Pre-reading Questions:1. What country is Valparaiso in?
2. What countris are Chile facing?
Brief DescriptionThe colonial city of Valparaiso presents an excellent example of late19th-century urban and architectural development in Latin America. In its natural amphitheatre-like setting, the city is characterized by a vernacular urban fabric adapted to the hillsides that are dotted with a great variety of church spires. It contrasts with the geometrical layout utilized in the plain. The city has well preserved its interesting early industrial infrastructures, such as the numerous ‘elevators’ on the steep hillsides.
Justification for InscriptionCriterion iii: Valparaiso is an exceptional testimony to the early phase of globalisation in the late 19th century, when it became the leading merchant port on the sea routes of the Pacific coast of South America.
First InhabitantsSigns indicating the presence of groups of hunter-gatherers from around 12,000 years ago have been found in the southern area of Chile. They moved throughout this inhospitable area following large mammals, such as the extinct mylodont and mastodon. The last surviving representative of these people was the Ona or Selknam group that disappeared from Tierra del Fuego, in the region of Magallanes during the second half of the 20th century.
After climatic changes that took place 9,000 years ago, a variety of settlements began to emerge along the extensive Chilean coast. The hunting and gathering of marine resources and products from the wilds was the main sustenance for these people, as suggested by the population growth after this date. The social and economic organization some of these groups achieved is a further such indication. In the northern desert areas, the artificial mummification of human bodies predates similar processes in Egypt by several thousand years.
16th Century, the Spanish Conquest and Colonial PeriodHernando de Magallanes (Magellan) was the first European to sight what is now Chilean territory. Seeking a pass towards the west, in the year 1520 this seafarer crossed the strait that bears his name today. Later, in 1535, Diego de Almagro organized an expedition in Peru proceeding to explore the region towards the south while undergoing great hardships. In 1536 he managed to get to the Aconcagua River (32oS). Since neither gold nor riches were found, he decided to return to his point of origin.
Years later, Pedro de Valdivia, a Spanish captain, undertook a new campaign to occupy the territories to the south of Peru, from where he set out with a group of 150 men. After a year of traveling overland, on February 12, 1541, he founded the city of Santiago, the current capital of Chile. Valdivia continued on with his conquests to the south, extending his influence beyond the Biobio River (37oS).
Chile in the 18th CenturySince the beginning of the conquest, Chilean society tended to develop a certain degree of independence, mainly due to its enormous distance from the Viceroyalty of Peru and from Spain. Municipal councils, particularly those from Santiago, served as defenders of the interests and aspirations of the nascent society. Local authorities, however, were frequently not capable of carrying out royal orders. The Bourbon kings in Spain did not accept this type of autonomy in Latin America and set their sights on establishing more effective control over their overseas dominions. From the economic point of view, the new policies were directed at making the Americas a large market and a source of wealth for the Crown.
19th Century, Independence and the Search for a new Political SystemUnder the government of Joaquin Prieto, Minister Diego Portales used all his resources to impose a political solution he had advocated for almost ten years as an active businessman: the need for a strong, impersonal, respected and respectable Executive Branch. This idea was crystallized in the Constitution of 1833, which remained in force for almost 100 years. From the first half of the 19th century on, Chile emerged as an exception in terms of the establishment of an orderly government when compared to the anarchy ravaging the rest of Latin America.
GOBIERNO DE CHILE
by Alice Utsugi, Aoyama Gakuin College of Economics
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