Before the population explosion in Ushuaia, Puerto Williams in Chile was considered the southernmost city in the world; however, by referring to the notion of city and its threshold of 20,000 inhabitants established by the United Nations, Ushuaia with its 57,000 inhabitants has gained this title.

Ushuaia was founded on 12 October 1884 and is situated at the end of the eponymous bay opening of Canal Beagle. During most of the first half of the 20th century, the city sprouted up around a prison for particularly dangerous criminals. It was built there as the Argentinian government was inspired by the example of the British convicts in Australia – the theory being that escaping from a prison on such an isolated island would be practically impossible. The prisoners thus became settlers and their main activity was to cut wood on the grounds surrounding the prison and to build the city. Today, Ushuaia is the capital of Tierra del Fuego and the South Atlantic Islands. Almost the entire economy of the city is linked to tourism in both a direct and an indirect way as it is the starting and ending point for the vast majority of expeditions to Antarctica.