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Beagle Channel

The Beagle Channel is a strait separating islands of the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago, in extreme southern South America. It separates Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego from the islands Nueva, Picton, Navarino, Hoste, Londonderry, Stewart Islands and other smaller to the south. Its eastern portion is part of the border between Chile and Argentina, but the western part is completely within Chile. The west end is the Darwin Sound and the east end is Nueva Island.

The Beagle Channel is about long and is about wide at its narrowest point. To the west the Darwin Sound connects it to the Pacific Ocean. The biggest settlement on the channel is Ushuaia in Argentina followed by Puerto Williams in Chile, two of the southernmost settlements of the world.

Navigation and islands

Although it is navigable by large ships, there are safer waters to the south (Drake Passage) and to the north (Strait of Magellan).

Several small islands up to the Cape Horn were the subject of a long-running territorial dispute between Chile and Argentina; by the terms of a Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1984 between Chile and Argentina they are now part of Chile. Ships of other nations can navigate between the Strait of Magellan and Ushuaia through the Chilean Magdalena Channel and the Cockburn Channel with Chilean Pilot and 48 hours advance notice.

The Yaghan peoples settled the islands along the Murray Channel approximately 10,000 years before present. There are notable archaeological sites indicating such early Yaghan settlement at locations such as Bahia Wulaia on Isla Navarino, where the Bahia Wulaia Dome Middens are located.

Naming and Darwin visit

The channel was named after the ship HMS Beagle during its first hydrographic survey of the coasts of the southern part of South America which lasted from 1826 to 1830. During that expedition, under the overall command of the Australian Commander Phillip Parker King, the ''Beagle'scaptain Pringle Stokes committed suicide and was replaced by captain Robert FitzRoy. The ship continued the survey in the second voyage of the Beagle'' under the command of captain FitzRoy who took Charles Darwin along as a gentleman's companion, giving him opportunities as an amateur naturalist. Darwin had his first sight of glaciers when they reached the channel on 29 January 1833, and wrote in his field notebook "many glaciers beryl blue most beautiful contrasted with snow".

See also

Beagle conflict

Beagle Channel cartography since 1881


C. Michael Hogan (2008) Bahia Wulaia Dome Middens, Megalithic Portal, ed. Andy Burnham

Sergio Zagier (2006) Patagonian & Fuegian Channels Map: Chilean Fjords Cruise Chart - Cape Horn, Ushuaia, Magellan Strait'', Zagier & Urruty Publishers ISBN 1879568969

(2006) Omora Ethnobotanical Park and Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Beagle Channel

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