Capital City: Río Gallegos - 79.144 inhabitants (Censo 2001).
Main City: Río Gallegos, Puerto Deseado, Puerto Santa Cruz, Caleta Olivia, Yacimientos Río Turbio, 28 de noviembre, El Calafate, Puerto San Julián, Pico Truncado, Las Heras, Perito Moreno.
It has two totally different landscapes, the one of barren plateau, in the central region; and the mountainous one of the Patagonian Andean region.
The province of Santa Cruz is bounded by the provinces of Chubut on the North and Chile on the West.
In this last region, the precipitations are superior to 500 annual mm, making possible the existence of a typical forest. While the center of the province is a barren steppe because of the low precipitations level.
Contrastan dos paisajes, el de meseta árida, propio de la región central; y el montañoso lacustre de la región andino patagónica.
En esta última región, las precipitaciones son superiores a los 500 mm. anuales, haciendo posible la existencia de una formación boscosa típica. Por el contrario, la falta de lluvias convierte el centro y este de la provincia en una árida estepa.
Perito Moreno Glacier
Cueva de las Manos - Río Pinturas
Weather Conditions at Río Gallegos
Weather Conditions at San Julian
In the western region, throughout the Mountain range of the Andes, the climate is of humid cold type. In the center and this, the climate is of Patagonian barren type: cold, dry and with little rains that do not surpass the 200 annual mm.
The average temperatures are 13°C during the summer, and 3° in winter with temperatures of down to -25°. Even though precipitations on the ice-sheet area at the west are common, rain is scarce in the entire province, with an average of 200 mm per year. Strong winds blow all year around.
The cold weather-arid steppe is crossed by a few rivers that produce fertile valleys; Deseado River, Santa Cruz River, Gallegos River, Coyle River, Chico River and Pinturas River.
The lakes of Buenos Aires Lake (2,240 km², 881 km² in Argentina), Cardiel Lake (460 km²), Viedma Lake (1082 km²), Argentino Lake (1560 km²), Pueyrredón Lake, Belgrano Lake and San Martín Lake (1.013 km²) are all on the west, product of thaw of the glaciers, but due to the low temperatures, their shores are not used for agriculture.
In the Andes region the coniferous forests or other species of perennial leaves predominate. The most common species are the sour cherry, ñire and lenga. Below the trees level is possible to find shrubs like calafate. At level of the ground numerous plants like the wild india berries stand out, amancay, terrestrial orquídeas and ferns.
In the plateaus that extend from the Andes to the Atlantic Ocean the only vegetation is shrubs (coirón, colapiche) of small leaves and thorns, and low bushes.
In the Andean region is plenty of Patagonian foxes, ferrets, eagles, and the condors, being the last one the biggest flying bird of the world. In the rivers and lakes, the native species are puyén, the patagonian mackerel and perch. Other species are trout and salmon, which are very required for the sport fishing.
In the plateaus inhabit the choique or Patagonian rhea, the guanaco, Patagonian hare, rodents of small size, small lizards and lizards.
In the Atlantic coast wolf seals of two hairs can be found, austral dolphins and whales. Between the birds there is albatross, petreles, penguins, gulls.