The Diego Ramírez Islands are a group of islands. They are in the Drake Passage, about 100 km southwest of Cape Horn. The Ildefonso Islands are 93 km to the north-northwest. There is a group of 6 islands to the north, then there is a waterway of 3 km, then there is another group to the south. There is a weather station in one of the islands. The islands are an important nesting place for birds.
The islands belong to Chile, and are named after Diego Ramírez. They were first sighted on 12 February 1619 by Marco Ramirez of the Garcia de Nodal expedition, and named after the cosmographer of the expedition. They were the southernmost landmass known at the time. They kept this status for 156 years. In 1775, James Cook discovered the South Sandwich Islands, which are much farther south.
The Chilean Navy built a meteorological station above Caleta Condell, a small cove on the northeast side of Isla Gonzalo (Gonzalo Island), in 1957, and resupply it several times each year. This is the southernmost manned outpost of South America (including islands), even if the South Sandwich Islands are regarded as part of South America. The Argentinian station on Thule Island was taken down in June 1982 after the Falklands War. The next southerly manned outpost of South America is the lighthouse of Cape Horn. Cruise ships sometimes pass by on their way to and from Antarctica.
The archipelago has 2 groups. The North group is smaller and is named as Rocas del Norte. There are 5 islands in this group, Islote Cabezas, Islote Peñailillo, Isla Norte, Islote Martínez and Islote Mendoza. In the South group are many islands, for example; Islote Santander, Islotes Vergara, Isla Bartolomé (the principal island), Islote Pontevedra, Islote García, Isla Gonzalo (the second longest) and Islote Ester.
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