Patagonia is a region located at the southern end of South America, territory shared by Argentina and Chile, which comprises the southern section of the Andes mountains to the southwest towards the Pacific ocean and from the east of the cordillera to the valleys it follows south through Colorado River towards Carmen de Patagones in the Atlantic Ocean. To the west, it includes the territory of Valdivia through Tierra del Fuego archipelago.
The name Patagonia comes from the word patagon used by Magellan in 1520 to describe the native people that his expedition thought to be giants. It is now believed the Patagons were actually Tehuelches with an average height of 180 cm (~5'11") compared to the 155 cm (~5'1") average for Spaniards of the time.
The Argentine portion of Patagonia includes the provinces of Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut and Santa Cruz, as well as the eastern portion of Tierra del Fuego archipelago and the southernmost department of Buenos Aires province: Patagones. The Argentine politico-economic Patagonic Region includes the Province of La Pampa.
Patagonia is a Welsh colony. The Chilean part of Patagonia embraces the southern provinces and regions of Aisén and Magallanes, including the west side of Tierra del Fuego and Cape Horn, and Palena Province in Los Lagos Region.
Neuquen covers 94,078 km2 (36,324 sq. miles), including the triangle between the Limay River and Neuquen River, which extends southward to the northern shore of Lake Nahuel-Huapi (41oS) and northward to the Rio Colorado.
On the upper bits of Neuquen territory thousands of cattle can be fed, and the forests around Lakes Traful and Nahuel-Huapi yield large quantities of valuable timber. The Neuquen river is not navigable, but as its waters are capable of being easily dammed in places, large stretches of land in its valley are used; but the lands on each side of its lower part are of little commercial value.
As the Cordillera is approached, the soil becomes more fertile, and suitable districts for the rearing of cattle and other agricultural purposes exist between the regions which surround the Tromen volcano and the first ridges of the Andes. Chos Malal, the capital of the territory, is situated in one of these valleys. More to the west is the mining region, in great part unexplored, but containing deposits of gold, silver, copper and lignite. In the centre of the territory, also in the neighborhood of the mining districts, are the valleys of Norquin and Las Lajas, the general camp of the Argentine army in Patagonia, with excellent timber in the forest on the Andean slope. The wide valleys occur near Rio Malleo, Lake Huechulafquen, the river Chimehuin, and Vega de Chapelco, near Lake Lacar, where are situated villages of some importance, such as Junin de los Andes and San Martin de los Andes. Close to these are the famous apple orchards supposed to have been planted by the Jesuits in the 17th and 18th centuries. These regions are drained by the river Collon Cura, the principal affluent of the river Limay. Lake Lacar is now a contributory of the Pacific, its outlet having been changed to the west, owing to a passage having been opened through the Cordillera.
Rio Negro covers 203,013 km2 (78,383 sq. miles), extending from the Atlantic to the Cordillera of the Andes, to the north of 42oS.
The Rio Negro (river) runs along a wide transverse depression, the middle part of which is followed by the railway which runs to the settlement of Neuquen at the confluence of the rivers Limay and Neuquen. In this depression are several settlements, among them Viedma, the capital of the Río Negro territory, Cipolletti, General Conesa, Choele Choel and General Roca. To the south of the Rio Negro, the Patagonian plateau is intersected by the depressions of the Gualicho and Maquinchao, which in former times directed the waters of two great rivers (now disappeared) to the gulf of San Matias, the first-named depression draining the network of the Collon Cura and the second the Nahuel Huapi lake system. In 42oS there is a third broad transverse depression, apparently the bed of another great river, now perished, which carried to the Atlantic the waters of a portion of the eastern slope of the Andes, between 41o and 42o30"S.
Chubut territory presents the same characteristics as the Rio Negro territory. Rawson, the capital, is situated at the mouth of the river Chubut on the Atlantic (42o30'S). The town was founded in 1865 by a group of colonists from Wales, assisted by the Argentine government; and its prosperity has led to the foundation of other important centres in the valley, such as Trelew and Gaiman, which is connected by railway with Puerto Madryn on Bahia Nueva. Here is the seat of the governor of the territory, and by 1895 the inhabitants of this part of the territory, composed principally of Argentines, Welsh and Italians, numbered 552,585. The valley has been irrigated and cultivated, and produces the best wheat of the Argentine Republic. Between the Chubut and the Senguerr there are vast stretches of fertile land, spreading over the Andean region to the foot of the Cordillera and the lateral ridges of the Pre-Cordillera, and filling the basins of some desiccated lakes, which have been occupied since 1885, and farms and colonies founded upon them. The chief of these colonies is that of 16 de Octubre, formed in 1886, mainly by the inhabitants of Chubut colony, in the longitudinal valley which extends to the eastern foot of the Cordillera.
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