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Ushuaia is the capital of the Argentine province of Tierra del Fuego. It is commonly regarded as the southernmost city in the world. Ushuaia is located in a wide bay on the southern coast of the island of Tierra del Fuego, bounded on the north by the Martial mountain range and on the south by the Beagle Channel. Its population is estimated today at about 64,000. It is the only municipality in the Department of Ushuaia, which has an area of .


The city was originally named by early British missionaries using the native Yamana name for the area. Much of the early history of the city and its hinterland is described in Lucas Bridgess book Uttermost Part of the Earth (1948).

During the first half of the 20th century, the city centered around a prison built by the Argentine government to increase the Argentine population here and to ensure Argentine sovereignty over Tierra del Fuego. Spanish Historia de Ushuaia The prison was intended for repeat offenders and serious criminals, following the example of the British in Tasmania and the French in Devil's Island. Spanish Historia de Ushuaia Escape from Tierra del Fuego was similarly difficult, although two prisoners managed to escape into the surrounding area for a few weeks. The prison population thus became forced colonists and spent much of their time building the town with timber from the forest around the prison. They also built a railway to the settlement, now a tourist attraction known as the End of the World Train (Tren del Fin del Mundo), the southernmost railway in the world.

Ushuaia is surrounded by Magellanic subpolar forests. On the hills around the town, the following indigenous trees are found: Drimys winteri (Winter's bark), Maytenus magellanica (Hard-log Mayten) and several species of Nothofagus (Southern Beech).


Ushuaia is a key access point to the southern regions and a popular vacation spot for people from Buenos Aires. It receives regular flights at Ushuaia International Airport from Buenos Aires and Santiago, Chile, and its commercial pier is a major port for Antarctic tourist and research traffic.

Tourist attractions include the Tierra del Fuego National Park and Lapataia Bay. The park can be reached by highway, or via the End of the World Train (Tren del Fin del Mundo) from Ushuaia. The city has a museum of Yamana, English, and Argentine settlement, including its years as a prison colony. Wildlife attractions include local birds, penguins, seals, and orcas, many of these species colonizing islands in the Beagle Channel. There are daily bus and boat tours to Harberton, the estancia of the Bridges family. Tours also visit the Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse. Les Eclaireurs is sometimes confused with the "Lighthouse at the End of the World" (Faro del fin del mundo) made famous by Jules Verne in the novel of the same name; but the latter lies some 200 km east of Ushuaia on Isla de los Estados (Staten Island).

There are a number of ski areas nearby, including Cerro Castor and Glaciar Martial. The glacier is popular even during the summer months, when the chairlift operates in both directions. Hiking trails lead from the city's edge to the base of the glacier, which has receded dramatically over the past century, as shown in photographs on display. On Cerro Castor, a mountain located 27 km north of Ushuaia, it is possible to ski just 200 m above sea level. The summit reaches an elevation of 1057 meters (3468 ft) above sea level, and consistently cool temperatures allow the longest skiing season in South America: winter temperatures fluctuate between 0 and −5 C .

Cruise ships visiting the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) and Antarctica dock at the port, as well as Princess Cruises, Holland America, Celebrity Cruises which transit between Valparaiso, Chile, to Buenos Aires and beyond. Lindblad Expeditions, Orient Lines, MS Marco Polo, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Hurtigruten, and other ships provide expeditions to Antarctica out of Ushuaia, such as Quark Expeditions. The cruise boats periodically provide scenic cruises to Antarctica, as do expedition yachts such as S/V Seal and S/V Pelagic. Between September and April, [*] Australis Cruises operates three night and four night cruises between Ushuaia and Punta Arenas, Chile with trips ashore every day as they visit Cape Horn, the Pia Glacier, Magellenic penguin colonies, etc.

Tourists can also visit Cape Horn island (in Chilean waters) by boat or helicopter.


The Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia San Juan Bosco operates a campus in Ushuaia, with Faculties of Engineering, Economics and Humanities, and Social Sciences. The city also has twelve secondary schools, four of which also provide adult education.

The Colegio Nacional de Ushuaia is considered Ushuaia's elite secondary school, modeled after the Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires. Another very important elite secondary school is Colegio Diocesano Monsenor Miguel Angel Aleman, which takes its name after the Monsignor of the same name.


Ushuaia has two television stations, channel 13 and channel 11, and two main newspapers: Diario del fin del mundo , Reporte Austral,  and Diario Prensa,  plus several other minor publications.


Ushuaia has a subpolar oceanic climate. Temperatures average 1 C (33 F) in the coldest month, and 9 C (48 F) in the warmest month. The record low is −20 C (July), and record high 31 C (87.8 F) (December). The record low ever recorded in summer is −6 C (21 F) (February). A similar climate is found in Torshavn, Faroe Islands; Dutch Harbor, Alaska; Reykjavik, Iceland; and Stanley, Falkland Islands.

Despite receiving only of precipitation yearly on average, Ushuaia is very humid. On average the city experiences 160 days of rain or snow a year, with many cloudy and foggy days. The southwestern winds make the outer islands wetter, reaching at Isla de los Estados (Staten Island). Because temperatures are cool throughout the year, there is little evaporation. Snow is common in winter and regularly occurs throughout the year.

Strong winds whip the town. Trees in Ushuaia tend to follow the wind direction, and are therefore called "flag-trees", for their uni-directional growth pattern.

Southernmost city

Ushuaia has long been described as the Southernmost City in the World. While there are settlements farther south, the only one of any notable size is Puerto Williams, Chile, a settlement of some 2000 residents (mostly families of the nearby military bases) Su poblacion, de aproximadamente 1.700 habitantes, esta compuesta casi en su totalidad, por personal de la Armada y sus familiares. that also calls itself the world's southernmost city. A 1998 article in the newspaper Clarin reported that the designation "Southernmost city in the world" had been transferred to Puerto Williams by a joint committee from Argentina and Chile, but this was denied by Argentine authorities, Argentine Congress Nov 11,1998 Dictamen CXXXVII : se expresa preocupacion ante la difusion de la informacion publicada sobre el traspaso del slogan que caracteriza a la ciudad de Ushuaia como la ciudad mas austral del mundo, a la poblacion chilena de Puerto William and the Secretariat of Tourism of Argentina continues to use the slogan in official documentation and web sites.

Ushuaia qualifies as a city, defined as a "center of population, commerce, and culture; a town of significant size and importance". It has a fully functional hospital, an international airport, and primary and secondary schools, as well as institutions of higher learning. Its 64,000 residents enjoy an organized public transportation system and a functioning municipality, and its industrial sector, led by the Renacer Grundig electronics plant, is among the largest in Patagonia. Ushuaia also serves as the provincial capital of Tierra del Fuego.

History of settlement

The Selknam Indians, also called the Ona, first arrived in Tierra del Fuego about 10,000 years ago. The southern group of the Selknam, the Yamana, occupied what is now Ushuaia, living in continual conflict with the northern inhabitants of the island. The British ship HMS Beagle under the command of Captain Robert FitzRoy first reached the channel on January 29 1833 during its maiden voyage surveying Tierra del Fuego.

The name Ushuaia first appears in letters and reports of the South American Missionary Society in England. The British missionary Waite Hockin Stirling became the first European to live in Ushuaia when he stayed with the Yamana people between the 18th of January and mid-September 1869. In 1870 more British missionaries arrived to establish a small settlement. The following year the first marriage was performed. During 1872, 36 baptisms and 7 marriages and the first European birth (Thomas Despard Bridges) in Tierra del Fuego were registered.

The first house constructed in Ushuaia was a pre-assembled 3 bedroom home prepared in the Falkland Islands in 1870 for Reverend Thomas Bridges. One bedroom was for the Bridges family, a second for a Yamana married couple, and a third served as the chapel. During the 1880s many gold prospectors came to Ushuaia following rumours of large gold fields, which proved to be false.

During 1873 Juan and Clara Lawrence, the first Argentine citizens to visit Ushuaia, arrived to teach school. That same year the Argentine President Julio Argentino Roca promoted the establishment of a penal colony for re-offenders, modeled after Tasmania, Australia, in an effort to secure permanent residents from Argentina and to help establish Argentine sovereignty over all of Tierra del Fuego. Spanish Historia de Ushuaia But only after the Boundary treaty of 1881 between Chile and Argentina did formal efforts get under way to establish the township and its prison. The prison was formally announced in an Executive Order by Roca in 1896.

On the 12th of October 1884, as part of the South Atlantic Expedition, Commodore Augusto Lasserre established the sub-division of Ushuaia, with the missionaries and naval officers signing the Act of Ceremony. Don Feliz M Paz was named Governor of Tierra del Fuego and in 1885 named Ushuaia as its capital. In 1885 the territory police was organized under Antonio A Romero with headquarters also in Ushuaia. But it was not until 1904 that the Federal Government of Argentina recognized Ushuaia as the capital of Tierra del Fuego.

Ushuaia suffered several epidemics, including typhus, whooping cough, and measles, that decimated the native population. But because the Yamana were not included in census data the exact numbers lost are not known. The first census was held in 1893 with 113 men and 36 women living in Ushuaia. The population grew to 1,558 by the 1914 census. By 1911 the Yamana had all practically disappeared, so the mission was closed.

In 1896 the prison received its first inmates, mainly re-offenders and dangerous prisoners transferred from Buenos Aires but also some political prisoners. A separate military prison opened in 1903 at the nearby Puerto Golondrina. The two prisons merged in 1910, and that combined complex still stands today. It operated until 1947, when President Juan Peron closed it by executive order in response to the many reports of abuse and unsafe practices. Most of the guards stayed in Ushuaia, while the prisoners were relocated to other jails farther north. After the prison closed, it became a part of the [[:es:Base Naval Ushuaia|Base Naval Ushuaia]] , functioning as a storage and office facility until the early 1990s. Later it was converted into the current Museo Maritimo de Ushuaia.

TV programme

''Ushuaia, le magazine de l'Extremewas the name of a television program, presented by Nicolas Hulot and broadcast on the French TV channel TF1 from September 1987 to June 1995. The show is known in English as Ushuaia: The Ultimate Adventure'', and this language's version was hosted by Perri Peltz and was shown on NBC, CNBC, and international affiliates of the Discovery Channel.

See also

Beagle (beer)

Beagle Channel

Beagle conflict

Southernmost settlements

Tierra del Fuego National Park

External links

Municipality of Ushuaia (official website)

Online community of residents

Wikitravel Page about Ushuaia

Interactive city map (requires Flash)

[http://www.lawebdeushuaia.com.ar/ Travel Guide and Business Ushuaia

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