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Tierra del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego (Spanish for "Land of Fire") is an archipelago separated from the Southernmost tip of the South American mainland by the Strait of Magellan. The Southern point of the archipelago forms Cape Horn.

The archipelago consists of a main island (Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, often simply called Tierra del Fuego or Isla Grande) with an area of 48,100 sq km (29,887 sq miles), and a group of smaller islands. Half of this island, and the islands west and south of it, are part of the Magallanes Region of Chile, the capital and chief town of which is Punta Arenas, situated on the mainland across the strait.

The biggest Chilean towns are Porvenir, on the main island, and Puerto Williams, on Navarino Island. Puerto Toro lies a few kilometers south of Puerto Williams and is the Southernmost town in the world.

Tierra del Fuego Travel and Trekking Highlights

Boat trips on the Beagle Channel
No trip to Ushuaia - the world's Southernmost city in Patagonia - is complete without a boat trip on the Beagle Channel, the majestic, mountain-fringed sea passage and home to several species of seabird and marine mammal.

Torres del Paine
Three sheer granite towers in one of the most beautiful parks of our planet. Breathtaking lakes and mountains. Patagonia travel adventure at its best.

The eastern part of the archipelago belongs to Argentina, being part of the Tierra del Fuego Province; its capital is Ushuaia, the biggest city of the archipelago, and the other important city in the region is Río Grande, over the Atlantic coast.

Its name comes from Ferdinand Magellan, who was the first European to pass it in 1520. He believed he was seeing the many fires (fuego in Spanish) of the Amerindians, which were visible from the sea, and that the "Indians" were waiting in the forests to ambush his armada. It is, however, more likely that the fires he witnessed were from natural sources such as lightning.