• Short Summary

    On the outskirts of the Argentine city of Ushuaia there is a sign pointing the way to the capital, Buenos Aires -- 3,218 kilometres (2,010 miles) to the north.

  • Description

    On the outskirts of the Argentine city of Ushuaia there is a sign pointing the way to the capital, Buenos Aires -- 3,218 kilometres (2,010 miles) to the north.

    The sign establishes Ushuaia's right to call itself the southernmost city in the world, perched on the southern edge of Tierra del Fuego.

    More than 6,000 people live there in wooden houses with Alpine sloping roofs, ringed around by snow-clad peaks and dense woods.

    The climate is monotonously cool in summer and cold in winter with bitter winds blowing at over 130 K.p.h. (80 m.p.h.)
    Buenos Aires is nine days away by boat, five hours by air and road are almost non-existent. The Argentine Navy transports food, medicine, clothes and tools to the isolated communities of the Land of Fire, as well as repairing inaccessible coastguard lights in some of the most dangerous shipping waters on earth.

    Tierra del Feugo was discovered by Thomas Magellan in 1520 when he sailed through the straits which have been named after him. He is believed to have called the land Tierra del Fuego because he saw a great number of fires in the distance kept alive by the Indians to ward off the cold.

    There was no systematic exploration of the area until the British Admiralty undertook a detailed survey by Philip Parker King and Robert Fitzroy during the decade 1826-036. They were accompanied on the vyoage of the "beagle" by the young Charles Darwin.

    In the 1880's the introduction of sheep farming and the discovery of gold on the beaches of the islands south of Ushuaia led to colonisation by European settlers and Chilean and Argentine nationals.

    On the first days of January 1869 the missionary, Waite H. Stirling of the South American Society arrived at the harbour called by the Indians "Ushuai" -- in their language "deep harobour". The Rev. Sterling built himself a hut of logs and lived alone with the Indians, slowly gaining their confidence. A year later he was appointed Bishop of the Falkland islands with jurisdiction over the British churches of Argentina and Chile.

    He was replaced in Ushuaia in 1870 by Tom Bridges who arrived already speaking the language of the yaganes Indians, at the head of a party which included a school teacher and a carpenter. And the city of Ushuaia wa born.

    When his work as a missionary was over in 1887 Tom Bridges decided to live in Harberton Harbour, 35 miles (56 kms) from Ushuaia, where he raised sheep, and died at the age of 96.

    Sheep raising is still important in the area -- there is a cold storage plant at Rio Grande -- and the people of the most southerly city in the world also make their living from timber cutting, fishing and trapping.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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