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Located on the Brunswick Peninsula, Punta Arenas is the southernmost city of its size in the world. (Ushuaia, Argentina, also makes this claim and is further south, but has only half the population of Punta Arenas). Punta Arenas is the third largest city in the entire Patagonian Region, after the more northerly Argentine cities of Neuquén and Comodoro Rivadavia. In 2002, it had a population of 120,000. It is roughly 1418.4 km from the coast of Antarctica.
The Magallanes region is considered part of Chilean Patagonia. Magallanes is Spanish for Magellan, the explorer who, while circumnavigating the earth for Spain, passed close to the present site of Punta Arenas in 1520. Early English navigational documents referred to its location as "Sandy Point".