Tierra del Fuego

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Tierra del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego is a province in southern Argentina, bordering on the west with Chile, on the north with the Strait of Magellan, on the south with the Beagle Channel, and on the east with the Argentine Sea. Formerly a national territory, Tierra del Fuego became a province in 1992. Its capital is the city of Ushuaia and its population is estimated at 100,000. Before the building of the Panama Canal (1914), the Strait of Magellan was the most important passage between the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans despite its hostile conditions for navigating.

Argentina maintained a lengthy conflict with Chile in the 1970s for control over the Lennox, Picton, and Nueva islands in the southern area of the Beagle Channel. A court of arbitration ruling favoring Chile was rejected by the Argentine dictatorship, and in 1978 the two nations were on the verge of war. Finally, papal mediation allowed Chile to retain sovereignty over the disputed territory.

The main island of the archipelago comprising this province is the island of Tierra del Fuego, separated from the continent by the Strait of Magellan (which connects the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean). The climate throughout the province is predominantly cold. Its main economic activities are drilling for oil, the home appliance industry, fishing, and tourism. The channels of Tierra del Fuego and the province's national parks are popular tourist attractions, with many cruise ships visiting the area.

See alsoArgentina, Geography; Chile, Geography; Magellan, Strait of.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Lacoste, Pablo. La imagen del otro en las relaciones de la Argentina y Chile (1534–2000). Buenos Aires: Fondo de Cultura Económica, 2003.

                                        Vicente Palermo

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Tierra del Fuego (tyĕ´rä dĕl fwā´gō), [Span.,=land of fire], archipelago, 28,476 sq mi (73,753 sq km), off S South America, separated from the mainland by the Strait of Magellan. It consists of one large island (sometimes called simply Tierra del Fuego), five medium-sized islands, and numerous small islands, islets, and rocks separated by many inlets and channels. The Andes extend through the western part, and the plateau of Patagonia continues into the eastern section. The coastal plains are bleak, with frequent high winds and much rainfall, while the inland areas and the mountains are often very cold. Tierra del Fuego is divided into two sections, the eastern part belonging to Argentina (the territory of Tierra del Fuego) and the larger western part to Chile (a part of Magallanes prov.). The economy is based on the exploitation of petroleum and tourism; there is some light industry. Sheep raising, once important, is now less so. Tierra del Fuego was discovered by Ferdinand Magellan in 1520 but was not well surveyed until the early 19th cent. The introduction of sheep farming and the discovery of gold in the 1880s led to European, Argentine, and Chilean immigration. The aboriginal peoples of Tierra del Fuego (the Onas, Alakalufs, and Yahgans) were gradually killed off by disease.

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Tierra del Fuego (Sp. ‘Land of Fire’) Archipelago separated from mainland s South America by the Magellan Strait. It consists of one large island and other smaller islands. At the s extremity of the islands lies Cape Horn. The main island is politically divided between Argentina and Chile. The islands remained undiscovered by Europeans until Ferdinand Magellan landed in 1520. The Tierra del Fuego were not settled until the 1880s, when the discovery of gold (and later oil) attracted many Europeans, Argentinians, and Chileans to the area. The indigenous population was killed by diseases brought by settlers. The mountainous terrain and harsh climate limit economic activity to sheep rearing and oil exploration. Area: 73,746sq km (28,473sq mi). Pop. (2000) 139,945.

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