Archive for the 'Latin America' Category

Disaster on Isla Orrego, Chile

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

A tiny river island in Chile may have been the site of 35% of Chile’s earthquake casualties, if reports are accurate.

As many as 300 people may have been camped on Isla Orrego at the mouth of the Maule River at the town of Constitucion, as part of a holiday celebration. The island is low-lying, partly forested, and only about 50 acres / 20 hectares.


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Waves of up to 30 feet / 10 meters swept over the island. While some had left after the quake, many remained, and all but a few who managed to climb trees were carried away.

Donde Esta Mi Isla?

Friday, August 21st, 2009

water_mamamusings_FlickrMexico has been searching hard for an island that likely never existed.

Isla Bermeja was depicted on 17th and 18th century maps as lying off the Yucatan, but extensive investigations have failed to show any sign of it.

Were the island to exist, it would extend Mexico’s rights to energy extraction further into the Gulf of Mexico, so its failure to be could be worth billions of dollars.

Mexicans have theorized that the island might have been submerged by rising sea levels, or been blown up by the CIA to extend American drilling rights in the Gulf. Neither is plausible. Mexican fantacists go as far as claiming mysterious murders of officials who opposed this island-snatching Yankee perfidy.

It is most likely that the island was one of many phantom islands that appeared on maps during the early years of oceanic cartography; some stuck around, on maps at least, for a very long time.

(Image courtesy mamamusing, Flickr)

The real Robinson Crusoe

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Der Spiegel reports on Alexander Selkirk, who likely inspired the novel Robinson Crusoe.

Archeology is now offering insight into his life on Isla Robinson Crusoe, an isolated Pacific island administered by Chile. Selkirk spent four years and four months entirely alone here after being marooned in the early 18th century.

The highest islanders in the world

Saturday, April 8th, 2006

With the possible exception of a few Tibetan monks, the islanders of Lake Titicaca inhabit the highest populated islands in the world.

The NYT here reports on Taquile and its 2,000 Taquileños, on the Peruvian side of the lake. And another tourist recently visited two other Titicaca islands, along with Taquile.

For a more in-depth view of the island, see this article.

The threatened Galapagos

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

The battle to save the Galapagos from goats, dogs, pigs, cats, donkeys, plants, insects, and humans.  Only 5% of the islands’ species have gone extinct since the Galapagos were discovered, but many are now threatenedand conservationists say they are losing the fight on inhabited islands in the group.

Risk your life, get $100

Monday, February 27th, 2006

I won the WorldAtlas.com geoquiz today. This was the crucial clue:

This somewhat unusual body of land has many striking features, not the least of which are its two massive (and somewhat scary) cloud-covered volcanoes.

The answer was Isla Ometepe, Lake Nicaragua, and it helped that Ometepe is one of my favorite islands among the 311 that I’ve visited.

I had to go: Concepcion Volcano makes Ometepe the tallest lake island on the planet, rising a vertical mile above the lake.  Most of this rise is accomplished in a horizontal mile and a half, so it was indeed a scary climb, up fresh rockslide chutes and into the clouds, then on all fours up ash slopes until the ground suddenly dropped away into a crater emanating heat.