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Juan Fernandez

The Juan Fernandez archipelago is located 670 km off the coast of Chile, and is composed of the volcanic islands Robinson Crusoe and Alejandro Selkirk, and the islet Santa Clara. It is mainly known for having been the home to the sailor Alexander Selkirk for four years, which fact inspired the novel Robinson Crusoe.

The archipelago administratively belongs to V Region of Valparaíso.


The archipelago was discovered by the Spanish sailor Juan Fernández, probably between 1563 and 1574. In the 17th and 18th century it was used as an hide-out for pirates.

In 2002 the Chilean government renamed Isla Mas Afuera to Alejandro Selkirk and Isla Mas a Tierra to Robinson Crusoe, in order to promote tourism. Incidentally, Selkirk never set foot on Mas Afuera, only on Mas a Tierra.


The Arctocephalus philippii or Juan Fernandez fur seal lives on the islands. This species was nearly exterminated in the 16th to 19th century, but it was rediscovered in 1965. A census in 1970 indicated about 750 fur seals present in the Archipelago. On the Desventuradas Islands only 2 were sighted. 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%.