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Desventuradas Islands

Travel Guide South America Chile Desventuradas Islands

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Introduction

The Desventuradas Islands ("Unfortunate Islands") is a group of four small islands located 850 kilometres off the coast of Chile, northwest of Santiago in the Pacific Ocean. They are considered part of Insular Chile.

The vegetation is a miniature mosaic of matorral, barren rock, various size trees, and shrubs mixed with ferns and perennial herbs. There are no permanent sources of fresh water on the islands. Vertebrates inhabiting both islands are limited to birds. Ten species of marine birds and one land bird species, some of them endangered, make their nests on or visit the islands.

Because of their isolation and difficulty of access, there are no human settlements on these islands, but a detachment of the Chilean Navy is stationed on Isla San Félix, which also hosts the 2,000-metre Isla San Felix Airport (ICAO code for the airfield: SCFX).

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History

The islands were first sighted by Juan Fernández on 6 November 1574 while voyaging from Callao to Valparaíso, and perhaps earlier by Ferdinand Magellan in 1520. Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa wrote in 1579 that "they are now called after St. Felix and St. Ambor (i.e. Felix and Nabor)". However, the name of the martyr Ambor (Nabor) became confused with that of the more famous bishop Saint Ambrose (San Ambrosio). It is, probably, one of these islands that Captain John Davis struck one night in 1686. He was able to continue his voyage but, erroneously reported the position of the incident.

San Felix played a part in the Falklands War. In May 1982, the Chilean government allowed RAF Nimrod MR2s to fly maritime reconnaissance sorties from the island, gathering information on the movements of the Argentine Navy.

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This is version 1. Last edited at 13:29 on Mar 16, 17 by Utrecht. 1 article links to this page.

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