The Aysén Region (XI) is located between 43º38 ‘in the north and 49º16’ in the south, and from 71 ° 06 ‘west to the territorial waters of the Pacific Ocean. This region has an area of 108,494.40 km2 (41,889.92 miles2), representing 14.3% of continental Chile and insular Chile. According to INE (NACIONAL STATS INSTITUTE) , the projected population by 2016 will reach 109,317 inhabitants and a density of 1.0 inhabitants per square kilometer.
Aysén’s geographical configuration is very unique, as it is characterized by the absence of a longitudinal valley, replaced by a large number of maritime channels and fjords. It has a cold oceanic climate which favors the formation of forest vegetation of unique species. The main rivers that make up its hydrography are the Palena, Baker, Aysén, Rio Bravo, and Pascua rivers, these last two of glacial origin.
The Western Patagonia was a distant and inhospitable for explorers who ventured into their cold lands region. The coastal zone , dismembered in multiple archipelagos, channels and maritime entrances, eternally rainy and covered with thick jungle, contrasts with the large and arid plateaus of the interior, whipped by strong winds and without vegetation than grasses. The Andes mountain range bifurcates into multiple branches, cut by glacial valleys and rivers that rise in the steppe to fall to the Pacific Ocean, such as the rivers Aysén, Simpson, Swans, and Baker rivers , through which drain the lakes General Carrera and Cochrane. In the southern part of the region, there are two giant ice plateaus that drain through glaciers in marine or lacustrine waters.
Its coasts had already been visited by scientific expeditions such as Robert Fitz-Roy’s famous expedition on the HMS Beagle , but it was in 1857 when the first attempt to explore the southern channels by the Chilean Navy was made. Although Lieutenant Francisco Hudson, in charge of the expedition, died in a shipwreck, five years later, Captain Francisco Vidal Gormaz was commissioned to recognize the coasts of continental Chile and the Guaitecasan archipelago. In 1870, the Navy commissioned Captain Enrique Simpson to reconnoiter the Patagonian west coast, with the express mission of finding an entrance to the interior valleys. After two frustrating attempts, he managed to reach the beginnings of the Patagonian plateau, discovering the valley of the river that bears his name.
The Industrial Society of Aysén, located in the valleys of Aysén, Simpson and Mañihuales, built roads that opened the colonization from the north and Argentina to this region. In 1927, Carlos Ibáñez del Campo created the Territory of Aysén, which ten years later passed to be one more province of Chile. In spite of this, Aysén would preserve for many years the character of an open border, colonization territory to the thrust of new pioneers.