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"Land of Fire" redirects here. For info on the fictional nation, see World of Naruto.


Cuernos del Paine from Lake Pehoé.jpg
Eastern Patagonia
Western Patagonia
Tierra del Fuego
Valdivian forests
Magellanic forests
Patagonian steppe
National Parks
Nahuel Huapi
Torres del Paine
Cape Horn
Political divisions
Palena Province
Aisén Region
Magallanes Region
Neuquén Province
Río Negro Province
Chubut Province
Santa Cruz Province
Tierra del Fuego Province

Tierra del Fuego or TF (Spanish for "Land of Fire", English pronunciation: /tiːˈɛərə dɛl ˈfweɪɡoʊ]/; Spanish: [ˈtjera ðel ˈfweɣo]) is an archipelago off the southernmost tip of the South American mainland, across the Strait of Magellan. The southern point of the archipelago forms Cape Horn.



Satellite image of Tierra del Fuego
The city of Ushuaia

Earliest humans settlement occurred more than 10,000 years ago. The Yaghan people were some of the earliest known humans settling in Tierra del Fuego, with certain recognizable archeological sites at locations such as Navarino Island within the islands of Tierra del Fuego.[1]

The name Tierra del Fuego derives from the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan sailing for the Spanish Crown, who was the first European to visit these lands in 1520. He believed he was seeing the many fires (fuego in Spanish) of the Yaghan, which were visible from the sea and that the "Indians" were waiting in the forests to ambush his armada.[2] Originally called the "Land of Smoke," it was later changed to "Land of Fire."

Four native Fuegians, including "Jemmy Button" (Orundellico), were brought from Tierra del Fuego by Robert FitzRoy on his first voyage with the HMS 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 in the Beagle with Charles Darwin, who made extensive notes about his visit to the islands.

According to the Boundary treaty of 1881 Tierra del Fuego was divided between Argentina and Chile; previously it was claimed by both countries in its entirety.


Tierra del Fuego

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 km2 (18,572 sq mi), and a group of smaller islands.

The main island is split between two countries: 18,507.3 km2 (7,146 sq mi) (38.57% of total) belongs to Argentina, while 29,484.7 km2 (11,384 sq mi) (61.43% of total) belongs to Chile.

Half of this island, and the islands west and south of it, are part of the Magallanes y Antártica Chilena Region, the capital and chief town of which is Punta Arenas, situated on the mainland across the strait. The biggest Chilean towns are Porvenir, capital of the Chilean Province of Tierra del Fuego, on the main island, and Puerto Williams, on Navarino Island, being the capital of the Antártica Chilena Province. Puerto Toro lies a few kilometers south of Puerto Williams and is the southernmost village in the world.

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

The Darwin Range ends in the Mount Bove; this range contains many glaciers that reach the ocean. Mount Darwin is the highest peak at 2,488 metres (8,163 ft).


The climate in this region is very inhospitable. It is a subpolar oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfc) with short, cool summers and long, wet, moderate winters: the precipitation averages 3,000 mm (118 in) a year. Temperatures are steady throughout the year: in Ushuaia they hardly surpass 9 °C (50 °F) in summers and average 0 °C (30 °F) in winters. Snowfall can occur in summer. The cold and wet summers help preserve the ancient glaciers. The southernmost islands possess subantarctic climate typical of tundra that makes the growth of trees impossible. Some areas in the interior have a polar climate. Regions in the world with similar climates to southern Tierra del Fuego are: Aleutian islands, Iceland, Alaska Peninsula and Faroe Islands.


Only 30% of the islands have forests, which are classified as Magellanic sub polar; the northeast is made up by steppe and cool semi desert.

There are six species of tree found in Tierra del Fuego: Canelo or Winter's Bark (Drimys winteri), Maytenus magellanica, Pilgerodendron uviferum the southernmost conifer in the world , and three kinds of Southern Beech; Nothofagus antarctica, Nothofagus pumilio and the evergreen Nothofagus betuloides. Fruits grow in open spaces in these forests, such as beach strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis var. chiloensis forma chiloensis) and calafate (Berberis buxifolia), which were and are collected respectively by Indians and countrymen[3]. These forests are unique in the world for having developed in a climate with such cold summers. Tree cover extends very close to the southernmost tip of South America. Winds are so strong that trees in wind-exposed areas grow twisted by the force of winds, and people call the trees "flag-trees" for the shape that they need to take in the fight with the wind. Tree vegetation extends as far south as the Isla de los Estados, Navarino Island and the north of Hoste Island. At altitudes above 500 m (1,640 ft), dwarf nothofagus communities are found. Going further south, Wollaston Islands and the south of Hoste Island are covered by subantarctic tundra.

Forests from Tierra del Fuego have expanded beyond local importance; they have been a source of trees that have been planted abroad in places with practically the same climate but which were originally devoid of trees like Faroe Islands and nearby archipelagos. Most species were gathered from the coldest places in Tierra del Fuego, sites mainly with tundra borders. This effort resulted in positive changes, as the heavy winds and cool summers in the Faroe Islands did not allow the growth of trees from other regions in the world. The imported trees are used ornamentally, as curtains against wind, and for fighting erosion caused by storms and grazing in the Faroe Islands.[4]


Sea lions at the Beagle Channel near Ushuaia

Among the most notable animals in the archipelago that are found: parakeets, seagulls, guanacos, foxes, kingfishers, condors, owls, and firecrown hummingbirds. North American beaver, introduced in the 1940s, have proliferated and caused considerable damage to the island's forests.[5]

Like mainland Chile and Argentina to the north, the archipelago boasts some of the finest trout fishing in the world. Sea Run Brown Trout often exceed 9 kg (20 lb), particularly in rivers such as the Rio Grande and San Pablo and in the Lago Fagnano. Much of this water is private, catch and release and fly fishing only.


The main industries are oil, natural gas, sheep farming and ecotourism. On the Argentine side there are several electronic companies established. Tierra del Fuego is also home to the small brewing company Cervecería Fueguina, which produces three beers under the Beagle brand name.[6]

See also


  1. ^ C. Michael Hogan (2008) Bahia Wulaia Dome Middens, Megalithic Portal, ed. Andy Burnham
  2. ^ Bergreen, Laurence (2003). Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe. HarperCollins Publishers. pp. 179. ISBN 0-06-093638.  
  3. ^ Martínez Crovetto, Raúl. 1968. Estudios Etnobotánicos. Nombres de plantas y su utilidad según los indios Onas de Tierra del Fuego. Revista de la Facultad de Agronomía y Veterinaria de la Universidad del Nordeste, Corrientes, Argentina
  4. ^ Højgaard, A., J. Jóhansen, and S. Ødum (eds) 1989. A century of tree planting in the Faroe Islands. Føroya Frodskaparfelag, Torshavn.
  5. ^ Strieker, Gary (1999-07-09). "Argentina eager to rid island of beavers". Cable News Network. Retrieved 2007-06-30.  
  6. ^ "Cerveceria Beagle". Retrieved 2008-05-30.  


  • 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. Harper Collins Publishers, London. Reprint: 2003.
  • Bollen, Patrick. 2000. "Tierra del Fuego" B/W Photobook. Lannoo Publishers, Tielt, Belgium. ISBN 90-209-4040-6

External links

Coordinates: 54°00′S 70°00′W / 54°S 70°W / -54; -70

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

South America : Tierra del Fuego
For other places with the same name, see Tierra del Fuego (disambiguation).
Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego
Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego [1] is an archipelago off the south of South America, separated from the mainland by the Magellan Strait. The 73,753 km² archipelago was divided between Argentina and Chile in 1881. The eastern part belongs to Argentina (the Territory of Tierra del Fuego) and its main towns are Rio Grande and Ushuaia. The western part belongs to Chile (Magallanes province) and its main towns are Porvenir and Puerto Williams. Cape Horn is at the southernmost part of the archipelago, in Chilean land.

  • Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego - The main island, with an area of around 48,000 km², is commonly referred to as Tierra del Fuego or as Isla Grande. Shaped like a triangle (with its base at the Beagle Channel), the island's main cities are Ushuaia and Rio Grande, both on the eastern, Argentine side.

The five medium sized islands and numerous small islands, islets and rocks include:

  • The islands to the south of the Beagle Channel - Hoste, Navarin, Gordon, Londonderry, Stewart and Wollaston.
  • The western group of islands - Clarence Island, Desolation Land and Dawson Island.
  • Ushuaia (Argentina) - Tourist centre of Tierra del Fuego, and base for most excursions, treks and trips to Antarctica. Arguably the most southerly city in the world.
  • Rio Grande (Argentina) - The economic capital of Argentine Tierra del Fuego, its industries include oil, textiles and cattle breeding.
  • Porvenir (Chile) - A small city and base for crossing the Magellan Strait to the mainland.
  • Puerto Williams (Chile) - The only settlement on Naravino Island, and arguably the most southerly town in the world.


"Tierra del Fuego" (Spanish: "Land of Fire") got its name from Ferdinand Magellan who, on passing the archipelago in 1520, spotted a number of fires burning along the coastline. These fires may have been made by the archipelago's aboriginal inhabitants: the Ona, Alakaluf and Yahgan (commonly called Yamana). Four aboriginals were taken from Tierra del Fuego in 1830 by Robert Fitzroy, and were sailed to Britain to meet the King. The three survivors later returned to Tierra del Fuego on the Beagle, with Charles Darwin, who believed the native Fuegans to be "the missing link".

The arrival of missionaries, introduction of sheep farming and the discovery of gold in the 1880s led to European, Argentine, and Chilean immigrants, which gradually killed off the native Fuegans. An excellent book on the history of the Yamana and their demise is The Uttermost Part of the Earth by E. Lucas Bridges, the son of one of the early missionaries. His father, Thomas Bridges, documented what he could of the Yamana language and found that it had a larger vocabulary than the English language.

Today, the economy is based on petroleum, tourism, textiles, electronics and, to a decreasing degree, sheep-farming.

The western parts of the archipelago form the southernmost tip of the Andes range. The eastern parts are an extension of the Patagonian plateau. Based in the south of Patagonia, the climate is cold but warmer than many assume; in winter, the average temperature is -2. In summer, it can climb to 30, although in reality it rarely rises far beyond 10. There are frequent high winds and much rainfall, especially in the coastal areas.

Get in

There are regular Aerolineas Argentinas flights from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia and Rio Grande. Air services also link major settlements to Punta Arenas in Chile. Buses from all over Argentina enter Tierra del Fuego via Rio Gallegos. NB Buses running from Rio Gallegos to Ushuaia all pass through Chilean land, so include two border crossings. A regular ship, the ferry Melinka, links Porvenir and Punta Arenas, and naval vessels supply Ushuaia and Isla Navarino, Chile.

Get around

Roads are poor in Tierra del Fuego, and, apart from the tourist tour train, there are no railways. There is little public transport. However, tours / transport can be booked through the Tourist Office (on San Martin, Ushuaia) or through many of the hostels. Taxis are another option, costing, for example, Ar$7 to get from the city centre to either the airport or Glaciar Martial. There are also several car / bicycle hire companies in Ushuaia.

  • Museo Marítimo - Located in Ushuaia's old prison, this excellent museum displays a collection of the history of Tierra del Fuego.
  • Estancia Haberton - Open only in the summer months, Estancia Haberton is a worthwhile trip for those interested in the Bridges family and their role in the local history.
  • Hike the Glacier Martial - Provided that you wear comfortable shoes and have the patience, a hike up the Glacier Martial will provide a very beautiful view of Ushuaia and the Beagle Chanel. There is also a single ski slope open during the winter months, and ski hire is available from the site. The cheapest way to get there is by taxi from Ushuaia, which costs Ar$7.
  • Catamaran trips - Catamaran trips will take you around the Beagle channel and give you nice views of the mountains, cormorants, sea lions and penguins.
  • Cerro Castor - This centre for winter sports offers skiing and snowboarding. Nearby, you can also ride snowcats or husky sleighs during the winter.
  • Kayak the Beagle Channel - Kayaks can be hired near Ushuaia's Aeroparque, on the promontory.
  • The Penguin Rookery
  • Fin del Mundo Train- A steam train running from Ushuaia to the national park.
  • Take a cruises - Several cruises operate from Ushuaia, taking in the Beagle Channel and some islands, eg Los Lobos Island.
  • Hike around Lakes Escondido and Fagnano - Beautiful spots to walk, relax, fish, or ride a horse.
  • Take a trip to Cabo San Pablo, Ojo del Albino or Laguna Esmeralda - These sites offer more stunning and rugged scenery.


A regional specialty is King Crab, called centolla in Spanish, and seafood is usually excellent. Otherwise, local cuisine follows the tendencies of Chile and Argentina in general. Fruit and vegetables have to be transported from thousands of miles away and, as such, are rarely tasty.


Ushuaia has several bars and one nightclub.

Stay safe

Crime rates on Tierra del Fuego are very low. If hiking or trekking, it is important to take warm, waterproof gear.

Get out

Flights can be booked from the Aerolineas office in Ushuaia. Buses to Buenos Aires and other destinations (apart from Puerto Natales) all stop at Rio Gallegos. It can be cheaper to just buy a ticket to Rio Gallegos and purchase an onward ticket from there.

This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




From Spanish tierra del fuego, land of fire.

Proper noun

Tierra del Fuego


Tierra del Fuego

  1. One of the provinces in Argentina (southern South America). Home of Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, close to Antarctica.

See also


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