Punta Arenas po͞on´tä ärā´näs [key], city (1990 est. pop. 120,000), capital of Magallanes y La Antartica Chilena region, S Chile, on the Strait of Magellan, the world's southernmost major city. Punta Arenas was founded in 1849 to maintain Chile's claim to the strait. Until the building of the Panama Canal, Punta Arenas was a busy coaling station. It has been an important center for export of Patagonian wool and mutton and, since the mid-20th cent., for the export of oil from nearby oil fields. More recently it has become a gateway for research on the Antarctic Peninsula. Punta Arenas, which is popular with tourists in spite of a long rainy season, has a notable museum. From 1927 to 1938 the city was renamed Magallanes.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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