With a population approaching 50,000 and every convenience of a modern city, Ushuaia is the southern most city on earth. (There are small settlements as large as 2500 further south, but really no city.) The city was founded by the Argentine government around the turn of the last century as a place to dump prisoners, very much as both Australia and France were doing at the time with their regional outreaches. Today, the colorful and dynamic little metropolis lives on tourism, and there is a lot of it.

Virtually every major cruise ship visiting Antarctica, the Falkland Islands or cruising the Beagle Channel stops here. And during the winter, several increasingly popular ski resorts are developing with all the glamor and pizzaz of the finest resorts in Europe.

This area at the tip of South America, Patagonia, is unique and fickle. Temperatures are moderated by the great seas, and average lows rarely fall below 25 F. and highs rarely exceed the upper 50s. But it either rains, drizzles or gets fogged out every other day, and hurricane force wind gusts are common. The magnificent wilderness of the area, including Tierra del Fuego national park, is filled with unusual plants and trees that have existed on earth longer than any of their cousins found elsewhere on the planet.