Statsraad Lehmkuhl visits Valparaíso April 29 - May 1, 2022
Valparaíso is an important port city in Chile, just 120 kilometers west of the capital Santiago. With its surroundings, the city has around 800,000 inhabitants, and is the second largest metropolitan area in Chile.
A short and wide headland protects the city in the west, but otherwise it lies quite unprotected against the Pacific Ocean. Before the Spaniards came here in 1536, the area was inhabited by Indians, who engaged in fishing and agriculture. Valparaíso continued to be a small village until the early 19th century. Then the first pier was built, and the town grew on landfills along the beach.
When Chile became independent from Spain in 1818, the city became the harbour for the navy, which still has its main base here.
As ship traffic around the tip of South-America increased, the city became a widely used port for ships heading further north, or west across the Pacific Ocean. Trade increased, and people moved in from England, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. At the end of the 19th century, 160,000 people lived here.
Today, the National Assembly, the Ministry of Fisheries, the Ministry of Culture, the Customs authorities and the Chilean Navy are located in the city. Valparaíso has several universities and colleges. The historic center, built in the 19th century, is well-preserved and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the city is a popular tourist destination.
Ship traffic into Valparaíso declined sharply when the Panama Canal opened in 1914, but shipping and cruise are still important industries.
Earthquakes are frequent along this part of the Pacific coast. The continental plate below the eastern part of the Pacific Ocean slides under the South American plate here, and this slow collision give rise to the volcanic activity along the Andes.
Earthquakes have destroyed parts of Valparaíso in 1730, 1822, 1906, 1985 and most recently in 2010. During the earthquake in 1906 almost 3000 people died.
Dry and mild
The climate in Valparaíso is characterized by its proximity to the ocean. It is rarely more than 30 degrees C in summer, and rarely below zero in winter. It is quite dry here all year round, but fog is blowing in from the sea from time to time.
Normal maximum temperature in April: 17.9 ℃
Normal precipitation in April: 13.3 mm