Magazine article Geographical

Why Does the Border between Argentina and Chile Move to the East Just North of Tierra del Fuego?

Magazine article Geographical

Why Does the Border between Argentina and Chile Move to the East Just North of Tierra del Fuego?

Article excerpt

R Steine, London

Even though European colonists attempted to build settlements in Argentina and Chile from the 16th century onwards, neither country took much interest in the large island at the southern tip of South America until the late 19th century. The two countries spent much more time arguing over the border that lay along the spine of the Andes, even though the disputed land was practically uninhabitable.

Argentina struggled through much of the 19th century under the weight of internal conflicts that delayed efforts to move south from the power base of Buenos Aires. It was comparatively late in the century that Europeans were encouraged to settle in Patagonia. Chile, on the other hand, had been relatively stable, and managed to occupy large parts of the southern tip of the continent, including parts of what is now Argentinian Patagonia.

When the two countries decided to settle their mutual border in 1881, Chile gave up its claim to Patagonia east of the Andes. But the country received a larger part of the islands of Tierra del Fuego than had been indicated on mid-19th-century maps. …

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