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Puerto Williams

Puerto Williams (Spanish for "Port Williams") is a Chilean port, located on Isla Navarino facing the Beagle Channel. It is the capital of the Chilean Antarctic Province, one of four provinces located in the Magellan and Chilean Antartica Region. It has a population of a little over 2,000, including both naval personnel and civilians, and many of the houses in Puerto Williams belong to the Chilean Navy. Puerto Williams is sometimes considered the southernmost city in the world, a title that is disputed by Ushuaia, located on the opposite, northern side of the Beagle Channel.

The settlement was named after John Williams Wilson (an Irish captain born in 1798 and known locally as Juan Guillermos), who founded Fuerte Bulnes . Puerto Luisa was its original name. Since its foundation in 1953 the settlement has served primarily as a naval base. But recently navy personnel living in Puerto Williams have decreased while civil population has increased. In recent years tourism has contributed to an increase in economic activity at Puerto Williams. Universidad de Magallanes has a university centre in Puerto Williams.


Puerto Williams is a major hub for scientific activity linked to Antarctica and the islands south of Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego. The University of Magallanes has a university centre in Puerto Williams and weather stations and lighhouses in Cape Horn and Diego Ramirez Islands are supplied from Puerto Williams. Puerto Williams has been instrumental for asserting sovereignty around Cape Horn and supporting Chile's Antarctic bases. The port is also frequently visited by tourists going to Cape Horn or Antarctica and has a tourism industry developed around the concept of ''"the world's most southern"'' a niche it shares with the Argentine city of Ushuaia. The Chilean Navy runs the city's airport and hospital as well as nearby meteorological stations.

Southernmost city

Based on some definitions of what a city is Puerto Williams could be the southernmost city in the world. Chilean media and Puerto Williams administration report it to be the southernmost city in the world. A 1998 article in the Argentine 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 Williams and the Secretariat of Tourism of Argentina continues to use the slogan in official documentation and web sites to describe Ushuaia.

Puerto Williams' claim is based on the fact that there are no larger permanent settlements and no settlements with the same amount of services and infrastructure further south. Between 1982 and 2002 the population of Puerto Williams grew from 1,059 to 1,952: an increase of 84%. Puerto Williams, since 1982, is considered an urban entity by Chile's Department of National Statistics although the department itself classifies a city to be an urban entity with more than 5,000 residents.

Local celebrations

Glorias Navales Regatta: In the last week of May,there is a sailing competition with sailors from all parts of the world. The competition is on its 7th session and has more than 300 participants every year.The journey starts from the city's port and take the fjords route.

Fiesta de la nieve: Celebrating the winter season on July, the city celebrates the winter with snow games, cars and rodeos,in a celebration that last 6 days.

Services and facilities

Airport - Guardia Marina Zanartu Airport

Bank - Banco de Chile

Fire station

Hospital - Naval Hospital of Puerto Williams


Hotel - Lakataia


Marina - Micalvi Yacht Club

City hall of Antartica and Cabo de Hornos communes

Museum - Martin Gusinde Anthropological Museum

Police station (Reten de Carabineros)

Primary and secondary school


Sea port and cruise home port

Tourism office

University centre (Universidad de Magallanes)


The climate of Puerto Williams is subpolar oceanic climate (Cfc) according to the Koppen climate classification. The summer are short, cool while the winters long, wet, but yet moderated. Rainfalls are around a year and temperatures are steady throughout the year. Snowfall can occur in summer. The cold and wet summers help preserve glaciers. Exposed areas around Puerto Williams possess subantarctic climate typical of tundra that makes the growth of trees impossible. Regions in the world with similar climates to southern Tierra del Fuego are: Aleutian islands, Iceland, Alaska Peninsula and Faroe Islands.


The community has a small airport. Most lodgings for tourists are hostels. There are several trails for multi-day hikes and back-packing trips in the Dientes de Navarino mountains south of Puerto Williams. Remains of Indian campsites and fishtraps can be found along the coast east of the city. Puerto Williams is home to the Martin Gusinde Anthropological Museum, which depicts the lives of both the Yamana or Yahgan and Selknam peoples who once inhabited Tierra del Fuego. For easy exploration of some of the subantarctic forest, the Omora Ethnobotanical Park is five kilometres down the road to the west.

The Cape Horn National Park may be reached by boat from Puerto Williams. During the summer months (January-March), private sailing boats and charter yachts use "PW" as a departure port for Cape Horn and the Antarctic Peninsula; the half-sunken M/V Micalvi serves as a yacht club.


Access is by daily air service provided by Aerovias DAP or by weekly ro-ro ferry 'Bahia Azul' from Punta Arenas, to the north. In the summer months it is also possible to reach Puerto Williams by either the RIB 'Calafate' which connects Ushuaia with Puerto Navarino or by chartered light aircraft or yachts. Berths can sometimes be found on yachts sailing between the two ports. There is no regular link with Argentina and connection to Ushuaia is restricted for political reasons.

Naval base

Puerto Williams is one of the principal naval bases of the Chilean Navy. The base is used as start point for patrol, reconnaissance missions and rescues in the areas of Beagle Channel, Cape Horn, Drake's Passage and the Antarctic Peninsula. The Chilean Navy operates Guardia Marina Zanartu Airport and the Naval Hospital of Puerto Williams in Puerto Williams. Navy personnel makes up a considerable portion of the population although the navy personnel population has diminished in recent years. The following patrol boats and ships are stationed at Puerto Williams:

PSG Sibbald

PSG Isaza

LSG Hallef

LSG Alacalufe

PM Puerto Williams

See also

Southernmost settlements

Beagle conflict

Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve

External links

Information from the Chilean Tourism Service regarding activities in Puerto Williams and Cabo de Hornos National Park

[[:es:Cabo de Hornos (comuna)|Spanish WP on Commune of Cabo de Hornos]]

Puerto Williams and Commune of Cabo de Hornos official website

Museo Antropologico Martin Gusinde

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

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