Friday, 18 January 2013

A geographical jewel

Yes, I think the Strait of Magellan  is a jewel, a geographical jewel.
The strait is the only natural passage between the two greatest oceans in the world. The Pacific is the largest and deepest ocean, 165.25 million square kilometres in area, it covers about 46% of the Earth´s surface. And the Atlantic is the second largest one with an area of 106.400,000 square kilometres which covers about 20% of the Earth´s surface. And the Strait of Magellan is 583Km and was the scenery behind of the first voyage around the world, by Ferdinand Magellan. Today it is the star of the tourism in Region of Magellan and Chilean Antarctica.

The western side of the Strait is a peninsula, Brunswick Peninsula, named by English explorers in Honor of Frederick William Duke of Brunswick- Wolfenbuttel, who joined Duke of Wellington in the Quatre Bras Battle against Napoleon, in 1815; the Duke of Brunswick died in battle.
Punta Arenas is the only city in the peninsula which is also the capital of Region of Magellan. It was funded in 1848 and its population is more than 131,000 inhabitants.

The oriental side of the Strait is an archipelago, The Land of Fire Archipelago (Tierra del Fuego), named by Ferdinand Magellan in 1520. When navigating through the Strait he saw columns of smoke coming from the island, actually he first named it Land of Smoke, but when he came to shore and met the Aborigines he observed that they used to set big fires around their camp to keep them warm, so he changed the name to Land of Fire.

The biggest island of the archipelago is The Great Island Land of Fire (Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego) which is the border between Chile and Argentina; its western side, 61.43% of the island, is in Chile, while the eastern side, 38.57% of the island, is in Argentina. The island has an area of 47.992 km2 which makes it the 29th largest island in the world. The archipelago also contains an important number of smaller islands that draw between them a curious form of dragon´s tail.

Punta Dúngenes is a headland at the eastern entrance of the Strait which marks the border between Chile and Argentina. Although it is entirely under Chilean jurisdiction is surrounded by Argentine waters but in accordance with Chile and Argentina, international treaties of 1881 and 1984 allow access to major shipping nations from and to the eastern mouth of the Strait, also Chile promised freedom of sailing through and neutrality within the Strait.

From a navigation point of view the Strait of Magellan has three area of interest: the first and second narrows and Paso Tortuoso. Between the narrows there is a tourist attraction: Santa Magdalena and Santa Marta Islands which are part of the Monumento Natural Los Pinguinos ( The Penguins Natural Monument).
Magdalena Island is one of the largest penguin colonies in South Chile, it has a population of 69.000 penguins couples (Magellanic Penguin) and different species of birds and mammals that come to the island for breeding.
While in Marta Island breed a colony of cormorant (King Shag) and Patagonian Sea Lions as they prefer set their nests on the rocks.

Another tourist attraction is the lighthouse in Magdalena Island which is a Historical Monument. The lighthouse was built in 1901 and its light has a range of 10 nautical miles; its iron tower rises 13.5m above the island´s highest point where the tourist can have a magnificent view of the island and its surrounding and also visit the museum for an interesting exhibition about the History of navigation and maritime signalling of the Strait, the History of the lighthouse, maps, pictures, old lighthouse equipments, and more.

Visit this Blogger to know more about the History and interesting places surrounding the Strait, people, anecdotes, events, photos, videos and more.
Next post: "The Magellan Strait Costline, Punta Arenas".

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