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Tierra del Fuego

Trip Planner South America  /  Chile  /  Tierra del Fuego
Tierra del Fuego is an archipelago off the southernmost tip of the South American mainland, across the Strait of Magellan. The archipelago consists of the main island, Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, with an area of 48100km2, and a group of many islands, including Cape Horn and Diego Ramírez Islands. Tierra del Fuego is divided between Chile and Argentina, with the latter controlling the eastern half of the main island and the former the western half plus the islands south of Beagle Channel. The southernmost extent of the archipelago is at about latitude 55 S.The earliest known human settlement in Tierra del Fuego dates to around 8,000 B.C. Europeans first explored the islands during Ferdinand Magellan's expedition of 1520; Tierra del Fuego and similar namings stem from sightings of the many bonfires that the natives built. Settlement by those of European descent and the great displacement of the native populations did not begin until the second half of the 19th century, at the height of the Patagonian sheep farming boom and of the local gold rush. Today, petroleum extraction dominates economic activity in the north of Tierra del Fuego, while tourism, manufacturing, and Antarctic logistics are important in the south.
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