PATAGONIA 2008 - Philippe DESTINE

Patagonia (Spanish pronunciation: [pataˈɣonja]) is a sparsely populated region located at the southern end of South America, shared by Argentina and Chile. The region comprises the southern section of the Andes mountains as well as the deserts, pampas and grasslands east of this southern portion of the Andes. Patagonia has two coasts: western facing the Pacific Ocean and eastern facing the Atlantic Ocean.

The Colorado and Barrancas rivers, which run from the Andes to the Atlantic, are commonly considered the northern limit of Argentine Patagonia. The archipelago of Tierra del Fuego is sometimes included as part of Patagonia. Most geographers and historians locate the northern limit of Chilean Patagonia at Reloncaví Estuary.

The name Patagonia comes from the word patagón, which was used by Magellan in 1520 to describe the native people that his expedition thought to be giants. It is now believed that the people he called the Patagons were Tehuelches, who tended to be taller than Europeans of the time.

The Argentine researcher Miguel Doura observed that the name Patagonia possibly derives from the ancient Greek region of modern Turkey called Paflagonia, possible home of the patagon personage in the chivalric romances Primaleon printed in 1512, ten years before Magellan arrived in these southern lands. The hypothesis was accepted and published in a 2011 New Review of Spanish Philology report.

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