Patagonia refers to the part of South America, which is located south of the rivers Río Colorado and Río Bío Bío in Argentina in Chile and north of the Strait of Magellan. A precise meaning established demarcation does not exist.

Geographical Description

Patagonia is divided into two by the Andes separate large landscapes. It consists of western Patagonia, the predominantly belongs to Chile, and mostly belonging to Eastern Patagonia Argentina. Often, the south of the Strait of Magellan located Tierra del Fuego is expected to Patagonia. Patagonia is very sparsely populated. The average population density is about two people per square kilometer, in Santa Cruz even under one inhabitant per square kilometer.

The Argentine Patagonia with an area of ​​765 720 square kilometers consists of five provinces ( from north to south ):

  • Neuquén
  • Province of Rio Negro
  • Chubut
  • Santa Cruz
  • Tierra del Fuego

Includes The Chilean part of Patagonia

  • The XIV Region ( Región de los Ríos ), with the provinces of Valdivia and Ranco
  • The Tenth Region ( Región de los Lagos) with the provinces of Chiloé, Llanquihue, Osorno and Palena
  • The XI. Region ( Región de Aysen del General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo) with the provinces Aisen, Capitán Prat, Coihaique and General Carrera
  • The XII. Region ( Región de Magallanes y Antártica Chilena de la ) with the provinces Magallanes, Tierra del Fuego, Última Esperanza Antártica Chilena and

Landscape and Climate

Scenic Patagonia is characterized by steppe-like plains, the pampas. The Chilean part of Patagonia is characterized by the moist, cool climate of the western Andes and by the corresponding Valdivian rainforest. The Argentine portion lies in the rain shadow of the Andes and is very dry. Characteristic is the everlasting strong wind. In the West, the Chilean ice, the largest contiguous mass of ice outside the two poles and Greenland. In the west part of the southern section of the Andes to Patagonia, in the south of the sub-Antarctic island of Tierra del Fuego region.

In Patagonia there are two internationally well-known national parks, the Chilean National Park Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares National Park on the Argentinean side. The latter was set in 1981 by UNESCO on the World Heritage List and makes occasional spectacular crashes of the Perito Moreno glacier talked about.

In the southern Patagonian Andes, the only major cold temperate land area is in the southern hemisphere of the earth, while the rest of Patagonia mostly belongs to hot temperate zone.


Characteristic representatives of the Patagonian wildlife are the guanaco, the Nandu and the Andean condor. The numerous lakes of Patagonia are home to flamingos and many other water birds.

Patagonia is home to the scoring of the pit vipers Patagonia - lance (Bothrops ammodytoides ). It is the southernmost living snake.


Tourism in Patagonia has become in Chilean main source of income. More than 80,000 visitors were counted in the Torres del Paine National Park in 2003. These are mainly focused on the summer months of November to February. Also, the Los Glaciares National Park is visited by many tourists.

Another source of income on the Argentine side is sheep farming. Between 1930 and 1970, initially booming business with the wool, but later the price dropped to last about 0.75 € per kg. 1970 also broke from the volcano Cerro Hudson, after many farmers had to abandon their farms ( estancias ). As a result bought on foreign traders, including the fashion producers Benetton, old estancias and renewed it.

In the Argentinean side of the oil production ( around Neuquén and Comodoro Rivadavia ), power generation (Neuquén ) and fruit growing in the fertile oasis valleys of the Río Negro and Río Chubut are still significant.


The name Patagonia comes back to the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who the indigenous Tehuelche Indians, where he during his hibernation in 1520 in the region of Tierra del Fuego (Spanish: tierra del fuego ) met, probably due to their large stature, gave the name Patagones.

Here, he leaned against a fictional character, the giant Pathagón from the Novelas de Caballería (Chapter Prima Leon ) on. This Novelas formed a collection of tales of chivalry, have gained great respect in those days. Unclear is the name origin itself, it may be derived from " big feet " (Spanish: patones ) because pata ", paw feet " in Spanish means. The only information for the events during the travel Magellan come from the diaries of his traveling companion Pigafetta.