The Strait of Magellan is the passage immediately south of mainland South America. It is located between the continent and Tierra del Fuego, and (Cape Horn aside) is the biggest and most important natural passage between the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean.
The strait was "discovered" in 1521 by Ferdinand Magellan during the first global circumnavigation. Because Magellan's ships entered it on November 1st, it was originally named Estreito de Todos os Santos .
On May 23rd 1843, Chile took possession of the channel. Today is still under Chilean sovereignty. On the coast of the Strait lies the city of Punta Arenas and the village of Porvenir.
Before the creation of the Panama canal, this was the second-most travelled way to pass from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean (the most used route being around Cape Horn).
It is known as a difficult route due to the inhospitable climate and the narrowness of the passage.
This path was crossed by:
Prospectors during the 1849 California Gold Rush used this route as well.