Santiago is the capital and largest city of Chile, and the centre of its
largest conurbation (Greater Santiago). It is located in the country's
central valley, at an elevation of 520 m (1,700 ft) AMSL. Although Santiago
is the capital, legislative bodies meet in nearby Valparaíso.
Chile's steady economic growth has transformed Santiago into one of Latin
America's most modern metropolitan areas, with extensive suburban
development, dozens of shopping malls, and impressive high-rise architecture
It is an Alpha World City and has some of Latin America's most modern
transportation infrastructure, such as the growing Santiago Metro
(underground train system) and the new Costanera Norte, a toll-based highway
system that passes below downtown and connects the Eastern and Western
extremes of the city in a 25-minute drive. Santiago is the regional
headquarters to many multinationals, and a regional financial centre.
Throughout this article the term Santiago will normally refer to the
metropolis (Greater Santiago) area; however, there are several other
entities which bear the name of Santiago and need to be explained: The
commune (comuna) of Santiago (sometimes referred to as Santiago Centro), is
a subdivision of the Santiago Province, which is itself a subdivision of the
Santiago Metropolitan Region. Greater Santiago includes the majority of the
Santiago Province, and some areas of neighboring provinces (see Political
divisions). The Great Santiago inhabitants are called Santiaguinos/as. The
commune of Santiago is administered by the Santiago municipality
(Municipalidad de Santiago), a separate legal entity with an elected mayor
and council. It encompasses the oldest part of Greater Santiago, enclosed by
old rail lines, including downtown, historical neighborhoods and all major
government infrastructure, including the government palace La Moneda. It has
an area of 22.4 km2 (8.6 sq mi) and a population of 200,792 (2002 census).
Founding of the city
Santiago was founded by Spanish Conquistador Pedro de Valdivia on February
12, 1541 with the name Santiago del Nuevo Extremo, as a homage to Saint
James and Extremadura, Valdivia's birth place in Spain. The founding
ceremony was held on Huelén Hill (later renamed Cerro Santa Lucía). Valdivia
chose the location of Santiago because of its climate, abundant vegetation
and the ease with which it could be defended—the Mapocho River then split
into two branches and rejoined further downstream, forming an island. The
Inca ruler Manco Cápac II warned the new rulers that his people Indigenous
people would be hostile to the occupiers. The Spanish invaders had to battle
against hunger caused by this resistance. Pedro de Valdivia ultimately
succeeded in stabilizing the food supply and other resources needed for
Santiago to thrive.
The floor of the new town consisted of straight roads of 12 Varas (14.35 m)
width, in equal intervals of 138 Varas (165.08 m) or perpendicular to each
other were. With nine roads in the east-west direction and 15 in the
north-south direction, there were 126 Blocks that formed the so-called
Manzanas" or square cut.
The resistance of the indigenous population continued and resulted in a
series of further conflicts. On the September 11 of 1541 began an organised
uprising of Picunche and Michimalongo-led attack on Santiago, which lead to
a war of three years. At the time the Conquistadores were in a very
precarious situation. Suffering from persistent food shortages and were in
almost complete isolation from the rest of the world.
Pedro de Valdivia sent in January of 1542 an emissary, Alonso de Monroy,
with five tabs to Peru to request help. After 20 harsh months for the
Conquistadors, De Monroy, was back from Peru with a reinforcement goods.
This stopped the isolated and demoralized situation of the soldiers in
Santiago. The uprising ultimately failed and the indigenous population moved
down South and the city remained relatively safe.
While Santiago was on the verge of extinction by the Indian attack, an
earthquake and a series of floods, the city began to settle rapidly. Of the
126 blocks designed by Gamboa, in 1558 and had been occupied forties, and in
1580, the full quote while the land near hosted tens of thousands of head
of livestock. In the architectural field, they begin to build the first
important buildings in the city, highlighting the start of construction in
stone of the first Cathedral in 1561 and the Church of San Francisco in 1572
both being built mainly in Adobe and stone.
In 1767, the corregidor Luis Manuel de Zañartu, began one of the major
architectural works throughout the colonial period: the Bridge Calicanto,
which helped unite the city.
In 1780, Governor Agustín de Jáuregui hired the Italian architect Toesca
Joaquin, who designed, among other important works, the facade of the
Cathedral, La Moneda. The government of Bernardo O'Higgins also opened the
road to Valparaíso in 1791.
On 12 February 1817 the Battle of Chacabuco was held in Colina, which is
located just north of Santiago. There Argentine and Chilean independence
armies, led by José de San Martín and Bernardo O'Higgins fought the Spanish
royalists. Chile subsequently proclaimed on the same day its independence.
During the authoritarian era of the so-called Republic (from 1830 to 1891)
the school system was introduced and the cultural life started to flourish.
In 1843 the Universidad de Chile was founded. In 1888 another university
Universidad Pontificia Católica was also founded. By 1885 there were 189,322
people living in Santiago.
During the years of the Republican era, institutions were created primarily
for educational reasons and they became milestones of the planning period,
as the University of Chile (Universidad de Chile), the Normal School of
preceptors, the School of Arts and Crafts and the Quinta Normal, which
included the Museum of Fine Arts (now Museum of Science and Technology) and
the National Museum of Natural History. In 1851, the first telegraph system
connecting the capital with the Port of Valparaiso was inaugurated.
A new momentum in the urban development of the capital took place during the
so-called "Liberal Republic" and the administration of the city's mayor,
Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna. Among the main works during this period are the
remodeling of the Cerro Santa Lucia which despite its central location was
in very poor shape.
In an effort to transform Santiago, Vicuña Mackenna began construction of
the "Camino de Cintura" that surrounded the whole city, which until then had
an extension similar to the current commune of Santiago. A new redevelopment
of Alameda Ave. finally enshrined the central artery of the city.
With the work of European landscapes in 1873, O'Higgins Park opened. The
park, with a public access, became an point of interest in Santiago due to
the large gardens, lakes and carriages. Similarly, other important buildings
were opened during this era, such as the Teatro Municipal which had many
operas, and the Riding Club. At the same time, James received the
International Exposition, held in 1875 in the grounds of the Quinta Normal.
In terms of transportation, the city became the main hub of the railways at
the national level. The first railroad reached the city on September 14,
1857 in an emerging Central Station of Santiago, which would be opened
permanently in 1884. During those years, the city was connected by rail to
Valparaiso and rail crossing much of the country from north to south. With
regards to urban transport, the streets of Santiago were paved and there
were 1,107 cars in 1875. While 45,000 people used tram services as in daily
Crisis, boom and immigration
The 1930s saw the beginning of a transformation of the city into a modern,
industrialized one. Surrounding the Presidential Palace (La Moneda) was the
administrative district Barrio Cívico with many ministries and other public
facilities. The population increased due to immigration from northern and
southern Chile and by the 1940s it had exceeded the milestone of a million
inhabitants. Immigration continue and by the year of 1960 Santiago's
population had doubled to two million inhabitant. This fast increase in
population led, especially in the poor neighborhoods of the city, to even
worse social conditions than experienced before. Numerous children were
considered malnourished, many families were left homeless and unemployment
was soaring high.
After the victory of Salvador Allende in 1970 the wages of workers and
employees increased 35 to 60 percent. Prices for the rent and important
Grundbedarfsmittel were frozen. Education and health care were made free of
charge. Every child received shoes and a daily liter of free milk
(Gratismilch). The birth rate in the capital region fell by 20 percent. The
focus of the policy was in the expropriation of foreign enterprises and
Santiago in the 20th Century
In the following decades, Santiago flourished and continued to grow with
high rise. In 1940, the city accumulated 952,075 inhabitants, in 1952 this
figure reached 1,350,409 inhabitants, the census of 1960 totaled 1,907,378
Santiago. This growth was reflected in the urbanization of rural areas on
the periphery, where they settled middle-class families with low and stable
housing: in 1930, the urban area had an area of 6,500 hectares, which in
1960 came to 20,900 and 1980 came to 38,296. Although most of the
communities continued to grow, it is mainly concentrated in outlying
communities such as Canyon to the west, north and Conchalí the tank and the
Farm to the south. In the case of the upper class, it began to approach the
sector of the pre-Las Condes and La Reina. The centre, by contrast, has lost
population, leaving more space for the development of trade, banking and
The growth took place without any regulation and started only to be
implemented during the 1960s with the creation of various development plans
of the Greater Santiago, which reflect the new reality of a city much larger
. In 1958 the Plan was launched in Santiago and inter proposing the
organization of urban territory, setting a limit of 38,600 hectares and
semi-urban, for a maximum population of 3,260,000 inhabitants, the
construction of new roads (such as Avenida Américo Vespucio Circunvalación
and the Pan American highway), the widening of the existing and the
establishment of "industrial cordons. The celebration of the World Cup in
1962 gave new impetus to the improvement works of the city. In 1966 he
established the Metropolitan Park of Santiago in the Cerro San Cristóbal and
MINVU began eradicating callampas populations and construction of new homes
and remodeling San Borja, which was built near the Diego Portales Building.
In 1967 was inaugurated the new International Airport Pudahuel, and after
years of discussion, in 1969 it would begin construction of the Metro de
Santiago, the first phase would run under the western section of the Alameda
and would be inaugurated in 1975. Metro became one of the most prestigious
of the city and in subsequent years to expand, reaching two perpendicular
lines at the end of 1978. Telecommunications have an important development,
as reflected by the construction of the Torre Entel, which since its
construction in 1975 would be one of the symbols of the capital to be the
tallest structure in the country for two decades.
After the coup of 1973 and the establishment of the military regime, urban
planning had no major changes until the start of 1980, when the government
adopted a neoliberal economic model and the role of organizer of the state
going to market. In 1979 the master plan is amended, extending the urban
radio to more than 62,000 hectares for housing development, causing a
further expansion of the city, arriving at 40,619 has extended the early
1990s, especially in the area Florida in the 1992 census became the country
s most populous municipality with 328,881 inhabitants. Meanwhile, a strong
earthquake struck the city on March 3, 1985, which caused few casualties but
left many homeless and destroyed many old buildings.
Economic crisis and recovery
Starting in 1981, Santiago (and Chile as a whole), went into a deep economic
and financial crisis. The Chilean solution to the crisis was heterodox in
the sense that many policies appeared to have been arbitrary, and policy
mistakes were made and corrected along the way. However, the economy
recovered relatively quickly, and since has built a strong financial sector
that allowed the country to avoid the financial turmoil observed during 1995
and 1997-98 in other emerging market economies.
The city lies in the centre of the Santiago Basin, a large bowl-shaped
valley consisting of a broad and fertile plain surrounded by mountains. It
is flanked by the main chain of the Andes on the east and the Chilean
Coastal Range on the west. On the north, it is bound by the Cordón de
Chacabuco, a transverse mountain range of the Andes, whereas at the southern
border lies Angostura de Paine, where an elongated spur of the Andes almost
reaches the Coastal Range. Santiago Basin is part of the Intermediate
Depression and is remarkably flat, interrupted only by a few hills. Among
those are Cerro Renca, Cerro Blanco and Cerro Santa Lucía.
The Andes mountains around Santiago are quite tall, culminating in Tupungato
volcano at 6,570 m (21,555 ft). Other volcanoes include Tupungatito, San
José and Maipo. Cerro El Plomo is the highest mountain visible from Santiago
s urban area.
Santiago is situated mainly on a plain known as the Santiago basin. This
basin is part of the Intermediate Depression and is clearly delimited by the
string of Chacabuco in the north, the Andes Mountains in the east, the
narrowness of Paine in the south and the Cordillera de la Costa.
Approximately has a length of 80 km in a north-south direction and 35 km
from east to west.
For hundreds of millions of years, the current territory of the city was
covered by the ocean and marine sediment, the only land mass near the
existing Coastal Cordillera. The morphology of the region begin to take its
present form since the late Paleozoic, when it begins the subduction of the
Nazca Plate under the South American plate, then belonging to the continent
of Gondwana. This subduction generated foldings of the crust from the
Triassic, lifting the rocks that give rise to the Andes. Subsequently, new
activities generate tectonic subsidence of the great rock mass forming the
At present, Santiago lies mainly in the plain of the basin, with an altitude
between 400 in the western areas and reaching the 540 on the Plaza Baquedano
presented some hills in the area of Cerrillos. The metropolitan area has
surrounded some of these islands, mountains, as in the case of Cerro Santa
Lucia, Cerro Blanco, the Renca Calán and that 800 meters is the highest
point of the city. Southwest of the city there is a string of rocky hills
several islands within the highlighting Cerro Chena. To the west are also
presented some of the main stage of the Cordillera de la Costa, the Oak Hill
High with 2185 meters of altitude, and the Maipo River area alone in the
mountain range loses height.
Smog, seen in Santiago's skies, is a major environmental problem.
During recent decades, urban growth has expanded the boundaries of the city
to the east closer to the Andean Precordillera. Even in areas such as La
Dehesa, Lo Curro and El Arrayan has been reached to overcome the barrier of
1000 meters of altitude. Some low-lying foothills of the Andes emerge and
goes into the basin, as is the If the mountain range of The Pyramid and the
hill Cerro San Cristobal, in the northeastern sector of Santiago.
To the east, stands the massive call Ramon Sierra, a mountain chain formed
in the foothills of the Precordillera due to the action of the fault Ramon,
reaching 3296 meters at the Cerro de Ramon. 20 km further east is the
Cordillera of the Andes with its mountain ranges and volcanoes, many of
which exceed 6,000 m and in which some glaciers are maintained. The higher
the Tupungato volcano with 6570 meters, located near the volcano Tupungatito
of 5913 meters of altitude. To the northeast lie Lead Hill (5,424 meters)
and Nevado El Plomo 6070 meters in altitude. To the southeast of the capital
meanwhile, are located on the Nevado Piuquenes (6,019 meters) volcano San
Jose (5,856 m) and the volcano Maipo (5,323 m). From these peaks, the
Tupungatito as San José and Maipo are active volcanoes.
Santiago has a mild Mediterranean climate: relatively hot dry summers
(November to March) with temperatures reaching up to 35 degrees Celsius (95
degrees Fahrenheit) on the hottest days; winters (June to August) are more
humid with cold mornings, typical maximum daily temperatures of 15 degrees
Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit), and minimums of a few degrees above
freezing. Occasional snowfall occurs in the city, and may extend throughout
the city, though this happens infrequently (about every 8–10 years). Mean
rainfall is 360 mm per year and is heavily concentrated in the cooler months
The climate of Santiago is a warm-temperate climate with winter rainfall and
prolonged dry season, better known as continental Mediterranean climate.
Within the main climatic characteristics of Santiago is the concentration of
about 80% of rainfall during the austral winter months (May to September),
varying between 50 and 80 mm of rain fall during these months. That amount
contrasts with figures for the months corresponding to a very dry season,
caused by an anticyclonic dominance continued for about seven or eight
months, mainly during the summer months between December and March. This
season, the water drop does not exceed 4 mm on average. These rains are
usually composed only of rain, as the snowfall and hail is produced mainly
in the sectors of the Precordillera about 1500 meters, in some cases,
nevazones affect the city but only on its eastern sectors, where in very
rare opportunity extended to the rest of the city.
The temperatures vary throughout the year from an average of 20°C in January
to 8°C in June and July. In the summer, January is hot, easily reaching over
30°C and a record high close to 37 °C, while nights are generally pleasant
and slightly cooler without lowering of 15°C. For his part, during autumn
and winter the temperature drops and is slightly lower than the 10°C, the
temperature may even drop slightly from 0°C, especially during the morning,
and its historic low of -6 , 8°C in 1976.
Santiago's location within a watershed is one of the most important factors
in the climate of the city. The coastal mountain range serves as a "screen
climate" to oppose the spread of marine influence, contributing to the
increase in annual and daily thermal oscillation (the difference between the
maximum and minimum daily temperatures can reach 14°C) and maintaining low
relative humidity close to an annual average of 70%. It also prevents the
entry of air masses with the exception of some coastal low clouds that
penetrate to the basin through the river valleys.
Prevailing winds are from the southwest direction, with an average of 15 km
/ h, especially during the summer as in winter calm prevail.
Thermal inversion (a meteorological phenomenon whereby a stable layer of
warm air holds down colder air close to the ground) causes high levels of
smog and air pollution to be trapped and concentrate within the Central
Valley during winter months. In the 1990s air pollution fell by about
one-third, but there has been little progress since 2000.
As of March 2007, only 61% of the wastewater in Santiago was treated, which
increased up to 71% by the end of the same year. However, the Mapocho river,
which crosses the city from the north-east to the south-west of the Central
Valley, remains contaminated by household, agricultural and industrial
sewage, and by upstream copper-mining waste (there are a number of copper
mines in the Andes east of Santiago), which is dumped unfiltered into the
river. Laws force industry and local governments to process all their
wastewater, but are loosely enforced. There are now a number of large
wastewater processing and recycling plants under construction. There are
ongoing plans to decontaminate the river and make it navigable.
Noise levels on the main streets are high, mostly because of noisy diesel
buses. Diesel trucks and buses are also major contributors to winter smog. A
lengthy replacement process of the bus system began in 2005 and will last
until 2010. However, a major source of Santiago air pollution year-round is
the smelter of El Teniente copper mine. Nevertheless, the government does
not usually report it as being a local pollution source as it is just
outside the reporting area of the Santiago Metropolitan Region, being 110 km
(70 miles) from downtown.
Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport is Santiago's national
and international airport. 15 minutes from downtown through the urban
highways (Costanera Norte-Vespucio Norte).
Despite the long history, there are only a few historical buildings from the
Spanish colonial period in the city, because Santiago - as the rest of the
country - was regularly hit by earthquakes. The buildings from this period
include the Casa Colorada (1769), the Church San Francisco (1586) and Posada
del Corregidor (1750). Another reason that it lacks old buildings from this
time is the new richness of Chile. At the time of the Spanish colony, the
city had economically only a low impact, the upswing was only after
independence. This explains the low age of many buildings built mainly in
neoclassic style. The Cathedral on the central square (Plaza de Armas), 1745
according to plans by Joaquim Toesca built, ranks as the sights as Palacio
de La Moneda, the Classicist Presidential Palace until 1981 showed even the
Einschüsse, General Pinochet troops by the coup against the democratically
elected President Salvador Allende 1973 had left. The original building was
between 1784 and 1805 of the architect Joaquín Toesca. Since 1846, the
Presidential Palace is home to the Government of's.
Other buildings at the Plaza de Armas are finished on 1882 and between 1804
and 1807 built Palacio de la real Audjencia, of 18. September 1810 - today
date of Nationalfeiertages - met the first Government of the country. The
Centre houses the historical museum with 12,000 exhibits. In the South-East
of the square is the built in 1893 blue Eisenkontruktion of Edwards
Kaufhauses (Edificio commercial Edwards) and the 1769 finished colonial
building the "Casa Colorada", the historical city museum Close is the
(Teatro Municipal) Theatre. In 1906 by an earthquake destroyed building was
built of the French architect Brunet of Edward Baines 1857. Not far from the
theatre the Mansión Subercaseaux (today seat Banco Edwards) and the National
Library (one of the largest libraries of South America). "" In opposite
group the previous National Convention, the law courts and the Royal custom
s House (Palacio real Casa de Aduana) with the Museum of pre-Columbian art.
A fire destroyed the building in 1895. It was then rebuilt and reopened 1901
in neoclassic style. The first Chilean National Congress was 4. July 1811
decision (1810) the Government junta in Santiago formed by. The Congress was
deposed under the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1989) and
after the dictatorship in Valparaíso on 11. Newly constituted March 1990.
The Plaza Montt is the building of the Justice Palace (Palacio de Tribun
Musicales). The building was between 1907 and 1926 of the architect Emilio
Doyére. It is home to the Supreme Court (Corte comparison de Justicia). The
Kollegialgericht with 21 judges is the highest judiciary in Chile. The
judges be proposed by the judges of the Supreme Court and appointed by the
President on lifetime. The building is also home of the Supreme Court of
At the Plaza Montt is the building of the Justice Palace (Palacio de
Tribunales). The building was created from 1907 to 1926 after plans by the
architect Emilio Doyére. It is the seat of the Supreme Court (Corte Suprema
de Justicia). The panel of 21 judges is the highest judicial power in Chile.
The judges are appointed by the judges of the Supreme Court and proposed by
the President appointed for life. The building is also headquarters of the
Supreme Court of the country.
Calle Bandera leads to 1917 completed the building of the Merchants'
Exchange (Bolsa de Comercio), opened the 1925 "Club de la Unión", to the
Universidad de Chile (1872) and the oldest church in the city, the Iglesia
de San Francisco (1586 to 1628 built ) with the Mary statue "La Virgen del
Socorro" by Pedro de Valdivia. North of the Plaza de Armas, the Paseo Puente
to Santo Domingo Church (1771) and Market (Mercado Central), a powerful iron
construction. In the centre of Santiago is the Torre Entel, a 127.4 meter
high TV tower with observation deck. The tower, completed in 1974. He is one
of the telephone company, ENTEL Chile and serves as a communications centre.
With the Costanera Center, a commercial and architectural landmark of the capital. When completed in 2009 is a combination of jobs, housing, shopping and entertainment venues have been achieved. The project with a total area of 600,000 square meters, includes the 300-meter high "Gran Torre Costanera" (South America's tallest building) and three other commercial buildings with shopping malls, shops, cinemas, an amusement centre, restaurants, hotels, offices and luxury apartments. The four office towers extensive building complex is replaced by a highway and subway connections.