Robinson Crusoe Island
|Native name: Isla Robinson Crusoe|
Map of Robinson Crusoe Island/Isla Más a Tierra
|Archipelago||Juan Fernández Islands|
|Adjacent bodies of water||Pacific Ocean|
|Area||47.9 km2 (18.49 sq mi)|
|Highest elevation||915 m (3,002 ft)|
|Highest point||El Yunque|
|Commune||Juan Fernández Islands|
|Population||859 (as of 2011 est.)|
Robinson Crusoe Island (Spanish: Isla Robinson Crusoe), formerly known as Más a Tierra (‘Closer to Land’, also spelt Más Atierra or Másatierra) or Aguas Buenas (‘Good Waters’), is the largest island of the Juan Fernández Archipelago, situated 600 km (373 mi) west of South America in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago is made up of three islands: Robinson Crusoe, Alejandro Selkirk (formerly Más a Fuera, ‘Closer to Sea’, literally ‘More Outward’) and Santa Clara. Robinson Crusoe has the largest population of the two inhabited islands, with most of the population living in the town of San Juan Bautista at Cumberland Bay on the island's north coast.
Robinson Crusoe Island has a mountainous and undulating terrain, formed by ancient lava flows which have built up from numerous volcanic episodes. The highest point on the island is 915 m (3,002 ft) above sea level at El Yunque (‘the anvil’). Intense erosion has resulted in the formation of steep valleys and ridges. A narrow peninsula is formed in the southwestern part of the island called Cordón Escarpado (‘steep strip’). The island of Santa Clara is located 1.5 km (0.9 mi) off the southwest coast.
Robinson Crusoe Island lies to the west of the boundary between the Nazca Plate and the South American Plate, and rose from the ocean 3.8 – 4.2 million years ago. A volcanic eruption on the island was reported in 1743 from El Yunque, but this event is uncertain. On the February 20, 1835, a day-long eruption began from a submarine vent 1.6 kilometres (1.0 mi) north of Punta Bacalao (‘cod point’). The event was quite minor—only a Volcanic Explosivity Index 1 eruption—but it produced explosions and flames that lit up the island, along with tsunamis.
Robinson Crusoe has a subtropical climate, moderated by the cold Humboldt Current, which flows northward to the east of the island, 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. Rainfall is greater 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 the island is lower and drier.
Flora and fauna
The Fernandezian Region is a floristic region which includes the Juan Fernández Islands archipelago. It is in the Antarctic Floristic Kingdom, but often also included within the Neotropical Kingdom. As World Biosphere Reserves since 1977, these islands have been considered of maximum scientific importance because of the endemic plant families, genera, and species of flora and fauna. 132 out of 211 native plant species are endemic, as well as more than 230 species of insects.
Robinson Crusoe Island has one endemic plant family, Lactoridaceae. The Magellanic Penguin is also found there. The Juan Fernández Firecrown is an endemic and critically endangered red hummingbird, which is most famous for its needle-fine black beak and silken feather coverage. The Masatierra Petrel is named after the island's former name.
The island was first named Juan Fernandez Island after Juan Fernández, a Spanish sea captain and explorer who was the first to land there in 1574. It was also known as Más a Tierra. There is no evidence of an earlier discovery either by Polynesians, despite the proximity to Easter Island, or by Native Americans.
It was here that the sailor Alexander Selkirk was marooned as a castaway in 1704, and lived in solitude for four years and four months. Selkirk had been gravely concerned about the seaworthiness of his ship, the Cinque Ports, and declared his wish to be left on the island during a mid-voyage restocking stop. His captain, Thomas Stradling, a colleague on the voyage of privateer and explorer William Dampier, was tired of his dissent and obliged. All Selkirk had left with him was a musket, gunpowder, carpenter's tools, a knife, a Bible and some clothing. The sailor's experience most likely inspired Daniel Defoe to write the classic novel Robinson Crusoe in 1719. In the 1840 narrative, Two Years Before the Mast, Richard Henry Dana, Jr. described the port of Juan Fernandez as a young prison colony. To reflect the literary lore associated with the island, the Chilean government renamed the location Robinson Crusoe Island in 1966.
German admiral Maximilian von Spee’s cruiser squadron stopped and re-coaled at the island between 26 – 28 October 1914, during World War I. It was here that the admiral was unexpectedly rejoined by the armed merchant cruiser Prinz Eitel Friedrich, which he had earlier detached to attack Allied shipping in Australian waters, and where he was finally caught by a British squadron at the Battle of Más a Tierra.
Robinson Crusoe Island was hit by a tsunami on February 27, 2010 after the 8.8 Chile earthquake. The tsunami was about 3 m (10 ft) high when it reached the island. Eight people lost their lives, and much of the coastal village of San Juan Batista was damaged or destroyed. Fortunately, a timely warning from a 12-year-old girl named Martina Maturana saved many of her neighbors from harm.
Robinson Crusoe had an estimated population of 859 in 2011 (525 men, 334 women) living in the village of San Juan Bautista. Although the community maintains a rustic serenity dependent on the spiny lobster trade, residents employ a few vehicles, a satellite Internet connection, and many television sets. There is an airstrip on the island, near the tip of the island's southwestern peninsula. The flight from Santiago de Chile is just under three hours, and there is a ferry from the airstrip to San Juan Bautista.
Tourists number in the hundreds per year. One activity gaining popularity is scuba diving, particularly on the wreck of the German light cruiser SMS Dresden, which was scuttled in Cumberland Bay during the Battle of Más a Tierra in World War I.
In popular culture
Apocalypse Island, a television program shown on the History Channel on January 3, 2010, was filmed on Robinson Crusoe Island. It showed two rock formations that Canadian explorer Jim Turner claims are badly degraded Mayan statues. The program has been criticized as lacking in scientific credibility.
- Flora of the Juan Fernández Islands
- Endemic flora of the Juan Fernández Islands
- Endemic fauna of the Juan Fernández Islands
- Hernán Torres Santibáñez, Marcela Torres Cerda (2004). Los parques nacionales de Chile: una guía para el visitante. Colección Fuera de serie. Editorial Universitaria. ISBN 9789561117013. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
- Dig finds camp of 'real Crusoe' – BBC News
- Corporacion Nacional Forestal de Chile. "Parque Nacional Archipiélago de Juan Fernández". Retrieved 27 May 2010.
- "Forest on Robinson Crusoe Island". Wondermondo.
- C. Michael Hogan (2008) Magellanic Penguin, GlobalTwitcher.com, ed. N. Stromberg
- A. Anderson, S. Hoberle, G. Rojas, An Archeological exploration of Robinson Crusoe Island, Juan Fernandez Archipelago, Chile
- B. Selcraig (July 2005). The Real Robinson Crusoe. Smithsonian, p.82–90.
- Richard Henry Dana (1840). Two Years Before the Mast, p.28–32.
- Tsunami warning came too late for Robinson Crusoe Island Earth Times
- Narrative by tourists who were there during the tsunami
- Eben Harrell (2 March 2010), "Chile's President: Why Did Tsunami Warnings Fail?", Time Magazine (accessed 4 March 2010).
- Erica Liepmann (4 March 2010), "Chilean Girl Saves Her Island From Tsunami After Earthquake", Huffington Post (accessed 4 March 2010).
- Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas.
- La Punta Airport
- Juan Fernandez, A Living Treasure
- Chile: The real Crusoe had it easy
- "Armageddon: Apocalypse Island". A&E Television Networks. 2009. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "User Comments: Apocalypse Island". Internet Movie Database. n.d. Retrieved 18 October 2012.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Robinson Crusoe Island.|
- Routes around the island with descriptions and photos of sights
- Robinson Crusoe Island satellite map with anchorages and other ocean-related information
- A detailed map of the island, showing footpaths and walkers' refuges is available in this online document
- Juan Fernandez Photo Gallery - images of landscapes, flora and fauna of Robinson Crusoe Island
- Robinson Crusoe, Moai statues and the Rapa Nui: the stories of Chile’s far-off islands
- A digital field trip to Robinson Crusoe Island.
- Chasing Crusoe: A multimedia documentary website about the island
- Apocalypse Island Information about the History Channel program on rock formations on the island.