Past Cities

Arica, Arica y Parinacota, Chile

Arica is a city located in the far north of Chile, in the region of Arica y Parinacota, near the border with Peru. The city has a long and complex history that has been shaped by its geography, politics, and people.

The earliest known inhabitants of the Arica region were the Chinchorro people, who lived in the area around 7,000 years ago. They were a fishing and hunting culture that is known for their mummification practices, which are considered to be the oldest in the world. The Chinchorro people were eventually displaced by the Tiwanaku culture, which emerged in the region around 400 AD. The Tiwanaku were a powerful Andean civilization that controlled a vast territory in what is now Bolivia, Peru, and Chile.

During the 16th century, Arica was conquered by the Spanish, who established a port and used it as a base for the exploitation of the region's resources. Arica was a strategic location for the Spanish, as it was the only port between Lima and La Paz, and it provided a link between the two most important cities in the Spanish Empire. The Spanish also built a fortress in Arica to protect the port from pirates and other European powers.

In the early 19th century, Arica played a key role in the wars of independence that were fought throughout South America. Chilean forces, led by General Manuel Bulnes, defeated the Spanish at the Battle of Arica in 1820, which marked the end of Spanish rule in the region. In the years that followed, Arica became a center for commerce and trade, as it was located at the intersection of several important trade routes.

During the 19th century, Arica's population grew rapidly, thanks to the influx of immigrants from all over the world. Many Europeans, including Germans, Italians, and British, came to Arica to work in the port and in other industries. Chinese immigrants also arrived in Arica, and they played a significant role in the development of the city's agriculture sector.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Arica was affected by a series of natural disasters, including earthquakes, floods, and droughts. These events had a significant impact on the city's population and economy, as they destroyed much of the city's infrastructure and caused widespread damage to the region's agriculture.

During the 20th century, Arica was also affected by political instability and conflict. In the 1970s, the city was the site of a significant battle between Chilean and Peruvian forces, which resulted in the loss of thousands of lives. The conflict was sparked by a territorial dispute between the two countries over the border region near Arica.

Despite these challenges, Arica has continued to grow and develop in recent years. The city's population currently stands at around 200,000 people, and it is home to a thriving tourism industry, thanks to its warm climate and beautiful beaches. Arica is also an important center for commerce and trade, and it is the site of several important infrastructure projects, including a new international airport and a modern port facility.

Arica is a city with a rich and complex history that has been shaped by its geography, politics, and people. From the Chinchorro mummies to the modern airport, Arica has undergone a great transformation over the centuries. Despite its challenges, Arica remains a vibrant and dynamic city that is home to a diverse and resilient population.