The world's most southern city (according to Argentineans - Chileans will tell you it is Puerto Williams) Ushuaia lies on the shores of the Beagle Channel. Founded in the late 1800s, it is the largest settlement on the desolate, sparsely-populated, mountainous and windswept island of Tierra del Fuego - South America's largest island.
The archipelago was originally home to the kayak-paddling Ona and Patagon Indians who hunted seal and fish and covered themselves in seal-fat during winter to ward off the sub-zero temperatures. Darwin described them as the most wretched humans he had ever seen - in fact the arrival of Europeans and their diseases had contributed greatly to the natives' plight. Although Portugues, Spanish and English explorers had passed through the region in the 16th century, Tierra del Fuego wasn't settled by Europeans until three centuries later.
The city is an excellent base from which to explore the Martial Glacier which overlooks the town, the Lapataia National Park or from which to take one of the many boat excursions along the Beagle Channel to sight the wildlife, from sea-lions to penguins and cormorants in a natural habitat of spectacular and remote beauty.