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Puerto Natales is a city in Chilean Patagonia, located northwest of Punta Arenas and is the final passenger port of call for the Navimag ferry sailing from Puerto Montt into the Senoret Channel as well as the primary transit point for travelers to Torres del Paine National Park, Chile. It is the capital of both the commune of the same name and the Ultima Esperanza Province of Magallanes and Antartica Chilena Region.
Ultima Esperanza Sound, originally inhabited by the Kawesqar tribe or Alacaluf and the Aoniken or Tehuelche, was sailed in 1557 by Juan Ladrilleros, a sailor who was looking for the Strait of Magellan. The city was settled by Germans, British, Croats, and later by Chilean people, with a substantial number coming from the Island of Chiloe, all attracted by the sheep-raising industry. The city was formally founded under the government of Ramon Barros Luco on May 31, 1911. Nowadays, one of the most important activities is tourism although cattle production and the fishery industries are also significant.
History and current status
The Province where the city is located was baptized under the name Ultima Esperanza (Last Hope) by the sailor Juan Ladrilleros, who was looking for the Strait of Magellan in the year 1557. It was his last hope to find the Strait. After three centuries, in 1830 a new expedition sailed through the fjords and channels of Ultima Esperanza. It was the British expedition of the frigate HMS Beagle. Some the expeditioners are remembered by several place-names in the area.
In 1870, the interest in these lands was rekindled. Among the daring travelers who ventured these desolated lands, was Santiago Zamora also known as 'Baqueano' Zamora. He discovered the lake district of the Torres del Paine area and many wild horses or 'baguales'. Another was the English traveller and writer Lady Florence Dixie, commemorated in the town's present-day Hotel Lady Florence Dixie.
Puerto Natales was founded on May, 1911 as a port for the sheep industry. During the last half of the 20th century the sheep industry declined and many people from Puerto Natales started to work in the coal mines of Rio Turbio in Argentina. During the zenith of the sheep industry in Patagonia, two large "frigorificos" or freezer plants, were constructed in the Natales area, though only one has survived. The plant at Puerto Bories, about 4 km from downtown Puerto Natales, was a project of the Sociedad Explotadora de Tierra del Fuego. Historians Duncan Campbell and Gladys Grace have provided an extensive website (www.patbrit.org) showing photographic materials related to the Puerto Bories frigorifico and surrounding village. The Puerto Bories site was inaugurated in 1913 and is now a national monument and museum which can be accessed by the public. It represents an excellent opportunity for visitors to understand the industrial history of the Puerto Natales area.
Puerto Natales features good tourism facilities, and it has become the base for excursions to the Torres del Paine National Park; the Cueva del Milodon Natural Monument (a cave complex used by prehistoric tribes and where remains of the extinct Giant Sloth have been found;C. Michael Hogan, Cueva del Milodon, Megalithic Portal, 13 April, 2008 [*] the Bernardo O'Higgins National Park; and the Alacalufes National Reserve. The latter includes
the Fjord of the Mountains, Cordillera Riesco and Cordillera Sarmiento.
Puerto Natales is the capital of the province of Ultima Esperanza, ("Last Hope"), one of the four provinces that make up the Region de Magallanes y de la Antartica Chilena, in the southernmost part of Chile. According to the 2002 INE census, the province has a population of 19,885 while the municipality (or "comuna") of Natales has 19,116 .
The municipality's area is , which renders it one of the largest municipalities in Chile, being larger than seven regions of the country.
Puerto Natales is situated along the shore of the Seno Ultima Esperanza and has views northward into the Cerro Benitez peaks of the Cerro Toro formation within the Cordillera Manuel Senoret.
Note that the term "municipality" is sometimes confused with the Chilean administrative term "comuna" which is roughly comparable to a "county" in the United States and certain other countries. The town of Puerto Natales exists within a larger "comuna" - one of eleven in the XII Region of Chile, and one of only two in the province of Ultima Esperanza . Since the entire province of Ultima Esperanza is divided into only two comunas, the result is a rather large but sparsely populated area for the Puerto Natales comuna.
Its population density is only . Its geographic coordinates are: Latitude, 51 43' 60S; Longitude, 72 31' 0W; Altitude: 3 meters
The mayor of Natales is Fernando Paredes Mansilla . The municipal councillors are:
Herminio Fernandez Garcia: UDI
Ana Mayorga Bahamonde: UDI
Patricio Gamin Bustamante: PDC
Spiro Cardenas Tadich: PS
Antonieta Oyarzo Alvarado: PS
Munoz Gamero Peninsula
Silla del Diablo
News from Puerto Natales and torres del paine
Patagonia Webcam from Paine and Puerto Natales
Map, weather of Puerto Natales and its environs
Google map of Natales, Chile
View the Navimag's route from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales through the Chilean fjords in Google Earth
Panoramic virtual tour of Ultima Esperanza Sound from Puerto Natales
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Puerto Natales