The Chilean Pacific Islands
By quirks of geography and history, Chile possesses two of the world’s most fascinating island outposts: the Juan Fernández archipelago, several hundred kilometers off the coast of Valparaíso, and Easter Island (known to its Polynesian islanders as Rapa Nui), in the vast subtropical Pacific. Administratively, both belong to Region V ( Valparaíso), but geographically and culturally they are worlds apart.
Chile annexed Easter Island, the most remote inhabited piece of land on the globe, in the late 19th century. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for the stunning stone statues that have become global icons.
Rarely visited and even less appreciated by either Chileans or foreigners, the Juan Fernández archipelago has become a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve mainly for its singular flora, but it gained global fame in the early 18th century when the Scotsman Alexander Selkirk—by consensus, the real Robinson Crusoe—returned to Britain after spending four solitary years on what, then, was an uninhabited island.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition