This Is the Southernmost City in the World

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“South” means warm temperatures to most Americans. This changes when the yardstick includes the southernmost “city” in the world (in reality a town of fewer than 3,000 residents), because it is relatively close to the continent of Antarctica. That town is Puerto Williams, Chile.

To determine the 24 southernmost towns or cities in the world, 24/7 Tempo reviewed a list compiled by Wikipedia.

Antarctica, once by far the coldest on earth, has started to warm. Last year, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), it recorded a new record high temperature of 65º F. (It’s still far colder there on average than in the 22 coldest towns in North America.)

There are no towns in Antarctica, only research stations and scientific bases (the American base at McMurdo Sound, whose population swells to about 1,000 in peak season, is the closest thing to an actual settlement there).

The continent closest to Antarctica is South America, particularly at its southern tip, which includes parts of Argentina and Chile. All the places on our list are in one of those two countries (or in one case the Falkland Islands, part of the United Kingdom, though that’s disputed by Argentina), or in New Zealand far south in the Pacific.

The areas of Argentina and Chile at South America’s southern tip, southwest of the Falkland Islands, have little population, but both have vied for the distinction of being home to the southernmost city in the world. Ushuaia in Argentina, with a latitude of 54º48’S, had long held the spot, but in 2019, Chile took the lead as it named Puerto Williams, still further south at 54º56’S, as a city.

Puerto Williams was founded as a settlement in 1953 and became a base for the Chilean Navy. Over time, it has become a tourist destination, and home to scientific communities because of its proximity to Antarctica.

For the most part, Puerto Williams posts low daily temperatures throughout almost the entire year. Over 12 months, temperatures usually run between 50º F and 5º F. Global warming could change that substantially over the next few decades.

Because the city is so far south, there are very few hours of daylight from May through July. (Can you answer these real “Jeopardy!” clues about Earth?)

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