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Tuesday, September 1, 1998 Published at 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK


UK

Patagonia - Wales comes to South America

Patagonia's railway cuts through a plain

A group of French invaders have claimed the little-known Minquiers uninhabited rocks near the Channel Islands.

The "invasion" was made in the name of the so-called kingdom of Patagonia - an historic region of South America - famous not for conquering mercenaries but for its diverse wildlife and Welsh heritage.


[ image:  ]

  • Patagonia is a region covering southern parts of Chile and Argentina. It is about 900,000 square kilometres in size, stretching down to Tierra del Fuego.

  • It was named by the Spanish. Patagonia means Big Feet.

  • It is famous for the diversity of its landscape. It includes the mountains of the Andes, miles of spectacular coastline and the world's largest area of steppes, inhospitable plateaux with sparse vegetation.

  • The civilisation of Patagonia dates back to before 600BC, when an ancient culture developed complex myths and rites. It was discovered by Magellen in 1520. However, the population remained sparse, with still only 8,000 inhabitants by pre-colonial times.

  • Many nationalities have since colonised parts of Patagonia, including the French and the Welsh. In the last century a French adventurer decreed the area the "Kingdom of Patagonia", but his claim was short-lived.

  • The region's biggest economic activity is sheep-herding, established by the Welsh after their arrival in the 19th Century.



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