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Patagonia (IV).

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Patagonian plateau:

Patagonia is filled with plateaus and plains organized like a ladder which begins under the Atlantic and goes up all the way to the Andes. This part of patagonia is arid and inhospitable.

These plateaus are based around Cambrian strata covered with basaltic rock, sediments as well as eroded, round rocks that are residues from glacial periods.

There are few but significant rivers which generally run eastwards to the Atlantic. These originate in the mountains and are partially navigable.

Rains are scarce. Around Puerto Madryn, with an average precipitation of 200 millimetres per year, dry periods can extend for more than 18 months. Winds are very strong and cold is intense, and all these factors hamper the development of any significant vegetation.

The southernmost third of the Patagonian plateau, which occupies the Argentine provinces of Santa Cruz and Tierra del Fuego is more humid and significantly colder, with sub-polar weather. This environment is a typical tundra, where temperatures under minus 25 Celsius are not uncommon.

Today, just a few native inhabitants remain. Population is generally comprised of Europeans, among which the Welshmen are to be noted. These arrived firstly on a ship called 'Mimosa', and after 1863 colonised the Trelew river and then extended their presence to other areas. Welsh is still widely spoken, and town names like Rawson, Trelew, Madryn, Gayman and Telsen are a testimony to their hard work.

The Patagonian plateau.
A typical landscape of the Patagonian plateau.

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