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Puerto Cook, north coast
Lighthouse San Juan del Salvamento in the east (1898)
Isla de los Estados (Dutch: Stateneiland) is an Argentine island that lies 29 km off the eastern extremity of the Argentinemarker portionmarker of Tierra del Fuegomarker, from which it is separated by the Le Maire Straitmarker. It was named for the Netherlands States-General, and its original Dutch name was identical to that of the New York borough of Staten Islandmarker.

The island is administratively part of the Argentinian province of Tierra del Fuegomarker, and of the department and city of Ushuaiamarker. It has been declared an "Ecological, Historic, and Tourist Provincial Reserve" ("Reserva provincial ecológica, histórica y turística"), with access limited to tours from Ushuaia. The only settlement is the Puerto Parry Naval Station, located in a deep and narrow fjord on the northern coast of the island. The naval station, created in 1978, is manned by a team of four marines on a 45-day rotation, in charge of monitoring environmental conservation, ship movement, and also to provide emergency assistance.

History

The island was discovered on December 25, 1615 by Jacob le Maire and Willem Schouten, who named it Country of the Lords of the State. Dutch captain Hendrik Brouwer sighted it in 1643. Argentine sailor Luis Piedra Buena constructed a shelter near Port Cook in 1862, and built a small seal oil extraction facility on the island.

The San Juan del Salvamento was inaugurated on May 25, 1884 by Comodoro Augusto Lasserre, and functioned until 1899. The lighthouse, better known as Faro del fin del mundo ("Lighthouse at the end of the world"), is said to have inspired Jules Verne for his book The Lighthouse at the End of the World, published in 1905.A military prison was set on the island, working from 1899 to 1902, when it had to be moved to Tierra del Fuego after being compromised by the strong winds.

Geography

The Staten Island is approximately 65 kilometres (40 mi) long east-west, and 15 km wide, with an area of 534 km² (206 mi²); it is deeply indented by bays. The highest point is 823 metres (2600 ft), and is considered to be the last prominence of the Andes mountain range. The island receives around 2,000 millimetres (79 in) of rain per year.

The island is surrounded by minor islands and rocks, the largest being Isla Observatorio 6.5 km north of it, with an area of 4 km².



The island is the setting of the Jules Verne book The Lighthouse at the End of the World.

Flora and fauna

Isla de los Estados is covered with dense low forests of Notophagus southern beech. The animal life is composed mainly of penguins, orcas, seal, seagulls and cormorants, as well as the human-introduced deer and goats. The island is the location of one of the more southerly Atlanticmarker breeding colonies of the Magellanic Penguin. As early as the last part of the 18th century, Isla de los Estados was used as a seal harvesting location.

References

  1. In search of the lighthouse at the end of the world. (In Spanish)
  2. C. Michael Hogan (2008) Magellanic Penguin, GlobalTwitcher.com, ed. N. Stromberg
  3. James Colnett, Robert Galois (2004) A Voyage to the North West Side of America: The Journals of James Colnett, 1786-89, published by UBC Press, ISBN 0774808551, 9780774808552 441 pages


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