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Magellan, Strait of

Magellan, Strait of, c.330 mi (530 km) long and 21/2 to 15 mi (4–24 km) wide, separating South America from Tierra del Fuego and other islands south of the continent. Except for a few miles at its eastern end in Argentina, it passes through Chile. The strait, discovered by Ferdinand Magellan in 1520, was important in the days of sailing ships, especially before the building of the Panama Canal, and is still used by ships rounding South America. One of the most scenic waterways in the world, it affords an inland passage protected from almost continuous ocean storms. However, the strait is often foggy. The major city on the strait is Punta Arenas, on the mainland.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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