Isla del Coco is situated at 5 degrees 32' North and 86 degrees 59' West
approximately 550 km west of the Central American coast. With its size of 24
sqkm it is the largest uninhabitated island in the world. Its highest elevation
is the Cerro Iglesias (634m asl). Rain forest, more than 200 water falls and
numerous rivers are typical for this almost untouched island. The climate is
very hot and has an extreme humidity, over the year it has more than 8000 mm
rainfall! The waters around Cocos Island are home of the largest shark
populations of the oceans.
Cocos Island was discovered by the Spaniard sailor John Cabezas in 1526. It
first appeared on the 1542 map of French King Henry II as "Ysle de Coques".
Because of the abundance of fresh water, wood, fish and coconuts it became a
famous refuge for pirates, corsairs and whalers in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Dozens of treasures are said to be hidden by such famous pirates like Morgan and
Benito Bonito, the most famous still to be found is the fabulous "Church
treasure of Lima" worth several billion US$.
Costa Rica's presence in the island dates from April 1832 when the govern-
ment rescued 13 stranded Chileans. Nevertheless, the country did not take
official possession of the land until Sep 15, 1869. As usual for remote islands
it served as a penal colony for high security prisoners from 1874 through 1882.
The island was declared a National Park and Biological Reserve in June 1978 and
in addition to this the UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1997.
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