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Facts about the Aysen Region in Chile

Buzzle Staff Oct 1, 2019
The Aysén Region of southern Chile is a sparsely populated area located in the Chilean Patagonia. Home to the Patagonian Ice Fields, some world-class fishing destinations, and other tourist attractions, this region is a pristine destination for adventure lovers.

Quick Fact

Volcán Hudson, a stratovolcano in the Aysén Region, is a site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century.
Aysén, sometimes spelled as Aisén, is one of 15 administrative regions or divisions of Chile, South America. Aysén is the least populated among all the regions of Chile, and considered by some, as the most beautiful.

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Located in the Chilean Patagonia, Aysén is characterized by a unique landscape that was formed by glaciers. These glaciers were part of a large ice sheet called the Patagonian Ice Sheet.

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A vast field of ice once covered most of the Patagonia region, a substantial portion of which is also in Argentina. Today, much of the ice sheet has retreated, and the movement of these glaciers has carved beautiful lakes and fjords, which make this region, a tourists' paradise.

The Patagonian Ice Sheet

➠ Aysén is home to two large ice fields, which are remnants of the large Patagonian Ice Sheet.
➠ The smaller one, called the Northern Patagonian Ice Field, is located in Chile's Laguna San Rafael National Park.
➠ This park is remote and untouched, and visitors can only reach it by a plane or by a boat.
➠ In 1979, UNESCO designated the park as a World Biosphere Reserve, which has drawn attention to the region, and made the park one of the most popular tourist destinations in Aysén and in Chile.
➠ In addition to mountain climbing and sightseeing, the Laguna San Rafael region also attracts bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts, owing to its biodiversity and rarity of species.
➠ The Southern Patagonian Ice Field is located on the Southern Patagonic Andes, between Chile & Argentina.
➠ The total area of the ice field is 16,800 sq. km, out of which about 14,000 sq. km is within the Chilean territory, and the rest is in Argentina.
➠ The Bernardo O'Higgins National Park in the Aysén Region is a part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, and is the largest protected area in Chile.
➠ The park is known for its numerous narrow fjords, which cut through the mountains, and drain the water down from their ice-capped elevations.

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➠ Today, the O'Higgins glacier is one of the fastest melting glaciers in Chile, owing to global warming.


➠ Although there were several small indigenous communities in Aysén at the time of colonization, today most of them has been wiped out.
➠ Descendants of European colonists make up a larger percentage of the population.
➠ In the late 1800s, settlers from across Europe arrived in the region, especially from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
➠ Chile was eventually colonized by Spaniards, and later, settlers from the United Kingdom and Russia arrived, further reducing the indigenous population.


➠ Fishing is an important aspect of the economy of the Aysén region, which produces a majority of Chile's salmon.
➠ Apart from fishing, extraction of lumber from the forests, and animal husbandry are also two important occupations of the people in this region.
➠ In addition to fishing, Aysén also exports metals like zinc and gold, sheep products, and wood products.
➠ In recent times, sports, recreation, and eco-tourism are also being viewed as driving forces of the economy. However, plans to build hydroelectric dams in the region could put those sectors at risk.


➠ At nearly 42,000 square miles in area, Aysén is slightly larger than the U.S. state of Tennessee. As of 2010, the district's total population was more than 102,000. Nearly half of this population lives in Coyhaique, Aysén's capital and largest city.
➠ Before the European arrival, Coyhaique was inhabited by the indigenous Cunco people, who lived on subsistence agriculture.
➠ At only 991 feet above sea level, Coyhaique's elevation is outmatched by many cities, but its southern latitude and mountainous geography have earned it the nickname 'the city of eternal snow'.
➠ There is only one ski resort near the city though.
➠ When it comes to outdoor activities, the city is much better known for its fly fishing.

Aysén Destinations

➠ With its one-of-a-kind landscape and unique history, travel destinations in Aysén are varied.
➠ In addition to Laguna San Rafael National Park, other national parks are worth visiting. For example, the Queulat National Park near the town of Puyuhuapi boasts of a famous hanging glacier.
➠ The Guamblin Island, in the Chonos Archipelago in the Aysén region is another national park and a breeding ground for the Sooty Shearwater.
➠ Similarly, the Cerro Castillo National Reserve is a nature reserve, situated to the south of Coyhaique, and features the highest mountain in Chile, the Cerro Castillo.
➠ In addition to these, the region offers several other attractions for tourists, including resorts and national parks that give them an enriching experience.
Since it was completed in the 1980s, Chile's Route 7, also known as the Carretera Austral, has been a popular route for people, who want to tour the region. Much of the road remains unpaved, and several ferry crossings are necessary to drive the whole length of the road but the stunning landscape of Chile's Aysén region is worth the hassle.