Tue, July 17th, 2012 - By

Spotlight on Arica, Chile

The city of Arica in northern Chile is only 18 km from the border with Peru, to which it originally belonged until the end of the Pacific war. It was then annexed to Chile as part of the treaty of Ancon. But the history of the area where Arica was built goes back at least ten thousand years.

Arica city was founded by the Spaniards in 1541 and its port used for exporting Bolivian silver. The 1855-built, 53 km long Arica-Tacna railroad is still in use.

An 8 to 9 Richter scale point earthquake in 1868 devastated Arica and its geological position means another earthquake of similar magnitude may strike at any time. Nevertheless, Arica’s highly populated today, not least due to the generous tax concessions that have permitted several car manufacturers to build large plants since 1958.

Today, Arica’s port and attached rail network are mainly used for the transport of Chilean ore. However, Arica’s very pretty location, the warm and dry climate and the great beaches also attract many tourists. An International airport and easy rail communication to La Paz in Bolivia and the city of Tacna in Peru, also make travel popular for locals, not least for the provision of cheaper services across the border.

In the city, you can visit the Morro de Arica, a 139m tall steep hill, which served as the last line of defence for Peruvian soldiers until it was captured by Chilean troops during the 1880 War of the Pacific. Azapa Valley, also by Arica, is a pretty, verdant and productive oasis used for supplying the city with vegetables.

Other tourist attractions include the Cathedral de San Marcos, the lively and colourful Plaza Colón in downtown Arica and the opulent Casino. The railway station (Arica-La Paz) is pretty characterful and the Archaeological and Anthropological Museums are very interesting.

Over 20 km of pristine beaches, such as  Chinchorro, Las Machas and La Lisera, and some others with world-class surfing, plus the huge Chungará Lake within the Lauca National Park will provide hours of entertainment. Don’t miss the heated underground waters with medicinal properties at Termas de Jurasi near Putre.

Photo credits: AlbertoJohn @jetpunk, Randal Sheppard, MeRyan,

Karen Bryan

As well as writing about travel, Karen Bryan offers tips on saving money, frugal living and how to live well on less, on her site Help Me To Save

Posted : Tuesday, July 17th, 2012 at 10:00
Category : Spotlight
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