Crusoe’s island is never given a formal name, although it is occasionally referred to as ‘The Island of Despair’. In several editions of the novel, a map of the island is provided, marking the locations where the cannibals come ashore to hold their feasts, Crusoe’s ‘country bower’, main fortress and the woods in which his goats are hidden.
From Defoe's description, the island appears to be tropical, with a fairly dense covering of trees. Wild goats, parrots and pigeons abound, along with an occasional turtle in the sea, and Crusoe finds citrus fruit, cacao and grapes. The terrain is very hilly, providing good opportunities for building a defensive abode.
In a painting by Carl Offterdinger (1829-89) the vegetation appears tropical, and this is supported by the assertion in the book that the island lies "near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque". The Orinoco delta lies just south of Trinidad, close to the Equator.
On the other hand, it is likely that Robinson Crusoe was based on the true story of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailor marooned for four years and four months on a South Pacific island well below the Tropic of Capricorn.
In 2005, Japanese explorer Daisuke Takahashi claimed to have found the cave Selkirk lived in 300 years ago on the remote Isla Robinson Crusoe, off the coast of Chile.
Isla Robinson Crusoe belongs to an archipelago of three islands situated 674km off the west coast of South America. They consist of Robinson Crusoe (formerly Más a Tierra or Aguas Buenas) and the smaller Alejandro Selkirk and Santa Clara.
Brazil was colonised in the 1500s by the Portuguese, and became a major centre of sugar cane production. African slaves were transported across the Atlantic to work the plantations, and their descendents form a large part of the modern Bahia population.