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The coast near Puerto Hambre.
Puerto Hambre, originally Ciudad del Rey Don Felipe, also known as Puerto del Hambre and at one time as Port Famine, is a historic settlement site at Buena Bay on the west side of the Strait of Magellanmarker approximately 58 km (36 miles) south of Punta Arenasmarker in the Región de Magallanes y la Antártica Chilena, Patagonia, Chilemarker.

Puerto Hambre lies halfway between the South Pole and Chile's northern border with Peru. Since Chile claims its Antarctic territories extending all the way to the pole, this point is sometimes called the geographical center of Chile. A monument near the site marks this midpoint.

History

Monument at the site of Puerto Hambre.
The Spanishmarker settlement was founded in March 1584 by Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa as the city of Rey Don Felipe with around 300 settlers, but conditions were harsh and local vegetation was sparse. This attempt to colonise the shores of the Strait ended tragically when the settlers starved or froze to death, and when the Englishmarker navigator, Sir Thomas Cavendish landed at the site in 1587 he found only ruins of the settlement. He renamed the place Port Famine, and under this name it later became a base used by the Britishmarker Royal Navy. The name was subsequently translated into Spanish as Puerto Hambre or Puerto del Hambre, and these names are still in use.

The Royal Navy hydrographic survey ship HMS Beagle under Captain Pringle Stokes was surveying Patagonia and Tierra del Fuegomarker when he fell into a deep depression, and at Port Famine in August 1828 he locked himself in his cabin and shot himself. He was buried in the cementerio inglés and his grave is still marked on nautical charts. Temporary command of HMS Beagle was given to the Executive Officer of the Beagle, Lieutenant W.G. Skyring, then taken over by Flag Lieutenant Robert FitzRoy. FitzRoy became captain of the Beagle for its second survey expedition, and as a companion on the voyage he took the young naturalist Charles Darwin. They visited Port Famine a number of times between 1832 and 1834 during the second voyage of HMS Beagle.

On 2 May 1843 the first twenty Germanmarker immigrants reached the port of Puerto Hambre. In February 1968 the ruins of Puerto del Hambre were made a National Monument.

In 1843 Juan Williams Rebolledo built Fuerte Bulnesmarker approximately 2 km (1 mile) further south at the Peninsula called Punta Santa Ana (Santa Ana Point) as a fort to take possession of the Strait and the Patagonian lands for Chile. A reconstruction of the original fort has been built complete with the church, chaplain's quarters, jail, powder magazine, post office and stables.

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