El Calafate was founded in 1927 and lies bellow the hill of the same name, on the southern shore of Lago Argentino, 320km west by road from Rio Gallegos and 3000km southwest of the city of Buenos Aires: the capital of Argentina. It took its name from a thorny bush found all over Patagonia, but especially in Southern Santa Cruz. This bush (Berberis buxifolia) has charming yellow flowers in spring and yields edible purple berries in summer.
Nowadays, Calafate, with a population of about 17000, sustains almost its entire economy by the tourist growth in Los Glaciares National Park. The other important activity in the area is sheep farming; however it seems to be in decline in the late years, since some of them have become tourist farms.
The town has and international airport since the year 2000 and is connected with Rio Gallegos by road. In addition, there are routes to El Chalten and Puerto Natales in Chile too.
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