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Chile’s Storied Island

By Linda Tancs

Out of the three islands comprising the Juan Fernández Archipelago (so named for Spanish navigator Juan Fernández), Robinson Crusoe Island has a storied past—in the literary sense. Aside from the navigator and his sojourn in the 1500s, the only other visitor to the island over the centuries was Scottish seaman Alexander Selkirk, who was abandoned there for several years in the early 1700s. His adventures are commonly believed to have inspired Daniel Defoe’s novel, Robinson Crusoe. Sparsely populated today, it is administratively part of Chile and a mecca for scuba diving with visibility extending more than 65 feet. A World Biosphere Reserve, it also reportedly has 61 times more native plant species and 13 times more birds than the Galápagos Islands.

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