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Argentina and Chile
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Argentina and Chile

November 28, 2006

The southernmost portion of South America is shown here in this MODIS Terra image from November 18, 2006. This region, known as Tierra del Fuego, is actually an archipelago separated from the rest of South American by the Strait of Magellan. The southern point of the archipelago forms Cape Horn.

Half of the main island in the archipelago, as well as the islands west and south of it, belong to the country of Chile. The eastern portion of the archipelago of islands belongs to Argentina.

The name "Tierra del Fuego", meaning "Land of Fire" was given to the area by explorer Ferdinand Magellan - the first European to pass the area in 1520.

The Strait of Magellan his a great deal of historical significance. Until the Panama Canal was built, it was the only alternative to the Drake Passage, for tralveing between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. The Drake Passage, between Cape Horn and the South Shetland Islands of Antarctica, is hazardous, due to strong winds, large waves, and icebergs. The Strait of Magellan is challenging to navigate, but the waters are sheltered.



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