Patagonia, Argentina semiarid scrub plateau that covers nearly all of the southern portion of mainland Argentina. With an area of about 260,000 square miles (673,000 square kilometres), it constitutes a vast area of steppe and desert that extends south from latitude 37° to 51° S. It is bounded, approximately, by the Patagonian Andes to the west, the Colorado River to the north (except where the region extends north of the river into the Andean borderlands), the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Strait of Magellan to the south; the region south of the strait—Tierra del Fuego, which is divided between Argentina and Chile—also is often included in Patagonia.
The name Patagonia is said to be derived from Patagones, as the Tehuelche Indians, the region’s original inhabitants, were called by 16th-century Spanish explorers. According to one account, Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese navigator who led the first European expedition into the area, coined that name because the appearance of the Tehuelche reminded him of Patagon, a dog-headed monster in the 16th-century Spanish romance Amadís of Gaul.
Over the whole land there blows a boisterous, cloud-laden wind which raises a haze of dust in summer, but in winter the dust can into thick mud. Temperatures are moderaterd by the proximity of the sea and are singularly mild, neither rising high during the summer nor falling low during the winter. In the footthills of the Anrdes rainfalls is high, supporting a line of beech forests which run from Nequen to Tierra del Fuego. Amounts of rain decline rapidly as you go east to Eastern Patagonia is more or less desert. Deep crevices or canyons intersect the land from east to west
Few of them contain permanent water, but ground water is easily pumped to the sur-face. The great sheep estancias are along these canyons, sheltered from the wind, and in the depression running north from the Strait of Magellan to Lagos Argentino and Buenos Aires and beyond.