Punta Arenas is east of the Andes Mountains when the rest of Chile is west of the Andes. It is facing the Atlantic Ocean, but not on the Atlantic Ocean. It is actually on a part of the Strait of Magellan the runs North and South. Punta Arenas is the capital city of Magallanes Province and the population is about 131,000. In summer the winds are strong and incessant, sometimes reaching a gale force 110 MPH. In winter, snow covers most of the region and roads become impassable.
It is a very clean city with a very prominent sense of history dating back to the time of Magellan. There is a University specializing in Engineering, and at least two museums telling the history from the time of the native people to the production of natural gas and refining of other petrol fuels. One of the museums in an open air exibit of turn of the 20th century machinery and life style in the sheep ranching and oil well industry. Two main boom times, from 1850 to 1914 when they were providing coal and other supplies to the shipping industry. At this time it was also a world supplier of wool. Competition from from New Zealand and Australia for the wool market and the Panama canal opening in 1914 created a sudden change. The second boom began around 1940 with the discovery of oil near by, and the development of better roads and a major highyway to link the communities up and down the coast. Even today, the major highway wanders back and forth between the countries of Argentina and Chile.