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

Tierra del Fuego

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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.