The 1 Stuiver copper coin of Purepuran chimes in at 28 millimeters and around 14 grams, uncirculated but in a rich milk chocolate brown color. Value based on the earlier Stuivers that were in the neighborhood of 20-21 millimeters and approximately 13.5 grams. This makes the Purepuran Stuiver pretty historically accurate to the Stuiver found a bit over 200 years ago. Release date June 17, 2013.
The tiny island of Purepuran, covering a mere 1,913 acres, is a raised coral island with a population of 572.
The population has lived on the island for centuries. The community is not formed into towns but entirely rural, likely because of land division. Each family owns a piece of the island which is divided among each household. Traditionally each household resides on the land the household owns.
The island has a school offering a primary education but very, very few seek an advanced education. There are three churches and two very poorly stocked stores on the island. Tourism is minimal as guests arrive by a small boat that makes the 4 to 5 hour journey a couple of times a month. There are a couple of guest cottages that can accommodate up to ten visitors at a time.
The tourists come for three reasons. In the center of the island is a large lake with mixed salt water and fresh water. It is thought the lake was once the lagoon for the island before seismic activity raised the coral up from sea level to heights of nearly 600 feet. The fresh water lake appears a deep green because of the intense green algae growth. The lake teems with large orange and lavender to neon purple colored claims, a non-stinging jellyfish and long slender water snakes that not only are non-poisonous but have never in memory bitten a human. Sea cucumbers are found and an illuminating fish that looks much like an aquatic firefly as it swims. Other fish include a puffer fish related to the fresh water puffer, a neon green and deep blue fish, mostly too small to make for good eating. Under the water, the lake is a rainbow of colors.
The second attraction is the network of caves found near the coastline. Some of the caves lead to tiny private sandy beaches. One has an unusual feature. One cave offers a 6.5 foot opening, going about 65 feet before opening to a large cavern where the ceiling is illuminated by the sun shining on the water, creating a blue light. While one end opens to the ocean, it is not evident the light is coming from this opening. It is simply explained as an optical illusion although the cavern’s ceiling is indeed illuminated. Some think a crack in the wall of the cave causes a prism effect that shines the reflection of the sun hitting the water some 200 feet above the ocean below, but this is not clearly seen.
The third reason is deep water ocean fishing right from the shore. One may hire a person to take them out in a canoe for some fishing. While no record catches have been authenticated, some say many catches would rival or beat record catches.
The climate is purely tropical with around 85 inches of rain per year. The island is subject to typhoons.
The vegetation is tropical island jungle but about half of the island has been cleared of thick vegetation for farming.
One of the features of the island is dome shaped small structures. Stone is used to make a circular shaped building used primarily as storage, however the local population calls them cyclone houses, noting the shape allows them to withstand even the strongest typhoons.
The island is truly isolated. With only a small motor board coming to the island every 2 or 3 weeks, the only outside communication is via a battery operated radio. There are no police on the island. The only medical care comes in the form of a one room structure with a single bed and very few supplies. This is manned by a nurse. It is very ill equipped. One visitor described the medical care to the nurse’s office he remembered from Boy Scout camp.
The islanders are Christian. About half the population is Catholic and the remainder is Anglican. Both of the churches provide teaching staff for the grassroots school. The whole population is involved with one or the other church.
The islanders cling to traditional life without the typical pressure from the outside world. A form of entertainment is the improvised chant. One person begins a chant, running through the melody. The audience shows approval by dancing, clapping or by singing along. Most chants are created to simple repeating melodies with repeating lines or choruses. Most chants develop slowly with the audience slowly warming to the chant over a few minutes. Most deal with some aspect of island life and youth men and women especially enjoy chanting. Most offer some form of traditional value in the subject, typically approved by the older population who show approval by standing or raising their hands.
Economically, the islanders are poor with a per capita income of $910 US per year but estimates are this is 80-95% non-cash. Another estimate is 97.5% non cash. We wonder if the second estimate excludes scrip issued on the island.
Historically, the island has had little contact with the outside world. Early explorers found the raised coral island a challenge as did trade vessels. There is no account of islanders being removed from the island to be forced into slavery. Thus, the epidemics and mass depopulation that so many islands suffered from is not a part of Purepuran’s history.
This may very well be the reason Purepuran is still locked in an earlier time as far as customs and lifestyle are concerned. Purepuran remains unspoiled.
This lack of contact means there is virtually no infrastructure on the island and in times when cyclones devastate the island, the islanders themselves are the only aid as they suffer through the period of rebuilding. Fortunately their oral tradition warns of such natural hazards leading the islanders to always be prepared. In recent typhoons, the islanders came through quite well with stored food and water, riding out the storms in the many caves on the island.
We have little detail on what money is found on the island. We know a scrip is issued, possibly by the stores or some other authority. We know nothing of the coins, but we understand there is a local coinage. We understand foreign coins are common, so we think the number of local coins and scrip circulation is far less than the demand for money, albeit the demand for money is minimal at best. We expect details in coming months and shall add to this writing those details shared with us.