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Zona Austral, the Southernmost Region of Chile

54.5S 70.8W

October 7th, 2009 Category: Snapshots

Chile - August 25th, 2009

Chile - August 25th, 2009

The Zona Austral is one of the five natural regions of continental Chile, corresponding to the Chilean portion of Patagonia. It is surrounded by the Southern Zone and the Chacao Channel to the North, the Pacific Ocean and Drake’s Passage to the South and West, and the Andean mountains and Argentina to the East.

Here, the southernmost parts of the Zona Austral at the tip of the South American continent are visible despite some cloud cover. In the far south (Chile Austral), which extends from Chacao Channel to Cape Horn, the Andes and the South Pacific meet. This district of the country is mountainous, heavily-forested and inhospitable.

The deeply-indented coast line is filled with islands which preserve the general outline of the continent southward to the Fuegian archipelago, the outside groups forming a continuation of the Chilean Coast Range.

The heavy and continuous rainfall throughout this region, especially in the latitude of ChiloƩ, gives rise to a large number of rivers and lakes. Farther south this excessive precipitation is in the form of snow in the Andes, forming glaciers at a comparatively low level which in places discharge into the inlets and bays of the sea.

The extreme southern part of this region extends eastward to the Atlantic entrance to the Strait of Magellan, and includes the greater part of the Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego with all the islands lying south and west of it.

There are some comparatively level stretches of country immediately north of the Strait, partly forested and partlygrassy plains, where sheep farming has been established with some degree of success, but the greater part of this extreme southern territory is mountainous, cold, wet and inhospitable. The perpetual snow-line here descends to 3,500 to 4,000 ft. above sea-level, and the forest growth does not rise above an altitude of 1,000 to 1,500 ft.

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