Don Pablo Edronkin

Patagonia (II).



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Patagonia was discovered and named by Magellan during his voyage around the world, as Pigafetta tells us. It is a region that just in its Argentine sector spans around a million square of mostly uncharted kilometres.

The first settlers in the region were some Indians who about 7.000 years ago first set foot here. Mapuches, Araucans, Yaghans, Tehuelches and Onas are some of those forgotten peoples who for most accounts only exist now in a few daguerrotipes.

These were followed by European settlers who moved their sheep from the pampas located to the north because it made mores sense to raise and keep those animals down south. Agricultural settlements filled with Argentines, Chileans, Welsh and Englishmen soon began popping everywhere after 1850, many of which later grew into towns and cities.

The first Patagonian railroads were built around the end of the nineteenth century. Among these, the most important line, going from Bariloche and Neuquen to Bahia Blanca and Buenos Aires, was built in 1899 and meant the beginning of prosperity for the Andean district. Some lines still operate even in Tierra del Fuego, which is part of the South Atlantic Islands, Antarctica and Tierra del Fuego Province, as it is officially called.

In 1907, oil was accidentally discovered at 114 metres deep under Comodoro Rivadavia in the Atlantic coast, while workers were drilling for water. Later, refineries and related industries found in the area an ideal place and soon, mining industries, meat packers, fisheries and military installations followed.

More recently, nuclear facilities, consumer electronics, car parts production, logging industries, ski and winter sports centres augmented the number of inhabitants and urban areas, albeit the most characteristic and traditional export is still sheep wool.

A view of the South Atlantic.
A view of the seaside in a desolate beach near Puerto
Pirámides. There are more than 7.000 km of empty beaches
just on the Atlantic coast.



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