (PPD) as part of the 6th senatorial constituency (Valparaíso-Coast).
According to data from the 2002 Census of Population and Housing, the commune of Juan Fernández had 633 inhabitants; of these, 598 (94.5 percent) lived in urban areas and 35 (5.5 percent) in rural areas. At that time, there were 377 men and 256 women. Most of the population is of European origin, mainly Spanish, British, German and other European nationalities.
- (Spanish) "Robinson Crusoe Island". Retrieved 8 August 2010.
- "National Statistics Institute". Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- "Chile Time". WorldTimeZones.org. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
- "Chile Summer Time". WorldTimeZones.org. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
- Santibáñez, H.T., Cerda, M.T. (2004). Los parques nacionales de Chile: una guía para el visitante. Colección Fuera de serie. Editorial Universitaria. ISBN 9789561117013.
- The islands' area and population data retrieved from the 2012 census.
- Corporacion Nacional Forestal de Chile. "Parque Nacional Archipiélago de Juan Fernández". Retrieved 27 May 2010.
- "Chile - Juan Fernandez". Centro de Investigaciones Fitosociológicas. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
- "San Juan Bautista, Robinson Crusoe Island, Juan Fernández Islands Weather Averages". Climate and Temperature. Retrieved March 9, 2013.
- C. Michael Hogan (2008) Magellanic Penguin, GlobalTwitcher.com, ed. N. Stromberg
- Kendrick, John (2003). Alejandro Malaspina: Portrait of a Visionary. McGill-Queen's Press. p. 46. ISBN 0-7735-2652-8.; online at Google Books
- Chilean Law 20,193, National Congress of Chile
- Eben Harrell (2 March 2010), "Chile's President: Why Did Tsunami Warnings Fail?", Time Magazine (accessed 4 March 2010).
- Gutierrez, Thelma (2010-02-27). "First waves of tsunami arrive at Hawaii". Honolulu, Hawaii: CNN. Retrieved 27 February 2010.
- Spinali, Gwen (2001-02-27). "40 Meter Tsunami Wave Smashes Juan Fernandez Island". Hollywood Backstage. Retrieved 27 February 2010.
- Unravelling the Chilean tsunami, Times Online, March 1, 2010
- "40 Meter Tsunami Wave Hits Juan Fernández Island". Newsolio. 2010-02-27. Retrieved 27 February 2010.
- (Spanish) Juan Fernández
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Juan Fernandez Islands archipielago|
- Official Isla Juan Fernandez Commune website
- "Map of Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay; Map of Chili" features a map of the islands. From 1860.
- Juan Fernandez Islands – images
- Juan Fernández Islands website archive
- Mémoire de fin d'études; by Vanhulst J.; "Menaces et perspectives pour la préservation de la biodiversité de l'Archipel Juan Fernández (CHILI)" — in Spanish - Master IGEAT – ULB, 2009