2018 Travels 2 - South America Cruises travel blog

Arica Chile

Arica Chile Map

Arica Chile

Arica Chile

Arica Chile

Arica Chile


Our stop today is in the port of Arica, Chile, our final stop in Chile. The weather is absolutely perfect and it’s about time. When it was too cold to use the hot tub, I didn’t want to. Now that the weather is warming up, the hot tubs are off limits because of the stomach bug still going around.

Arica is an extremely busy port for being as small as it is. We had a very nice “walkabout” in town and got to visit some more street markets. I made note of, but passed by, a McDonalds in one neighborhood. The government furnishes free Wi-Fi in all Public areas, but being a government product, don’t expect much and you won’t be disappointed. I was able to use the Wi-Fi for about two hours and then “fought” it for two more hours trying to post some items to Facebook. Finally gave up and paid the ship .50 cents a minute to use their Wi-Fi. Another item of note was the politeness of the drivers in this town. They ALWAYS give the right-of-way to the pedestrian to the point of insisting that you cross before they move again or a fight may break out.

And now for your mandatory history lesson:

Arica is a commune and a port city with a population of 196,590 in the Arica Province of northern Chile. It is Chile's northernmost city, being located only 11 miles south of the border with Peru. The city is the capital of both the Arica Province and the Arica and Parinacota Region. Arica has a mild, temperate climate with some of the lowest annual rainfall rates anywhere in the world, consequently there are rarely any clouds over Arica. Arica is located at the bend of South America's western coast known as the Arica Bend or Arica Elbow. At the location of the city are two lush valleys that provide fruit for export. With such a low rainfall rate I don’t know how they get anything to grow, but that is one of the very good reasons that I am not a farmer…… or one of many other occupations.

Arica is an important port for a large inland region of South America. The city serves a free port for Bolivia and manages a substantial part of that country's trade. In addition it is the end station of the Bolivian oil pipeline beginning in Oruro. The city's strategic position is enhanced by being next to the Pan-American Highway, being connected to both Tacna in Peru and La Paz in Bolivia by railroad and being served by an international airport.

Its mild weather has made Arica known as the "city of the eternal spring" in Chile while its beaches are frequented by Bolivians. The city was an important port already during Spanish colonial rule. Chile seized the city from Peru in 1880 following the War of the Pacific and was recognized as Chilean by Peru in 1929.

Archaeological findings indicate that Arica was inhabited by different native groups dating back 10,000 years. Spaniards settled the land under captain Lucas Martinez de Begazo in 1541, and in 1570, the area was grandly retitled as "La Muy Ilustre y Real Ciudad San Marcos de Arica" (the very illustrious and royal city of San Marcos of Arica). (And based on our travels here, I don’t think the Spanish can say ANYTHING using short words). By 1545, Arica was the main export entrepot for Bolivian silver coming down from Potosí, which then possessed the world's largest silver mine. Arica thus held the crucial role as one of the leading ports of the Spanish Empire. The envious riches made Arica the target for pirates, buccaneers, and privateers, among whom Francis Drake, Thomas Cavendish, Richard Hawkins, Joris van Spilbergen, John Watling, Simon de Cordes, Leandro de Valencia, Bartholomew Sharp, William Dampier, and John Clipperton all took part in looting the city.

Following the collapse of Spanish rule, in 1821, Arica was part of the recently independent Peruvian Republic. The Peruvian Constitution of 1823 regards it as a province of the Department of Arequipa. In 1855, Peru inaugurated the Arica-Tacna railroad, one of the first in Latin America line and which still functions today. The earthquake of August 13, 1868 struck near the city with an estimated magnitude of 8.0 to 9.0. Estimates on the death toll vary greatly, some estimates have the number at 25,000 to 70,000 people. Others estimate that the population of Arica was less than 3,000 people and the death toll was around 300. It triggered a tsunami, measurable across the Pacific in Hawaii, Japan and New Zealand. As Arica lies very close to the seduction zone known as the Peru–Chile Trench where the Nazca Plate dives beneath the South American Plate, the city is subject to mega thrust earthquakes.

In 1958, the Chilean Government established the "Junta de Adelanto de Arica" (Board of Development for Arica), which promulgated many tax incentives for the establishment of industries, such as vehicle assembly plants, a tax-free zone, and a casino, among others. Many car manufacturers opened plants in Arica, such as Citroën, Peugeot, Volvo, Ford and General Motors, which produced the Chevrolet LUV pickup until 2008. In 1975, together with Chile's new open economy policies, the "Junta de Adelanto de Arica" was abolished.

Near the city is the Azapa Valley, an oasis where vegetables and Azapa olives are grown. Economically, it is an important port for Chilean ore, and its tropical latitude, dry climate, and the city's beach, have made Arica a popular tourist destination. It is also a center of rail communication with Bolivia and has its own international airport. Arica has strong ties with the city of Tacna, Peru; many people cross the border daily to travel between the cities, partly because many services (for example, dentists) are cheaper on the Peruvian side. Arica is connected to Tacna in Peru and to La Paz in Bolivia by separate railroad lines.

More than 10 miles of beaches, many known for the quality of surfing, span across the Coastal Range in the northern sector. The harbored location makes these beaches unique from other cities in Chile in terms of topography. Passenger train services on the Arica–La Paz railway ceased in 1996, but as of 2017 there were proposals to restart services from Arica as a tourist attraction (and for freight). In 2011, Chile announced plans to privatize the Port of Arica. These were opposed by Bolivia, as Arica is its main sea port.

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