Open main menu

The Desventuradas Islands (Spanish: Islas Desventuradas,[1] IPA: [ˈizlaz ðezβentuˈɾaðas], "Unfortunate Islands" or Islas de los Desventurados, "Islands of the Unfortunate Ones"[2]) is a group of four small islands located 850 kilometres (530 mi) off the coast of Chile, northwest of Santiago in the Pacific Ocean.[3] They are considered part of Insular Chile.

Desventuradas Islands
Native name:
Islas Desventuradas
Map of Desventuradas Islands, also known as San Félix Islands
Map of Desventuradas Islands, also known as San Félix Islands
Desventuradas Islands is located in Pacific Ocean
Desventuradas Islands
Desventuradas Islands
Adjacent bodies of waterPacific Ocean
Total islands4
Major islandsSan Ambrosio, San Félix, Gonzalez and Roca Catedral
Area5.36 km2 (2.07 sq mi)(together)
Highest elevation479 m (1,572 ft) max.
Region Valparaíso
ProvinceValparaíso Province
CommuneJuan Fernández
Additional information
-900077 "San Ambrosio"
-883263 "Gonzáles"
-900282 "San Félix"

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 (6,600 ft) Isla San Felix Airport.


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).[4][5] 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.[6]

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.[7][8]


The vegetation of the larger islands is a miniature mosaic of matorral, barren rock, various size trees, and shrubs mixed with ferns and perennial herbs. Thamnoseris lacerata is an endemic shrub species.

There are no permanent sources of fresh water on any of the islands. Vertebrates inhabiting both of the largest 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.

List of islands and locationEdit

The Desventuradas Islands, from east to west:

Island/Rock Area
Elevation (m)
San Ambrosio 3.1 479 26°20′37″S 79°53′28″W / 26.34361°S 79.89111°W / -26.34361; -79.89111
San Felix group
Islote González 0.25 173 26°18′36″S 80°05′06″W / 26.31000°S 80.08500°W / -26.31000; -80.08500
San Félix 2 Cerro Amarillo, 193 26°17′30″S 80°05′42″W / 26.29167°S 80.09500°W / -26.29167; -80.09500
Roca Catedral 0.01 53 26°16′25″S 80°07′15″W / 26.27361°S 80.12083°W / -26.27361; -80.12083
Total 5.36 479  

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ An Archaeological Exploration of Robinson Crusoe Island
  2. ^ ADM - Records of the Admiralty, Naval Forces, Royal Marines, Coastguard, and related bodies; Pacific Ocean: South America, W Coast: Chile: Islas de los Desventurados and Islas Juan Fernandez;
  3. ^ "San Félix-San Ambrosio Islands temperate forests". Terrestrial Ecoregions. World Wildlife Fund.
  4. ^ B. Glanvill Corney, "The Isles of San Felix and San Nabor," The Geographical Journal, Vol. 56, No. 3 (September 1920), pp. 196–200
  5. ^ Brand, Donald D. The Pacific Basin: A History of its Geographical Explorations The American Geographical Society, New York, 1967, p.127.
  6. ^ Jacques Julien Houtou de Labillardière (1800). Relation du voyage à la recherche de La Pérouse ... 1791, 1792, et pendant la Ière et la 2de année de la République françoise. 2 tom. [and] Atlas.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-30. Retrieved 2008-08-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Alexander, Harriet (7 July 2014). "'Without Chile's help, we would have lost the Falklands'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 8 July 2014.

External linksEdit