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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