With a beautiful setting on the Gulf of Reloncavi, 630 mi/1,015 km south of Santiago, Puerto Montt, Chile's fastest-growing city, is the gateway for the "Inside Passage" ferry to Puerto Natales and cruises to the western Patagonian fjords, and the starting point for the Southern Highway. Initially settled by German immigrants who spread throughout the southern lakes district, Puerto Montt dates from 1853, but little remains of its early German heritage, which is better glimpsed at nearby Puerto Varas (which also has better accommodations).
Today, the economy is primarily based on forest products and fishing; its port of Angelmo has exceptional fish and seafood, especially the centolla (king crabs) and locos (abalones). There are several national parks in the vicinity.
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