Argentina travel guide




Ushuaia Travel Guide

History of Ushuaia

The land was initially populated by Alakalufes, Haush, Onas or Selk'nam and Yaganes or Yamanas ethnic groups, they were essentially terrestrial hunters and nomad fruit gatherers. At the end of eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth, the inhabitants initiated the first contacts with white men.

In 1870, a group of the Anglican South American Missionary Society arrived on board the Allen Gardiner schooner, in order to evangelize the natives, pioneer missionary Thomas Bridges and his descendants have left an important legacy in his texts about the history of the Yamana and their Language. On 18th June 1872, Tomás Despard Bridges was born on the island, he was the first white Fuegian baby.

Miners arrived attracted by commentaries on the existence of gold in the area, they settled in the north of the island got in contact with the Selk´nam and ill-treated them, what caused their violent reaction. In 1885, the Romanian Julio Popper, arrived and settled in El Páramo to exploit gold, achieved power and influence in the area. He is famous for his responsibility in the extermination of the Selk'nam aboriginal group.

In September 1884, a expeditionary division of the Argentine Army commanded by Commodore Augusto Laserre arrived at Ushuaia, on the 12th October they raised the national flag officially for first time, every year that date is celebrate as the birthday of Ushuaia. By presidential decree, in June 1885, Ushuaia was declared capital of the government of Tierra del Fuego.

A prison for its most infamous criminals and political undesirables was built in the Archipelago, it was first built in San Juan de Salvamento (States Island), and then in Golondrina Bay, near Ushuaia, in 1902. In 1947, the Juan Domingo Perón's government closed the prison and the building was acquired by the Navy Department to create, in 1950, the major naval base Ushuaia Almirante Berisso. By that time the population of Ushuaia had already increased to 2182 inhabitants.

The quiet life in the town was changed when many Lithuanian, Lebanese, Spanish, and Croatian families came to Tierra del Fuego for different reasons, most of them decided to stay there, after finished their work. The seventies marked another moment in the history of Ushuaia, with the promulgation of the law of industrial promotion. Many Argentinians from different provinces were attracted by possibility of find a job and save money. Since then, the city is growing year after year.

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