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On the Chile side of the Andes, Patagonia is said to be the region from the town of Puerto Montt and South. This narrow strip is defined by its temperate rain forest and rugged fjord landscape. On the Argentina side, Patagonia is defined by the windswept steppes of the South beginning in the province of Neuquen. These steppes are best described as steps of plateaus appearing as high plains with little vegetation. The Argentina side of the Andes provides a gradual descent to the Atlantic. It is commonly said that the root of the word Patagonia comes from 'Pata' meaning feet and 'Gonia' meaning large. The folklore is that when the Spanish arrived and saw snowshoe-like prints in the snow on the coast, they figured that the native peoples had big feet - thus the word Patagonia.
Read Wikipedia's version of Patagonia.