Patagonia, a territory of South America, extending from lat. 38° 42' to 53° 52' S., and from Ion. 63° 9' to 75° 30' W. It is bounded N. by the Argentine Republic, from which it is separated by the Rio Negro, E. by the Atlantic, S. by the straits of Magellan, separating it from Tierra del Fuego, and W. by the Pacific and the republic of Chili, the dividing line with which last is the cordillera of the Andes. The maximum length from N. to S. is 1,050 m.; the maximum width from E. to W. near the northern extremity is 475 m., and near the southern extremity 175 m.; area about 350,000 sq. m. The coast line is indented by numerous inlets, particularly S. and W., where the seaboard is the most irregular of any on the South American continent. The largest gulfs on the Atlantic are San Ma-tias, Nuevo, and St. George; and the chief ports are those of San Antonio, San Jose, Desire, San Julian, and Santa Oruz. On the Pacific are the gulfs of Trinidad, Pefias, Corco-vado, and Ancud, the two latter being more properly straits separating the island of Ohiloe from the mainland. None of the ports are described as being commodious for shipping.
Islands are extremely rare on the E. coast; but the Pacific coast is fringed by a continuous chain, mostly in distinct groups. "Wellington, by far the largest island, between lat. 47° 30' and 50° 5', has a maximum length of 165 m. from N. N. W. to S. S. E., and a mean breadth of nearly 40 m. To the north of this island is the gulf of Pefias, to the south that of Trinidad, and it is separated from the mainland by Mersier channel: Others of the larger islands are Queen Adelaide, Hanover, and those of the Ohonos or Guaytecas archipelago. The eastern shores of most of the islands are high and rocky, and the western slopes covered with a comparatively rich arboreal vegetation, while the western edges are bare and subject to frequent storms. The only important peninsula on the Atlantic is that of Valdes, sometimes called San Jose; in the straits of Magellan is that of Brunswick, and on the Pacific that of Taytao. On the E. coast, the more prominent points and capes are Medano at the embouchure of the Negro, Norte and Delgada on Valdes peninsula, Tres Puntas and Virgins at the entrance to the straits of Magellan, and Cape Froward in Brunswick peninsula, the southernmost point of the American mainland.
The capes on the W. coast, though numerous, are unimportant. - Patagonia, in common with the remainder of the western continent lying W. of Ion. 62°, is traversed from S. to N. by the Andes, which here lie nearer to the coast than almost anywhere else S. of the isthmus of Panama. From the southern extremity of the territory to Mt. Burney, which has an elevation of 4,800 ft., there are few summits above 3,000 ft.; but the snow line in this region of short summers and long winters being under 2,000 ft., the character of the mountains is Alpine, and glaciers are frequent, at times even down to the sea level in the valleys. Northward from Mt. Burney the Alpine character is more continuous, especially in that part of the cordillera sometimes called the Sierra de Sarmiento. According to Agas-siz, the glaciers, which here evidently had a greater extension at an earlier period, have left indications of a movement from S. to N., and were connected with a polar ice sheet similar to that the traces of which are so apparent in the northern hemisphere. An observer from high summits is struck by the number of small lakes at all elevations, and still more by the slender cascades formed by the water rolling over the transverse ridge by which almost every valley is barred at different heights.
The loftiest peaks are between lat. 43° and 45° S., where the most conspicuous eminences are Mt. Cay and the volcanoes Yanteles (8,000 ft.) and Corco-vado. The latter volcano was formerly, though erroneously, considered the loftiest mountain in the world below lat. 42° S. Like its neighbor Minchinmadiva, however, about one degree further N., it more properly belongs to Chili than to Patagonia, though commonly assigned to the latter. A system of spurs detached from the Andes in lat. 41° S. curves northward to the very banks of the Eio Negro, and again bends S. E., trending toward the Atlantic coast, where it forms a littoral zone extending into the peninsula of Valdes. Terraced rocky ranges skirt the Atlantic coast from the peninsula just named to the southern extremity of the continent, rising here and there to a considerable elevation, as in the peaks Salamanca (lat. 45° 30'), Rivers (47° 30'), and Wood (48° 20'), and the singularly shaped hills inland from Possession bay, known as Mt. Ay-mond and the Asses' Ears, supposed to be the easternmost of a chain of small extinct volcanoes.
The mountains of the middle region of the straits, comprised in Brunswick peninsula, range from 1,000 to 3,000 ft. above the sea, but without glaciers, snow remaining only in patches on their summits. A low transverse chain, parallel to the bed of the Santa Cruz river in lat. 50° S., unites in Mt. Stokes, nearly 100 m. from the Pacific coast, with the true Andine cordillera. The space comprised within the mountains first traced embraces the sterile plains of Patagonia, consisting of a bed of shingle worn smooth and accumulated by the waves of the sea. - The principal rivers are those emptying into the Atlantic. The Negro, forming the boundary with the Argentine Republic, disembogues at El Carmen de Patagones, after a generally eastward course of over 500 m., throughout nearly the whole o3c which it has been navigated. The Chupat, descending from the Andes, traverses the plains eastward and discharges into the ocean at the port of the same name. The St. George, from the same chain, crossing the territory in a like direction, empties into St. George's bay in lat. 46° 30'. The Santa Cruz, after the Negro by far the most important, as it is navigable throughout at all seasons, the depth being nowhere less than 9 ft., forms the eastern outlet of Lake Viedma (lat. 49° 30' S.), whence by a gentle curve S. E. it flows to its estuary, into which it discharges through a mouth 3 m. wide.
The tide here rises from 35 to 50 ft. twice in the 24 hours. The few streams to the Pacific have short precipitous courses. Of the lakes existing in the interior, Viedma only is thoroughly known; it was explored in October, 1874, by Lieut. Feilberg of the Argentine navy, who found it to be 27 m. long and 100 m. in circumference, with a western drainage to the Pacilic 32 m. distant. The explorer reached it by the Santa Cruz, and on his return descended the river (which has a current of 0 m. an hour) to Port Santa Cruz at the mouth in 26 hours. The Rio Gallegos flows into the Atlantic at the port of the same name, in lat. 51° 50' S. Some of the lagoons in the north are not perennial, but disappear on the subsidence of the floods at the end of the rainy season. - The geology of Patagonia is at once simple and interesting. From the Rio Colorado, in the Argentine pampas, southward almost to lat. 51°, extends one great deposit including many tertiary shells, all apparently extinct, the most common of which is a colossal oyster often a foot in diameter.
Overlying these beds, the thickness of which at Port San Julian is over 800 ft., is a peculiar soft stone, really pumiceous, though including gypsum and somewhat resembling chalk, and one tenth of whose bulk is composed of infusoria, among which last Ehren-berg discovered 30 oceanic forms. The white beds are everywhere capped by a mass of gravel, forming probably, according to Darwin, one of the most extensive beds of shingle in the world. At the Santa Cruz river it reaches to the foot of the Andes, the thickness of the stratum half way up that river being over 200 ft.; and it probably extends everywhere to that cordillera, whence have been derived the well rounded pebbles of porphyry; thus its mean breadth may be computed at 200 m., and its mean thickness at 50 ft. The whole land from the basin of the Rio de la Plata to Tierra del Fuego has been raised in mass, to a height varying between 300 and 400 ft., within the period of the now existing sea shells; the old and weathered shells on the surface of the upheaved plain still partially retain their colors. The upward movement has been interrupted by at least eight long periods of rest, during which the sea ate deeply and uniformly into the land, forming at successive levels the rows of terraced escarpments.
The lowest of these step-like plains is 90 ft. high, and the highest near the coast 950 ft. The plain beyond Lake Viedma, at the foot of the Andes, slopes up to an elevation of 3,000 ft. At Port San Julian, in some red mud capping the gravel on the 90 ft. plain, Darwin found half a skeleton of the macrauchenia Patachonica, a remarkable quadruped, as large as a camel; and Capt. Sullivan of the British navy has since discovered, imbedded in regular strata on the banks of the Rio Gallegos, numerous large fossil bones, and some smaller ones, presumed to have belonged to an armadillo. The middle portion of the straits region, from Peckett's harbor to Port Gallant, is mostly of secondary formation, as far as determined by Mr. Pourtales, who visited the country during the Hassler expedition (1871-'2), the coal of Punta Arenas (Sandy Point) being cretaceous. The mountains of the west are for the most part composed of primitive rock, immense fragments of which are numerous around the upper course of the Santa Cruz. According to Darwin, it would be possible to prove that the bed of that river was once the bottom of a strait here joining the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, like that of Magellan. - The mineral resources of Patagonia, though supposed by geologists to be comparatively extensive, are imperfectly known.
Gold was found in 1874 in the region of the Gallegos and Santa Cruz rivers, and near Sandy Point; but mining operations begun in that year were shortly suspended. Coal is abundant in Brunswick peninsula, though but small quantities have hitherto been extracted. Some diamonds have been discovered in the Gallegos river, and pronounced to be similar to those of Brazil. - The climate in the north is extremely cold in winter and warm in summer; and it is very dry, there being often no rain during nine months. In the south there is more moisture; the rainy and windy seasons are spring and summer; the remainder of the year is characterized by calm, interrupted only by light winds. Thunder is not heard oftener than once in five years. Smallpox is unknown; rheumatism is common; and the climate is in general remarkably salubrious. - One of the striking characteristics of Patagonia is the similarity of the productions throughout, with the single exception of the straits region. The same stunted plants are everywhere to be met with on the arid shingly plains, and the same spiny shrubs in the valleys. Some thorn-bearing shrubs occur likewise in the north, where, not a tree being seen, they form, with salt pools here and there, the only relief to the dreary monotony of the grass-covered plains.
In the east the vegetation consists of grasses and a few leguminous and composite plants and shrubs, with sweet berries of various kinds. In the south •the forests present four species of trees: two beeches, the antarctic (fagus antarctica) and the evergreen (F. detuloides); the Winter's bark (drimys Winteri), known for the stimulant tonic properties of its aromatic bark; and the libocedrus tetragona, akin to the Chilian tree furnishing the valuable alerce timber. Shrubs and climbers abound in the thickets, the ornamental species including the Fuchsia, Desfontainea, Perrottetia with small globular berries, philesia with its bell-shaped, rose-red, waxy flowers, and many others. Nearly all the species of the Patagonian flora are also indigenous to Chili, and are found in every part of the moist country from the north of the.republic to Magellan straits. Ferns, mosses, and lichens are found in great abundance; and among the marine weeds should be mentioned the gigantic macrocystis pyrifera so common in the straits and on the W. coast, and useful to navigators by indicating the presence of submerged rocks. - Agriculture, hitherto confined to the colonies at Sandy Point and Port Santa Cruz, has only prospered in potatoes and garden vegetables; but it was hoped that Swiss immigrants, expected in 1874, would by the use of fertilizers, and with efficient culture, succeed in raising wheat and barley, both of which were found to take three years to come above ground at the now abandoned colony of Chupat. - The puma lurks along the forest margins, or seeks, in the vicinity of the rivers, lakes, and pools, his favorite prey, the gua-naco. The latter animal roams in numerous flocks through the plains, never approaching the woods.
Capybaras are very plenty, and the vizcacha and tucutuco, burrowing rodents, are here almost as common as in the Argentine pampas. Two species of deer are mentioned. A small delicately shaped fox, likewise very abundant, derives its support exclusively from several species of mice, externally characterized by large thin ears and a beautiful fine fur, which swarm among the thickets in the valleys. Skunks and cavies are to be met with everywhere. Among the amphibia are otters and two kinds of phocidce distinguished as eared and hair and fur seals; whales are not uncommon; and many varieties of excellent edible fish, including salmon, abound in some of the rivers and along the coasts. Shell fish are in great variety. The condor and some carrion hawks, especially the carrancha (polyhorus Brazilien-sis) and the chimango (P. chimango), follow and prey upon the guanacos; large flocks of geese (chloephaga Magellanica and C. antarc-tica) feed upon the plains; and penguins are numerous on the shores of the straits and elsewhere, as are also cormorants, ducks, oyster-catchers, and sea gulls. The forest glades are enlivened by the warbling of small birds of many kinds, and the gorgeous plumage of paroquets and humming birds.
The ostrich (rhea Americana) frequents the great central plains, where it is taken by the Indians with the lasso and bolas. - Recent travellers enumerate nine tribes of Patagonians S. of the Rio Negro: the Poyuches, Puelches, Cailliheches, Cheuches, Cailecaueches, Chaoches, Huilliches, Dilmaches, and Yakanaches. They all speak the same language, said to be akin to and strongly resembling the Araucanian of Chili, with slight dialectic modifications. They are tall (the men, according to Capt. Mayne, averaging 5 ft. 11 in., or 5 in. over the mean stature of Englishmen), robust and powerful in proportion to their size, with large heads, high cheek bones, black eyes expressive of savage cunning, and straight, coarse, black hair, separated in front by a band and falling in wild disorder over the shoulders and back. The women are relatively much smaller, and with few exceptions ill-looking. Their costume usually comprises a beaded patch of cloth upon the head, the hair being divided into two long braided tresses reaching to the loins; huge ear rings with great square pendents attached, necklaces, armlets, and anklets of beads; and a woollen garment extending from the shoulders to below the knees, and fastened at the waist with an ornamental girdle and at the top with a tupu or brooch often of silver.
The men swathe the middle of the body; and their mantle, not always worn save in the south, is made of guanaco skins sewed together, with a hole for the head, and extending below the knee. Both sexes paint the body with a species of volcanic earth furnished by the Araucanians, and pluck out all the hair of the eyebrows, beard, and all parts of the trunk. The Indians of the north are admirable equestrians, and pass most of their time on horseback; their offensive weapons are the lance, the sling, and the bow and arrow, all of which they use with dexterity and address, as they do also the lasso and bolas in the chase of the guanacos, ostriches, and cattle and horses on the plains. Their herds of these last and their flocks of sheep are numerous, being mainly stocked from the nearest Argentine farms, on which they make frequent raids. In the south the cattle are not so plenty, and there are no horses. The dress of the Indians is warmer, but, like their northern brethren, they are given to the use of intoxicating drinks, which, with tobacco, trinkets, and other commodities, they procure from the white colonists in exchange for ostrich feathers. The Fuegians, though of the same race as the Patagonians, are much smaller of stature, and differ essentiallv from them in their manner of living.
One religion prevails through the whole of Patagonia; the people believe in two supreme beings, Vitauentru, revered as the author of all good, but to whom no fixed place of abode is assigned, and Hua-cuvu or Gualichu, the source of all human ills, and ruler of the evil spirits supposed to wander to and fro on the face of the earth. They have no priests, but there are diviners (of both sexes), whose pretended power to see into the bowels of the earth is gradually losing prestige with the multitude. Most of the tribes now possess cooking utensils, but the food, in the north mainly consisting of horse flesh, is still eaten almost raw, though with abundance of salt. They are fond of drinking the blood of animals; and after each meal they smoke tobacco prepared with ox manure in a stone pipe, inhaling vast volumes of smoke until insensibility and even convulsions ensue. They have two religious festivals, one in honor of each of their divinities. They bury their dead with great solemnity, sacrificing the horse of the deceased (if a man) on his grave, besides which they leave a quantity of slaughtered animals for his food. They are fond of dancing, during which the women sing and beat a sort of tamborine, accompanied by the discordant notes of a reed fife, their only musical instrument.
Altogether the Patagonians have dwindled down to a few thousand. - This region was discovered in 1520 by Magalhaens, who named it Patagonia (the country of the large-footed), in allusion to the presumed large size of the feet of the natives, judging from footprints seen upon the coast; but this was an unfounded presumption, the people being remarkable for proportionately small feet. The coast was visited by Drake in 1578, by Byron in 1764, and by Cook in 1774. Since that time the territory has frequently been explored more or less extensively by a number of voyagers: by Darwin in 1834, Musters in 1869, and members of the American Hassler expedition in 1871. The most accurate descriptions of the Patagonians are from the pens of Bourne, an Englishman, and Guinnard, a Frenchman, detained as captives by the natives, the first three months and the second three years (1856-'9). Three vocabularies of the Patagonian language have been compiled: by Pigafetta in the 16th century, by Schmid in 1863, and by Musters in 1870. In earlier days the territory nominally formed part of the viceroyalty of Buenos Ayres. It has since been disputed by the Chilians and Argentines, but the latter have consented to the occupation by the former of the whole of the Pacific coast region.
The Chilians established a colony at Port Famine in 1843, but removed it to Sandy Point on the E. shore of Brunswick peninsula in 1850; smce then it has been comparatively prosperous. The population of the colony, which is administered by a governor, was officially given in 1873 at 869; and a contract was signed for the introduction of 100 Swiss families, expected to arrive in the following year. The value of the exports (mainly skins) for 1873 was $34,632, and of the imports $48,534, almost exclusively from Valparaiso. In that year 86 steamers, 10 sailing vessels, and 10 war steamers touched at the port. Farm lots of 50 acres each had been given to 117 settlers. The Chilian government has initiated numerous improvements tending to facilitate steam navigation through the straits; and $25,000 was appropriated in 1873 for a lighthouse to be built on Cape Virgins, at the Atlantic entrance thereto, a step regarded at Buenos Ayres as an audacious infringement upon Argentine sovereignty. At Port Santa Cruz there has been an Argentine colony for several years; but besides a fish-oil factory in the vicinity, no profitable industry is carried on there.
A Welsh colony, founded under Argentine auspices in 1865 on the Rio Chupat, proved unsuccessful, and the settlers removed to the province of Santa Fe shortly afterward. Viedma, who visited Patagonia in 1779, and pushed his explorations inland to the foot of the Andes, built several forts along the coast; and these, with the settlements above enumerated, are-4he only civilized establishments in this dismal region. The Chilian congress in 1864 decreed the concession of 75,000 sq. m., embracing both coasts, to a Mr. Tornero, on condition of his introducing 10,000 colonists and keeping four steam tugs in the straits; but that and several similar schemes have never been carried out. It has been asserted that serious efforts to colonize Patagonia permanently must always fail, and that the territory will be unpopulated for centuries to come.