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Introducing Magallanes

Hard to believe, but this rugged, weather-battered land has actually been inhabited for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. While modern inhabitants have little in common with the natives who once paddled the channels in canoes and hunted guanacos, they still remain cut off from the rest of the continent by formidable mountains and chilly waters. A supreme sense of isolation (and hospitality) is what attracts most visitors to Magallanes. The only way to get here from the rest of Chile is by air or sea, or by road through Argentine Patagonia.

While the capital, Punta Arenas, offers all of the conveniences of a major Chilean city, its surroundings are raw and desolate. Here visitors will find the end-of-the-world pioneer feeling to be recent and real.

Magallanes' modern economy depends on commerce, petroleum development and fisheries. Prosperity means it has some of the highest levels of employment and school attendance, and some of the best-quality housing and public services in Chile.