It was founded on 18 December 1848 after the transferring the population from Fort Bulnes by order of newly assumed Governor José Santos Mardones, since it had better weather, water and firewood conditions. According to the British charts prepared by expeditions, the area was called Punta Arenas (Sandy Point). Hence its current name.
Before the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914, Punta Arenas was the main port in the navigation between the Pacific and the Atlantic since it is located in the Strait of Magellan. That explains why before that time was its heyday, which made the city a great cosmopolitan and commercial centered in the southern end of South America.
Punta Arenas is the most populated and cosmopolitan city of Chilean Patagonia. Within the city, there are all the services of the big cities, and it also has a Duty Free zone. Its quality of living stands out as one of the best in Chile, having the second highest per capita income in the country. The Magallanes region is known by a sense of regionalism and attachment to the land that makes it have its own flag, motto and anthem, which considers it a fairly particular area.
The layout of the city is based on the Spanish classic checkerboard design or “chessboard”, but away from the city center, the suburbs acquire more modern layouts. The city center has an architecture that resembles European cities with neo classical buildings on broad and tree-lined streets. In the suburbs, most of the houses have been built on the Georgian style.
Every year the town council of the city carries out an activity called “Carnaval de Invierno” (“Winter Carnival”), where there are presented floats, and street musicians perform different music and dance, apart from the election of the carnival queen.