A New Magazine For Patagonia

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In his voyage around the world in the 1830s, the famed naturalist Charles Darwin came away awestruck by what he saw in Patagonia. Darwin speculated that the reason he was so deeply affected by this region was “the free scope given to the imagination” supplied by its “boundless” natural landscape. 
 
Patagonia is an extraordinary place. 
 
In geographical terms, it's a region, spanning nearly the bottom half of Argentina and the lower one-third of Chile. It extends from the lake districts of these countries to Cape Horn Island in the Drake Passage. The next stop, Antarctica.
 
Most of all, Patagonia is a land of amazing natural contrasts. Here, there are long stretches of windy desert steppe. Yet, its also a mountainous landscape dominated by glaciers, fast flowing rivers and luxuriant forests. The diversity of wildlife includes penguin colonies the size of small cities, Andean condors that glide through the sky like airplanes with their 10-foot-long wingspans, and the enormous great blue whales that are larger than dinosaurs. 
 
The Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, in 1520, while on his way to becoming the first person to circumnavigate the globe, encountered Tehuelche Indians on the present-day southern Argentine coast and became enthralled by their enormous-sized feet. He dubbed them “Patagones,” after Patagon, the dog-headed giant in the Spanish novel Primaleon. Hence, the region got its name, and a centuries-old myth that this was a land of giants.
 
But those so-called giants, the Tehuelches, along with other indigenous communities, over time have mostly been wiped out by slavery, disease and settlers. In their stead a unique, eclectic culture has arisen from the European immigrants who came to begin a new life. Sheep and cattle ranching up until recently had long been the major form of activity in a rugged landscape that for the first settlers seemed little suited for much else. 
 
Until just three decades ago, most of Patagonia was a virtual island because of its remoteness and difficult terrain. In Chile, that began to change in 1976, when that country’s former military dictator Augusto Pinochet began to build the Carretera Austral. This highway, largely a dirt road, was completed in 2000 and has greatly improved the connections between Patagonia and the rest of the world. The pace of change is now intensifying, and economic initiatives proposed or underway, such as mining, salmon farming and energy development projects, threaten to transform the landscape in ways that could leave the natural and cultural essence of the region a sad memory. 
 
But this region can also choose a different path. Through engaging, high quality articles and extraordinary photography, Patagon Journal's mission is to build a greater appreciation, understanding and stewardship of one of our planet’s most beautiful and intriguing places. We invite you to participate.
 
- Jimmy Langman
 

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