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Juan Fernández(hwän fārnän`dās), group of small islands, S Pacific, c.400 mi (640 km) W of Valparaiso, Chile. They belong to Chile and are constitutionally a special territory; they are administered as a part of Valparaiso prov. The two principal islands are Isla Robinson Crusoe (formerly Más a Tierra) and Isla Alejandro Selkirk (formerly Más Afuera); they acquired their present names in 1966. Volcanic in origin, they have a pleasant climate and are rugged and largely wooded. Robinson Crusoe is the only inhabited island. The chief occupation is lobster fishing. Discovered by the Spanish navigator Juan Fernández in 1563, the islands achieved fame with the publication of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe (1719), generally acknowledged to have been inspired by the confinement on Más a Tierra (1704–9) of Alexander SelkirkSelkirk, Alexander
, 1676–1721, Scottish sailor whose adventures suggested to Daniel Defoe the story of Robinson Crusoe (1719). In 1704, as a sailing master, Selkirk quarreled with the captain of his ship in the Juan Fernández islands and asked to be put
..... Click the link for more information. , a Scottish sailor. Occupied by the Spanish in 1750, the islands passed to Chile upon its independence. In the 19th cent., Isla Robinson Crusoe was a penal colony. The islands are now a national park.
a group of volcanic islands belonging to Chile; located in the Pacific Ocean, 450 km west of the South American coast. The islands have an area of 185 sq km and a maximum elevation of 1,650 m. The climate is subtropical, and the vegetation features evergreen forests (with many endemic species) and abundant ferns. There are meadows in leeward areas. Economic activities include fishing and cattle raising.
It is probable that the Juan Fernández Islands were a source of inspiration to D. Defoe; for that reason the largest island, Isla Más a Tierra, is also known as Isla Róbinson Crusoe.