Tierra del Fuego (Spanish: land of fire) is an archipelago at the southernmost tip of South America. In 1881 it was divided between Argentina and Chile. The archipelago consists of a main island (Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, often called Tierra del Fuego as well), and a group of smaller islands. It is separated from the continent by the Strait of Magellan. The southern point of the archipelago, in Chile, forms Cape Horn.
The main industries are oil, natural gas, sheep farming and ecotourism. The largest island is Tierra del Fuego, or Isla Grande, with an area of 48,100 km². 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 Williams is the southernmost town in the world, unless Antarctic stations are considered towns.
The eastern part of the archipelago belongs to Argentina, being part of the Tierra del Fuego Province; its capital, Ushuaia, is Argentina's most southerly city, the other important town being Rio Grande, near the Atlantic coast.
Its name comes from the many fires (fuego in Spanish) of the Amerindians, which were visible from the sea. It was named by Ferdinand Magellan, who was the first European to pass it in 1520.
Four native Fuegians, including "Jemmy Button" (Orundellico), were brought from Tierra del Fuego by Robert Fitzroy on the first voyage of the Beagle in 1830. They were taken to meet the King and Queen in London and were to an extent celebrities. The surviving three returned to Tierra del Fuego with the Beagle with Charles Darwin, who made extensive notes about his visit to the islands.
- Bridges, Lucas. 1948. Uttermost Part of the Earth. Reprint with Introduction by Gavin Young, Century Hutchinson, 1987. ISBN 0-7126-1493-1
- Keynes, Richard. 2002. Fossils, Finches and Fuegians: Charles Darwin's Adventures and Discoveries on the Beagle, 1832-1836. HarperCollinsPublishers, London. Reprint: 2003.
Tierra del Fuego is the name of a 2000 movie by Chilean filmmaker Miguel Littín , starring Ornella Muti and Jorge Perugorría .
Last updated: 06-02-2005 05:24:34