Sunday, November 01, 2009

At the southernmost tip of the Western continents: Patagonia austral (southern patagonia)

Patagonia is a geographic region containing the southernmost portion of South America, says Wikipedia.

Located in Argentina and Chile, it comprises the southernmost portion of the Andes mountains to the west and south, and plateaux and low plains to the east. The name Patagonia comes from the word patagón[1] used by Magellan to describe the native people whom his expedition thought to be giants.

Santa Cruz is the largest province in the Argentinan Patagonia and the largest political subdivision in the region as a whole, covering 293,993 km2.

The province, mostly a cold, windswept steppe, is well-known for its extensive pebble beaches as well as for the deep-water lakes and vast glaciers in the Andes foothills along its western border with Chile. Santa Cruz's Atlantic coast is also known for the Laguna del Carbón; lying 105 meters (330 ft) below sea level, it is the lowest geographic point in the Western Hemisphere.

One of Santa Cruz's best-known geological curiosities is its Jamarillo Petrified Forests National Monument. Incorporated into the national park system in 1954, the 137 square kilometre (35,000 acre) area includes one of the world's most significant remains of Jurassic-era forests. The National Parks Administration also acquired 600 square kilometres (150,000 acres) of neighboring land, creating the largest natural steppe preserve in Latin America.

Santa Cruz's most notable and most visited geographic feature, however, is probably Perito Moreno Glacier, a national park as well.