Tierra del Fuego is an archipelago off the south of South America. The archipelago consists of the main island, Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, with an area of 48,100 km2 (18,572 sq mi). It also contains the group of many islands, including Cape Horn and the Diego Ramírez Islands

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 the southernmost part of the archipelago, in Chilean land.

History of Tierra del Fuego

The name Tierra del Fuego derives from the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, sailing for the Spanish Crown, in 1520 he was the first European to visit these lands. In 1525 Francisco de Hoces was the first to speculate that it was one or more islands rather than part of what was then called Terra Australis.

In 1881, Tierra del Fuego was divided between Argentina and Chile; previously, it had been claimed in its entirety by both countries. In 1945 a division of Chilean CORFO (Spanish acronym for Production Development Corporation) engaged in oil exploration made a breakthrough discovery of oil in northern Tierra del Fuego.

In the 1960s and 1970s, sovereignty claims by Argentina over Picton, Lennox and Nueva Islands in Tierra del Fuego led the two countries in December 1978 to the brink of war. In response to the threat of an Argentine invasion, minefields were deployed and bunkers built on the Chilean side in some areas of Tierra del Fuego. International border issues in the area were not resolved until 1984 and are still the subject of some discussion.

Interesting Facts of Tierra del Fuego

1. It is an archipelago off the southernmost tip of the South American mainland.

2. The name “Tierra del Fuego” comes from the Spanish explorer’s first sight of the archipelago.

3. The archipelago consists of a big island, Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego and a number of smaller islands.

4. The earliest known human settlement in this area dates to around 8,000 B.C. Europeans first explored the islands during Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition of 1520.

5. The Archipelago (and the main island) is divided between Argentina and Chile. About 127.000 people live in the part belonging to Argentina, about 8.000 in that belonging to Chile.

6. The biggest cities on the main island are Rio Grande, 57.000 people, and Ushuaia in the Argentine part, and Porvenir with 5.700 inhabitants in the Chilenan part.

7. In the late 1800s, the archipelago was the site of a gold rush, as thousands of immigrants from many European countries, including a large number of Croatians, arrived here to seek their fortunes.

8. Home to birds ranging from Magellanic woodpeckers, condors, and Austral parakeets, to mammals such as guanaco, Patagonian foxes, and beavers, a visit here is guaranteed to include sightings of a wide range of animals.

Top Destinations In Tierra del Fuego

Museo Marítimo & Museo del Presidio


Tierra del Fuego Images

Parque Yatana


Images of Tierra del Fuego

Museo del Fin del Mundo


Tierra del Fuego Photos

Casa Beban


Photos of Tierra del Fuego

Iglesia de la Merced


Tierra del Fuego Pictures

Legislatura Provincial


Pictures of Tierra del Fuego