Situated in the southern tip of South America, the Patagonia Region became inhabited by people over 10,000 years ago. Covering over 900,000 km, the southern and western landscape is dominated by the rugged Andean mountain chain, and in the east the land is cut in half by a plateau that leads to low-level plains. Covering the southern portions of Chile and Argentina, many visitors are drawn to the area for a glimpse of the rare and spectacular natural beauty, including the staggering Fitz Roy Massif, the Perito Moreno Glacier, and the lake district of Bariloche.
Advancing glaciers that occurred over 800,000 years ago, with the largest expansion of ice fields occurring about one million years earlier, created the landscape of this region. The glacier advances created basins filled with water and major rivers that still exist today. These events were followed by a decay of advancing glaciers due to a warmer climate that developed, which lasted for about 15,000 years. Massive moraines, or ridges were created as advancing glaciers carried rock debris to the edge of the glaciers, resulting in the stunning, jagged peaks that occur today.
This region was the last continental land mass to be settled by humans. Although there is still much debate concerning when and how people arrived to this continent, most scholars support the hypothesis of an earlier settlement that was more of a gradual dispersion rather than a direct migration. Evidence of the earliest settlement dates back to 12,500 BP at Monte Verde in southern Chile. Hut foundations, wooden artifacts, and ecological evidence were discovered under a later of peat, which helped to preserve it.
Magellan discovered the region in 1520, and although the Spanish originally claimed the land, the independent governments of Chile and Argentina chose to split up the land in 1881. The idea was to split the land based on the highest peaks that divide the waters, thus the borders were created across the largest summits, one of them being Mount Fitzroy. There were some discrepancies to this arrangement, and some borders are still very controversial with the natives.
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