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Punta Arenas
View of the city of Punta Arenas. In the background the Strait of Magellan and the north coast of Tierra del Fuego ( Isla Grande De Tierra del Fuego )

Coat of arms
Punta Arenas is located in Chile
Punta Arenas
Location in Chile
Coordinates: 53°10′S 70°56′W / 53.167°S 70.933°W / -53.167; -70.933
Country Chile
Region XII - Magallanes y Antártica Chilena
Province Magallanes
Founded as Punta Arenas
Foundation 18 December 1848
 - Mayor Vladimiro Mimica (2008 - )
 - Total 17,526.3 km2 (6,766.9 sq mi)
Population (2002)
 - Total 154.000
 - Density 6.8/km2 (17.6/sq mi)
Area code(s) 61
Memorial to Ferdinand Magellan in Punta Arenas. It is a tradition among sailors who cross the strait for first time to kiss the foot of the Patagon sitting under Magellan.
Situation of Punta Arenas, in the North shore of the Strait of Magellan.
Sunrise view of the Strait of Magellan.

Punta Arenas (literally in Spanish: "Sandy Point") is the most prominent settlement on the Strait of Magellan and the capital of the Magallanes y la Antártica Chilena Region, Chile. Due to its location and size it is sometimes considered the southernmost city in the world.



The 17th century explorer John Byron is sometimes given credit for the naming. But it was not until much later than any sort of city was settled by the Chilean government (1843). The name Punta Arenas grew out of the Spanish term Punta Arenosa, which was a literal translation of the English name 'Sandy Point'. The city has also been known as "Magallanes" though today that term is normally used to describe the administrative region which includes the city. Punta Arenas has also been called "the city of the red roofs" for the red-painted metal roofs that characterised the city for many years, although since about 1970 the availability of other colours in protective finishes for the characteristic metal roofing has resulted in greater variety.


Located on the Brunswick Peninsula, Punta Arenas is the southernmost city of its size in the world. (Ushuaia, Argentina, also makes this claim and is further south, but has only half the population of Punta Arenas). Punta Arenas is the third largest city in the entire Patagonian Region, after the more northerly Argentine cities of Neuquén and Comodoro Rivadavia. In 2002, it had a population of 120,000.[1] It is roughly 1418.4 km from the coast of Antarctica.

The Magallanes region is considered part of Chilean Patagonia. Magallanes is Spanish for Magellan, the Portuguese explorer who, while circumnavigating the earth for Spain, passed close to the present site of Punta Arenas in 1520. Early English navigational documents referred to its location as "Sandy Point".

The city proper is located on the northeastern shore of Brunswick Peninsula. Besides the eastern shore, with the settlements of Guairabo, Rio Amarillo and Punta San Juan, the peninsula is largely uninhabited. The municipality (commune) of Punta Arenas includes all of Brunswick Peninsula, as well as all islands west of the Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego and north of Cockburn Channel and Magdalena Channel. The largest of those are:

Except Dawson Island, with a population of about 301 in 2002, the islands are largely uninhabited. Clarence Island had a population of just five.


Two early Spanish settlements attempted along this coast (on the Straits of Magellan), including the first (1584), called Nombre de Jesús, failed in large part due to the harsh weather and difficulty in obtaining food and water, and the enormous distances from other Spanish ports. A second colony, Rey don Felipe, was attempted at another location some 80 kilometres south of Punta Arenas. This became known later as Puerto Hambre, sometimes translated as Port Starvation or Famine Port. These Spanish settlements had been established with the intent to prevent piracy by English pirates, by controlling the Straits of Magellan. Ironically it was an English pirate captain, Thomas Cavendish, who rescued the last surviving member of Puerto Hambre in 1587.

As said above, in the year 1843 the Chilean government sent an expedition with the appointed task of establishing a permanent settlement on the shores of the Strait of Magellan. For this it built and commissioned a small sail ship called Goleta Ancud, which under the command of the British sailor John Williams transported a crew of 21 people (captain, eighteen crew, two women), plus cargo, to accomplish the mandate of the Chilean government. The founding act of the settlement took place on 21 September 1843.

Although the site was perfectly suited for a military garrison with the mission of coastal defence, since it is located on top of a small rocky peninsula, it was ill prepared to become a proper civilian settlement. With this in mind the Military Governor, José de los Santos Mardones, decided in 1848 to move the settlement to its current location, on the sides of the Las Minas river, renaming it Punta Arenas.

Plaque in El Magallanes journal building in Punta Arenas.

In the mid-19th century, Chile used Punta Arenas as a penal colony and a disciplinary posting for military personnel with "problematic" behaviour, as well as a place for immigrant colonisation. In December 1851, a prisoners' mutiny led by Lieutenant Cambiaso, resulted in the murder of Governor Muñoz Gamero and the priest, and the destruction of the church and the hospital.[2] The mutiny was put down by Commander Stewart of HMS Virago assisted by two Chilean ships: Indefatigable and Meteoro.[3][4] In 1877 a mutiny, known as "El motín de los artilleros" (Mutiny of the Artillerymen) led to the destruction of a large part of the town and the murder of many civilians not directly associated with the prison. In time the city was restored and with the growth of the sheep industry and the discovery of gold, as well as increasing trade via sailing ships, began to prosper. Between about 1890 and 1940, the Magallanes region became one of the world's most important sheep-raising regions, with one company (Sociedad Explotadora de Tierra del Fuego) controlling over 10,000 square kilometres in southern Chile and Argentina. The headquarters of this company and the residences of the owners were in Punta Arenas. Visitors today can get a glimpse of the economic stature of the city, or at least of its leading citizens, by touring the Sarah Braun museum (sometimes called Braun-Menéndez mansion) in the centre of Punta Arenas. Other popular attractions include the two nearby rookeries for Magellanic penguins, and the rebuilt site of the failed Fuerte Bulnes settlement.

The Punta Arenas harbour, although exposed to storms, was considered one of the most important in Chile before the construction of the Panama Canal, because it was used as a coaling station by the steamships transiting between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Today it is mostly used by tourism cruises and scientific expeditions. The city is often a jumping-off point for Antarctic expeditions, although Ushuaia (Argentina) and Christchurch (New Zealand) are also common starting points.[5]

Panoramic view of northern Punta Arenas


By 2006 the economy of Punta Arenas and the region had diversified considerably, and the city is vibrant and modern. Chile's principal oil reserves, though small, are located here, along with some low-grade coal. A modern methanol plant is located a short distance from the city. Agricultural production, including sheep and cattle, continues to play a significant role, while tourism has contributed to its popularity and steady growth. Fisheries and silviculture are also significant here. A regular ferry service connects Punta Arenas with the main island of Tierra del Fuego and a less frequent ferry runs to the Chilean town of Puerto Williams. A modern airport serves international connections and is often a stopping point for aircraft going to or coming from Antarctica. Paved highways connect Punta Arenas with Argentina.

Since the Falklands War, when transport ties were severed between the Falkland Islands and continental Argentina, Punta Arenas has become a major outside link to the archipelago.


Croatian Club Punta Arenas

Punta Arenas has a population of over 154,000 inhabitants (2008).[6] The city has its roots among the population origin of the European colonists (Croatian and Spanish) that populated the area at mid-nineteenth century. You can also mention some colonies of descendants of people from other countries (i.e. German, English, Italian, Swiss and others).

Croatian immigration in Punta Arenas was a crucial development in the region of Magallanes and the city in particular. Currently, you can see this influence in the names of shops and many buildings. According to some references to 50% of the population of Punta Arenas would be descendants of Croats.[7]

The most important are the port, the oil industry and trade and services, followed by livestock, mostly sheep, fishing and forestry. Depart from Punta Arenas that address some cruises to Antarctica, and its port reaching the majority of European and transatlantic cruise tours as well as flights from the airport to leave the Falkland Islands, Antarctica and the rest of the country with daily flights to the capital Santiago and other cities such as Puerto Montt and Concepción.


Climograma Punta Arenas.png
Air thermography, 1888 - 2008; NASA.
Near Punta Arenas Ski Centre.
Aerial view.

The seasonal temperature in Punta Arenas is greatly moderated by its proximity to the ocean, with specifying average lows in July near −1 °C (30.2 °F) and highs in January of 14 °C (57 °F). This is not to say that it is known for stable constant temperatures, only small variability with season. Rainfall is most plentiful between April and May and snow season goes all through Chilean winter (June till September),although the average temperature does not descend below the 1°C[8]. Among Chileans the city is also known for its strong winds (up to 130 km/hour). Winds tend to be strongest during the summer when city officials put up ropes in the downtown area to assist with unique wind currents created by the buildings.

Since 1986, Punta Arenas has been the first significantly populated city in the world to be directly affected by the hole in the ozone layer, exposing its residents to potentially damaging levels of ultraviolet radiation.[9][6]


Punta Arenas can be accessed by sea, by land or air.

Presidente Carlos Ibáñez del Campo International Airport (IATA: PUQ, ICAO: SCCI), located 20 km north of the city, is the main gateway to the region and serves Punta Arenas. Transport, rental car, duty free shops and custom office services are available in the building. Airlines serving the airport include LAN Chile, Sky Airlines and Aerolineas del Sur as well as charter flights.

By road, passing through Argentine territory is mandatory as there are no direct routes within Chilean territory.[10]

By sea, several cruises and ferries can take you to the city, although the costs are much higher because they include stops at tourist sites along the route.

Sister cities

Punta Arenas has the following sister city relationships, according to Bellingham Sister Cities Association, and Sister Cities International:

Recently, Punta Arenas had a trans-national cultural exchange program with Scotland.

See also



External links

53°10′S 70°56′W / 53.167°S 70.933°W / -53.167; -70.933Coordinates: 53°10′S 70°56′W / 53.167°S 70.933°W / -53.167; -70.933

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

South America : Chile : Extreme South : Punta Arenas

Punta Arenas is a port city in the Extreme South of Chile. The city has a good infrastructure, in particular an abundance of shops, such as supermarkets, pharmacies and hiking gear shops.

Punta Arenas (literally in Spanish: "Sands Point") is the largest settlement on the Strait of Magellan and the capital of Chiles Magallanes y Antártica Region. It has a population of 120,000 (2002).

It is on Brunswick Peninsula, 1418 km from the coast of Antarctica.

Get in

There is an international airport on the outskirts of the city with numerous connections to Puerto Montt and Santiago. Planes are met by taxis and transfer buses making it easy to transfer to the town centre.

Buses leave daily to Puerto Natales as well as Rio Gallegos, Argentina.

Frequent buses to Ushuaia, Argentina take about 11 hours. It's a scenic and intesting drive. Punta Arenas to Ushuaia is a short flight, but ridiculously expensive because it's international.

Get around

The town is accessible by foot.

Penguins at Seno Otway
Penguins at Seno Otway
  • Port area.
  • Regional Museum, with historical artifacts and part of the Braun-Menéndez Mansion
  • Museo del Recuerdo, with an outstanding collection of old steam engines, horsecarts, cars, historic houses furnished in the 1875s style and farm implements.
  • Maggiorino Borgatello Museum, a Salesian Society museum of natural history and pre-Hispanic ethnic groups.
  • Punta Arenas Cemetery, dates back to 1840's, with many English and Croatian graves.

Out of town:

  • The penguin colony "Seno Otway" north of Punta Arenas is a place where each spring hundreds of Magellanic Penguins come home to their birth place to breed. Many travel agencies offer day trips from Punta Arenas that leave you very little time at the colony, so it's best if you have your own car.
  • Rey Jorge Island Natural Sea Park (whale observation).
  • Torres del Paine National Park, near Puerto Natales.
  • Seno Skyring
  • Puerto Hambre, an early Spanish colony which failed and under the name of Port Famine became a Royal Navy base. It was here that Captain Pringle Stokes, the captain of HMS Beagle, shot himself in his cabin due to severe depression and temporary command was given to Lieutenant W.G. Skyring.
  • Fauna Patagónica "Estancia Lolita". A beautiful place for watching different species of native animals and birds.


Ski, Torres del Paine Trekking, visit Porvenir (by ferry) or Puerto Natales (by bus or ferry)

  • Isla Magdalena Penguinera. A five hour trip. Two hours each way by boat and one hour on the island. Humans must stay on the path, but the penguins ignore it and wiil practically step on your feet as they waddle by. Fewer visitors than Otway. October - April.  edit


There’s a small open market ("feria") for tourist type merchandise downtown. You can find department stores, supermarkets and lots of shops (like Timberland, or The North face) in Bories Steet too. There is a large outlet mall in the outskirts of the city, called "Zona Franca", with hypermarkets, perfume, clothing and outdoor stores, all with very convenient prices. Recently opened, also in the outskirts of the city, Mall Espacio Urbano Pionero (Pioneer Urban Space Mall) offers 3 department stores (Falabella, Ripley and La Polar), food court, shopping stores and "Lider" hypermarket.


Open Market: Muñoz Gamero Main Square, Downtown.

Commerce: Bories St, Downtown.

Zona Franca Outlet Mall: Km 3 1/2 Norte, Bulnes Av.

Espacio Urbano Pionero Mall: 01110, Eduardo Frei Av.


Dino's Pizza: Locally famous pizza and sandwich restaurant. Try the delicious ruibarb juice or a "Barros Luco" (a beef and cheese sandwich).

Address: 557, Bories St.

Kiosko Roca: A very small place near the Main Square. Here you can eat "choripanes", a small sandwich filled with chorizo paste and home-made mayonnaise and "leche con plátano" a milk beverage with the addition of bananas. The food is so good that the place is full almost all day.

Address: Presidente Julio Roca Blvd. with Lautaro Navarro Street

La luna (The moon): Special Cuisine made with fresh regional products. Its specialties are seafood and lamb.

Address: 1017, O'Higgins St.

Puerto Viejo Seafood and Grill: Fresh and savory food focusing on fish and seafood, and a variety of grill dishes that includes the famous Magellian lamb.

Address: 1166, O'Higgins St.

Hotel Cabo de Hornos (Cape Horn Hotel) Bar/Lounge & Restaurant: In the bar, try the famous Chilean wine, while you enjoy the warmth of a fireplace. In the restaurant, you will find the best local products prepared with the greatest delicacy. Or, if you prefer, you can enjoy international cuisine of the highest level, prepared with variations each day to create a superb and ample menu designed to satisfy the most demanding palate.

Address: 1039, Muñoz Gamero Square (Main Square St.)

El Remezón Restaurant: Magellian Ethnic Food in a warm environment.

Address: 1469, 21 de mayo St.

The city is also known for the number of Cafés that you can find, for example:

Cyrano Café: Enjoy a faboulous "Twinnings" teapot or one of its varieties of coffee or chocolate drinks with some local pastries.

Address: Bulnes St. with Maipú St.

Santo Remedio: Local Pastries. It becomes a pub in the evening, with good "tablas" and "picoteos".

Address: 040, Bulnes St.


Kamikaze Club and Madero Pub : Japanese WWII-themed nightclub may be unusual but makes for an entertaining evening. Mixture of Western / Latin and Reggaton music, played into the early hours and attended by enthusiastic locals and tourists alike. Entry includes free drink but a bit pricey at 6,000 pesos at the weekend. On top of it, you can find the "Madero Pub", with karaoke and live music.

Address: 655, Bories St.

Bull Blood: Nice environment, with great drinks and food. It has a small dance hall and karaoke all night.

Address: 0480, España Av.

Olijoe Pub: A traditional local venue, it has a big bar made of wood from the signature regional tree called "lenga".

Address: 970, Errázuriz St.

1900 Pub: In the centre of the city, its a small place nearby the Tierra Del Fuego Hotel.

Address: Bulnes St. and Colon Av.

Santino Bar e Cucina: With a stunning decor, it offers quality Italian food and good drinks. Live Music on Saturdays.

Address: 657, Colon Av.


There is an abundance of cheap hospedajes in Punta Arenas, so you never have to worry about accommodation.

  • Hostal Patagonico [1] is a familiar place for lodging. It has 5 rooms with private bathrooms. It is very quiet place. Its is placed near to Hypermarket, restaurant, Zona Franca, hospitals, videoclubs. All buses and taxis are very near. The manager is very friendly with the tourist and he helps and answers questions about Punta Arenas, city.
  • Hostal Maria Isabel, cnr Errazuriz and Senoret, Tel 228926/228553, dorms only (doubles in Arauco 1066), central location, kitchen access, free internet, lots of warm water. A friendly, well-heated place.
  • Hospedaje Costanera, cnr Quillota and Rómulo Correa 1221, Tel +56-61-240175, eMail hospedajecostanera(at), english spoken, breakfast included, kitchen access, free internet, lots of warm water, 10 min walk from bus station, laundy service. A very friendly, well-heated place. Dorm CLP 6000, Double CLP 7000.
  • Hotel Patagonia Pionera, Arauco 786 (cnr Arauco and Colon), 56-61-222045, [2]. checkin: 13:00; checkout: 12:00. Patagonia Pionera Hotel is in a quiet and safe residential area of Punta Arenas in a privileged zone as much for its nearness to downtown as for the exclusive panoramic view of the city and also the Strait of Magellian from one of the main hill of town called Cerro de la Cruz. Our hotel has been created under the concept of Boutique Hotel, unique in its kind in Punta Arenas, with the intention of receiving the visitor in a warm and personalized way, offering comfort and privacy in an authentic and magnificent European style house, result of the pioneer effort of early 20th century. Fares SGL USD$100 DBL USD$120 TPL USD$130 SUITE USD$140  edit
  • Hostal De La Patagonia, O'Higgins 730, 249970 (). Quiet, clean, comfortable mid-range place. Walking distance of Straits of Magellan and handy to Buses Pacheco terminal. Free internet and abundant hot water.  edit

Get out

Punta Arenas is the launching point for various expeditions to (relatively) nearby Antarctica.

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Simple English

Punta Arenas (lit. Sandy Point) is the capital of Magallanes y Antártica Chilena Region and the largest city in the region. It has the 1% (about 124246 people) of the total population. It is located at comuna (municipality) of Magallanes, and geographically at Brunswich Peninsula (53° 10' S 70° 56'W).

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