Devil's Island

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Devil's Island (French: île du Diable) is the third largest island of the Îles du Salut island group in the Atlantic Ocean. It is located approximately 14 km (9 miles) off the coast of French Guiana in South America just north of the town of Kourou. The island was a part of the controversial French penal colony of French Guiana for 101 years, from 1852 to 1953, but in spite of its being the smallest part of the penal colony, it is the most famous due to its use of internal exile of political prisoners. It is part of the Prison Island Swims.

Devil's Island was first used to house the prison system's leper colony.

The penal colony was controversial for it had a reputation for harshness and brutality. Prisoner-on-prisoner violence was common, tropical diseases were rife. Only a small minority of broken survivors would return to France to tell how horrible it was and scare other potential criminals straight. This system was gradually phased out and has been completely shut down since 1953. Nowadays the islands are a popular tourist destination.

Prison Island Swims

Devil's Island is one of the 8 open water swims of the Octad of Open Water Swims or Prison Island Swims that includes the following open water swims around formerly well-guarded isolated prison islands. Robben Island, Alcatraz Island, Spike Island and Rottnest Island are now 21st century sites better known for challenging open water swims with tricky currents and surrounding marine life. Convicts of the past have given way to contemporary open water swimming traditionalists and wetsuit-clad triathletes and swimmers.

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