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Tierra del Fuego or TF (Spanish for "Land of Fire", ; ) is an archipelago off the southernmost tip of the South American mainland, across the Strait of Magellanmarker. The southern point of the archipelago forms Cape Hornmarker.

History



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 Islandmarker within the islands of Tierra del Fuego.

The name Tierra del Fuego derives from the Portuguesemarker 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. 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 Londonmarker and were to an extent celebrities. The surviving three returned to Tierra del Fuego with 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.18.507,3 km2 belongs to Argentina (38,57% of total surface), 29.484,7 km2 belongs to Chile (61,43% of Tierra del Fuego's total surface).

Climate

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 a year. Temperatures are steady throughout the year: in Ushuaia they hardly surpass in summers and average 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 islandsmarker, Icelandmarker, Alaska Peninsulamarker and Faroe Islandsmarker.

Flora

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

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. Very delicious 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. 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 Estadosmarker, Navarino Island and the north of Hoste Islandmarker. At altitudes above , dwarf nothofagus communities are found. Going further south, Wollaston Islandsmarker and the south of Hoste Island are covered by subantarctic tundra.

Image:Drimys winteri.jpg|Drimys winteri flowersImage:Nothofagus antarctica D.jpg|Nothofagus antarcticaImage:Nothofagus pumilio.jpg|Nothofagus pumilioImage:Nothofagus betuloides.jpg|Nothofagus betuloides

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.

Fauna

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.

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 , particularly in rivers such as the Rio Grande and San Pablo and in the Lago Fagnanomarker. Much of this water is private, catch and release and fly fishing only.

Economy

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.

See also



Notes

  1. C. Michael Hogan (2008) Bahia Wulaia Dome Middens, Megalithic Portal, ed. Andy Burnham
  2. 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
  3. Højgaard, A., J. Jóhansen, and S. Ødum (eds) 1989. A century of tree planting in the Faroe Islands. Føroya Frodskaparfelag, Torshavn.


References

  • 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, Belgiummarker. ISBN 90-209-4040-6
  • Moss, Chris. Time Out magazine Nov 19-25: www.timeout.com/travel/features/469/tierra-del-fuego


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