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Punta Arenas is the southernmost city on Earth, overlooking the Straits of Magellan. Situated astride one of the world’s historic trade routes, its prosperity has risen and fallen with that trade. Punta Arenas enjoyed its first great boom during the California Gold Rush, when it served as a haven for great clipper ships. Although the port’s importance diminished after the opening of the Panama Canal, the city reached even greater prosperity early in this century as the center of Chile’s international wool trade. Today, Punta Arenas reflects a great mix of cultures, from English sheep ranchers to Portuguese sailors, and it remains an utterly fascinating testament to the Chile’s rich history. Punta Arenas is also the starting point for excursions to some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.