Las Cinco Muertes (C/N)

Island Map

Disambiguation Links – Las Cinco Muertes (The Five Deaths) (S/F)

Resting about twenty miles (32.1 kilometers) southwest of Costa Rica is the island chain of Las Cinco Muertes (“The Five Deaths” in Spanish). The name of the archipelago comes from an old Native American legend of a warrior who was given the choice between five  manners of death, and chose all of them; according to legend, the five executions took place on each of these off-shore islands. Despite the fact that the main islands were quite large, they were never permanently colonized due to local superstition–supposedly, they were cursed.

The islands were volcanic in origin, and had large amounts of minerals hidden away on them. This eventually caught the eye of enterprising German geologists in the early 1900s. A few mining operations sprang up on the islands, and remained in operation until the end of the Second World War. After the war ended, the Germans were forced to relinquish control of the islands to Costa Rica. It wasn’t until the late 1980s that InGen leased the largest island in Las Cinco Muertes, Isla Sorna, that people returned to the island.

As its name suggests, Las Cinco Muertes is comprised of five main islands, forming a long crescent-shape. From north to south, the islands are named Isla Matanceros, Isla Muerta, Isla Sorna, Isla Tacaño, and Isla Pena. There are also several islets in the chain which are too small to support any animals other than nesting birds. Like most of the islands in the eastern Pacific, Las Cinco Muertes are a geologically recent phenomenon, forming three million years ago (about two million years younger than the nearby Galápagos Islands).