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provincia (province), southern Argentina, part of the region known as Patagonia, bounded by the Atlantic Ocean (east) and Chile (west) and having an area of 86,751 square miles (224,686 square km). To the west, the forested, fertile Andean foothills are interspersed with lakes. The Los Alerces National Park (463,400 acres [187,500 hectares]) includes glaciated mountains, alpine lakes, rivers, and forests. To the east are isolated mountain ranges, salt flats, and salt lakes. Chubut River crosses the province west to east. The Valdes Peninsula juts into the Atlantic in northeast Chubut province, separating the San Jose (north) and Nuevo (south) gulfs. San Jose Gulf was officially decreed a wildlife sanctuary in 1974 in an attempt to protect the breeding, calving, and mating areas of the right whales, orcas, and elephant seals.