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Tierra del Fuego

The southernmost tip of Argentina is part of the Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, known as the big island of land of fire. The western portion of the island is part of Chile while the eastern portion is part of Argentina. Together with the surrounding smaller islands, this region is the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago. Located at the very southern tip of the country, this province is the smallest and least populated of all of Argentina's provinces. Though not immensely populated, the province is home to a wide variety of landscapes.

Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

The land has been inhabited by indigenous groups for over 12,000 years. In 1520 European colonizers first landed on this region of earth. Even after Argentina was established, this portion of land was left for indigenous populations until it was declared a territory in 1885 and then a province in 1990.

Landscapes vary widely throughout the province. The northern shores offer some sandy beaches and lower elevation mountains, characterized as a subpolar oceanic zone. The middle section of the island marks the end of the Andes mountains with peaks reaching just over 4,000 feet. Because of how southern the island is, many small glaciers are still scattered throughout the peaks as they flow into the nearby ocean. The southern region of the island is classified as a tundra climate though winter temperatures average around slightly below freezing. The southern shores also receive some of the strongest winds on the island, reaching over 60 miles per hour. The island receives around 28 inches of annual rainfall, spread throughout the year. Due to the immense amount of snowfall on much of the island, Tierra del Fuego is characterized as a Magellanic subpolar forest ecoregion.There are 212 named mountains in Tierra del Fuego Province. Cerro Tonelli is the highest point at 4,465 feet. The most prominent mountain is Cerro Lago with 3,471 feet of prominence. The island’s economy relies on manufacturing, sheep ranching, and tourism.

Cerro Guanaco mountain seen from the Black Laggon, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

Cerro Guanaco mountain seen from the Black Laggon

The largest lake within the province, which also happens to be the largest southern lake besides those in Antarctica, is known as Lago Fagnano. The lake spans into both Argentina and Chile with a large majority of it being in Argentina. The southern shores of the lake are steeply met by the rugged mountains while the northern shore expands along a plateau.

The location of the park, along the southern tip of Argentina, has led to many animal species being introduced from European and American settlers. These settlers are responsible for the current populations of the North American beaver, muskrat, and gray fox. Other animals in the park include the guanaco and the Andean fox. The park is also home to over 90 species of birds including sheldgeese, ashy-headed goose, Patagonian woodpeckers, condors, eagles and various others. At the sea level, the park is home to sea lions, multiple species of penguins, scallops, crustaceans and fish.

Major Hikes and Attractions

The most visited region of the province is the Tierra del Fuego National Park, also known as the Fire Land National Park. Located on the southwestern tip of the province this park spans 243 square miles surrounding the city of Ushuaia. The park showcases some of the diverse landscape in the park featuring mountains, beaches, subalpine lakes, glaciers, and vast meadows.

Tierra del Fuego National Park, Argentina

Popular hikes and visitor spots include the Martial Green Trail, Esmeralda Lagoon, Cerro Guanaco, Fagnano Lake, Beagle Channel, and the Museum of the End of the World.

Esmeralda Lagoon, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina

Hiking trail to Emerald lagoon in the Tierra Mayor valley

Major Towns and Resorts

Ushuaia

Located along the southwestern tip of the Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego lies Ushuaia. The city is home to around 60,000 residents and is the southernmost city in all of Argentina. Not only is it the largest city in the region, but it is the only municipality in the Department of Ushuaia. The nearest major city, Punta Arenas, lies 152 miles away in Chile. Despite being such a southern city, the land surrounding Ushuaia is heavily forest with moderately cold temperatures. The city is a popular tourist destination with providing access to Tierra del Fuego National Park. Ice hockey and skiing are common activities amongst locals and tourists alike.

Ushuaia, Argentina

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