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Montaje de Arica.jpg
Clockwise, from top: Morro de Arica; Arica Cathedral; station of the Tacna-Arica railway; Casa de la Cultura de Arica; Presencias tutelares sculptures; Museum of History and Weapon; Plaza Colón
Bandera de Arica.svg
Escudo de Arica.svg
Coat of arms
Arica y Parinacota location map.svg
Map of Arica y Parinacota Region
Chile location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location in Chile
"City of the eternal spring"
Coordinates(city): 18°28′18″S70°18′20″W / 18.47167°S 70.30556°W / -18.47167; -70.30556 Coordinates: 18°28′18″S70°18′20″W / 18.47167°S 70.30556°W / -18.47167; -70.30556
CountryFlag of Chile.svg  Chile
Region Flag of Arica y Parinacota, Chile.svg  Arica y Parinacota
Province Arica
  Type Municipality
   Alcalde Salvador Urrutia (PRO)
  Total4,799.4 km2 (1,853.1 sq mi)
Area rankArica
2 m (7 ft)
 (2017) [2]
  Density46/km2 (120/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Arican
Time zone UTC−04:00 (CLT)
  Summer (DST) UTC−03:00 (CLST)
Postal code
País+56 582223379
Climate BWh
Website Official website (in Spanish)

Arica ( /əˈrkə/ ə-REE-kə; Spanish:  [aˈɾika] ) is a commune and a port city with a population of 222,619 in the Arica Province of northern Chile's Arica y Parinacota Region. It is Chile's northernmost city, being located only 18 km (11 mi) 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. [3] 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 dissect the Atacama Desert converge: Azapa and Lluta. These valleys provide fruit for export. [4]


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. [4] In addition it is the end station of the Bolivian oil pipeline beginning in Oruro. [4] 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. [4] The city was an important port already during Spanish colonial rule. Chile seized the city from Peru in 1880 during the War of the Pacific, being recognized as Chilean by Peru in 1929. A substantial part of African Chileans live in or trace their origins to Arica.


Archaeological findings indicate that Arica was inhabited by different native groups dating back 10,000 years.

Colonial period

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). 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 a crucial role as one of the leading ports of the Spanish Empire. These enviable riches made Arica the target for pirates, buccaneers, and privateers, among whom Francis Drake, [5] Thomas Cavendish, Richard Hawkins, Joris van Spilbergen, John Watling, Baltazar de Cordes, Bartholomew Sharp, William Dampier, and John Clipperton all took part in looting the city.

Peruvian period (1821–1880)

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 (53 km long), one of the first in Latin America. The rail line still functions today.

The 1868 earthquake devastated the city, leaving it in ruins under the Morro de Arica. Arica after the earthquake (1868).JPG
The 1868 earthquake devastated the city, leaving it in ruins under the Morro de Arica.

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. [6] Others estimate that the population of Arica was less than 3,000 people and the death toll was around 300.[ citation needed ] It triggered a tsunami, measurable across the Pacific in Hawaii, Japan and New Zealand. As Arica lies very close to the subduction zone known as the Peru–Chile Trench where the Nazca Plate dives beneath the South American Plate, the city is subject to megathrust earthquakes.

Chilenization period (1880–1929)

Depiction of the Battle of Arica, 7 June 1880 Batalla de Arica.jpg
Depiction of the Battle of Arica, 7 June 1880

Chilean forces occupied the region following the War of the Pacific. The Treaty of Ancón in 1883 formally acceded the region to Chilean control. The 1929 Tacna-Arica compromise in the Treaty of Lima subsequently restored Tacna to Peru but Arica remained part of Chile.

Modern Arica (1929–present)

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. [7] 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.

The Arica and Parinacota Region was created on October 8, 2007, under Law 20.175, promulgated on March 23, 2007, by President Michelle Bachelet in the city of Arica.

Swedish Toxic waste dumpsite

In 2021, UN human rights experts said they were deeply concerned by the continuous devastating impact on Arica of a dumping of toxic waste by a Swedish company nearly 40 years ago. In 1984-1985, Swedish company Boliden Mineral AB dumped nearly 20,000 tonnes of toxic waste, containing high concentrations of arsenic, mercury, cadmium and lead, in Arica. Boliden paid a local company, Promel Ltda., to receive the waste. The toxic waste - which remains outdoors, uncovered and exposed to nature’s elements - poses a health and security risk including to drinking water systems, given its high content of arsenic. In 2013, 796 Arica residents, including human rights defenders, started legal action in Sweden against Boliden. The Court of Appeal for Northern Norrland held that the claims of the victims were time limited, and the Swedish Supreme Court declined to hear the case. [8]


The morro de Arica is one of the major attractions in the city Morroarica2011.JPG
The morro de Arica is one of the major attractions in the city

According to the 2017 census by the National Statistics Institute, Arica spans an area of 4,799.4 km2 (1,853 sq mi) and has 222,619 inhabitants (110,115 men and 112,504 women). The population grew by 20% (37,351 people) between the 2002 and 2017 censuses. Arica is home to 97.7% of the total population of the region. [2]

The population of Arica is made up of various long-established groups to the region, and other more recent arrivals settled at differing times. Among the long-established groups, the oldest consists of indigenous Amerindians, such as the Aymara, whose presence in the region is of several millennia. These are followed by the second oldest, the local colonial-era groups, which includes local mestizos (of mixed Spanish-Amerindian origin), local criollos (whites of colonial Spanish origin), and local afrodescendants of colonial-era slaves. The third oldest group consists of early post-colonial Chinese Chileans who first arrived as miners and rail workers in the 1890s.

These long-established groups of Ariqueños have been augmented by various later settlers, mostly other criollos and mestizo Chileans from elsewhere around Chile, but also numerous Europeans, who arrived in the 1900s, including more Spaniards arriving from Spain, as well as Italians, Greeks, British, and French. These arrived at different times during the last century.

Some Ariqueños, primarily the indigenous Amerindians, but also the afrodescendants, share cultural affinities to counterpart populations in neighbouring border areas of Peru, and more distantly, Bolivia.

The urban area of Arica has 175,441 inhabitants in an area of 41.89 km2. Arica in 2007 had more than 185,000 inhabitants (not counting the inhabitants of the valleys and Lluta Azapa, with that reach almost to the 194.000 inhabitants). The growing city of Arica spreads outward into the desert and the Peru-Chile border. The Azapa Valley has developed a year-round agricultural economy due to improvements in irrigation and transportation of its products.

The villages that make up the commune are Villa Frontera and San Miguel de Azapa. Some hamlets are Poconchile, Molinas, Sora, Las Maitas and Caleta Vitor.

Arica was made famous in 1970 by the spiritual master Oscar Ichazo when he held a 10-month training there for 50 North Americans from the Esalen Institute in California. The Arica School, based in the United States of America, has influenced thousands of people all over the world.

The commune of Arica is composed of 19 census districts.

Census districts of the Arica commune
#DistrictArea (km2)2002
4San José1.213,216
5Población Chile17.39,086
7José Manuel Balmaceda2.711,984
8Carlos Dittborn2.110,525
9Lauca Park0.44,934
10José Miguel Carrera0.65,836
12Strong Citadel215.928,209
14El Morro0.93,286
17Pedro Blanqui7.325,131
19Las Torres2.911,878

Source: INE 2007 report, "Territorial division of Chile" [9]

Notable residents


Arica is the economical powerhouse of its region. It is an enormous trade and shipping point and vital for the maritimal access of Bolivia.


Morro de Arica. ElMorroDeArica.jpg
Morro de Arica.
The city view from Morro de Arica. AricaViewCoast.jpg
The city view from Morro de Arica.
Arica's Customs Office (Aduana de Arica), built by the Peruvian Government after the 1868 earthquake Arica Aduana 2.jpg
Arica's Customs Office (Aduana de Arica), built by the Peruvian Government after the 1868 earthquake

The Morro de Arica is a steep and tall hill located in the city. Its height is 139 meters above sea level. It was the last bulwark of defence for the Peruvian troops who garrisoned the city. It was assaulted and captured on June 7, 1880, by Chilean troops in the last part of their Campaña del Desierto (Desert Campaign) during the War of the Pacific.

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.


According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Arica has a hot desert climate, abbreviated "BWh" on climate maps. [10] Unlike many other cities with arid climates, Arica seldom sees extreme temperatures throughout the course of the year. Arica is also known as the driest inhabited place on Earth, at least as measured by rainfall: average annual precipitation is 0.76 mm (0.03 inches), as measured at the airport meteorological station. [11]

Climate data for Arica (1981–2010, extremes 1955–present)
Record high °C (°F)33.0
Average high °C (°F)26.0
Daily mean °C (°F)22.4
Average low °C (°F)19.7
Record low °C (°F)7.5
Average precipitation mm (inches)0.3
Average precipitation days0.
Average relative humidity (%)72727274767777777775737275
Mean monthly sunshine hours 2442402522181841311241251391902222402,309
Source 1: Dirección Meteorológica de Chile (precipitation days and humidity 1970–2000), [12] [13] [14] Ogimet (sun 1981–2010) [15]
Source 2: [16] [ permanent dead link ]


As a commune, Arica is a third-level administrative division of Chile administered by a municipal council, headed by an alcalde who is directly elected every four years. The 2008–2012 alcalde is Waldo Sankán Martínez (Independent). [1]

Within the electoral divisions of Chile, Arica is represented in the Chamber of Deputies by Mr. Vlado Mirosevic (Partido Liberal) and Mr. Luis Rocaful as part of the 1st electoral district, which includes the entire Arica and Parinacota Region. The commune is represented in the Senate by Fulvio Rossi Ciocca (PS) and Jaime Orpis Bouchon (UDI) as part of the 1st senatorial constituency (Arica and Parinacota Region and Tarapacá Region).


Arica was one of the four host cities of the 1962 FIFA World Cup, and it was the venue for a Rip Curl Pro Search surfing event that took place from June 20 to July 1, 2007. Arica plays host to a leg of the International Bodyboarding Association's world tour event every year at the notorious "el flops" surf break. The event has been running since 2004.

Tourist attractions

  1. Morro de Arica: the prominent mount rising above the city, affording sweeping views.
  2. Catedral de San Marcos de Arica: the magnificent church designed by Gustave Eiffel was built in the 1870s.
  3. Plaza Colón: the civic heart of the city, the public square is where its residents congregate for celebrations, diversions or just being a part of the community.

Other attractions include the former house of the Governor, the Former Arica Custom House, railway station Arica-La Paz, the Archaeological and Anthropological Museum of San Miguel de Azapa, Sea and Historical Arms and Arica. For evening entertainment there is the Casino de Arica.


More than 20 km 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.

From north to south the beaches are located Las Machas, Chinchorro, del Alacrán, El Laucho, La Lisera, Brava, Arenillas Negras, La Capilla, Corazones and La Liserilla.

Other tourist sites

Chungara Lake Parinacota.jpg
Chungará Lake
The port of Arica. Arica port (Jan. 2008).jpg
The port of Arica.


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). [18]

In 2011, Chile announced plans to privatise the Port of Arica. These were opposed by Bolivia, as Arica is its main sea port. [19]

Chacalluta International Airport is the main airport in Arica and is located 18.5 km north of the city. LATAM Chile, Amaszonas, JetSmart, and Sky Airline have scheduled commercial service to several Chilean airports.

Twin towns – sister cities

Arica is twinned with:

Related Research Articles

War of the Pacific Territorial conflict between Chile and allied Peru and Bolivia (1879–83)

The War of the Pacific, also known as the Saltpeter War and by multiple other names, was a war between Chile and a Bolivian–Peruvian alliance from 1879 to 1884. Fought over Chilean claims on coastal Bolivian territory in the Atacama Desert, the war ended with a Chilean victory, which gained for the country a significant amount of resource-rich territory from Peru and Bolivia. The Chilean Army took Bolivia's nitrate-rich coastal region, and Peru was defeated by the Chilean Navy.

Tacna Place in Peru

Tacna is a city in southern Peru and the regional capital of the Tacna Region. A very commercially active city, it is located only 35 km (22 mi) north of the border with Arica y Parinacota Region from Chile, inland from the Pacific Ocean and in the valley of the Caplina River. It is Peru's tenth most populous city.

Department of Tacna Departments of Peru

Tacna is the southernmost department and region in Peru. The Chilean Army occupied the present-day Tacna Department during the War of the Pacific from 1885 to 1929 when it was reincorporated into Peruvian soil.

Arica Province Province in Arica y Parinacota, Chile

Arica Province is one of two provinces of Chile's northernmost region, Arica y Parinacota. The province is bordered on the north by the Tacna Province of Peru, on the south by the Tamarugal Province in the Tarapacá Region, on the east the Parinacota Province and on the west by the Pacific Ocean. Its capital is the port city of Arica.

Andrés de Santa Cruz 19th-century general and political leader in Peru and Bolivia

Andrés de Santa Cruz y Calahumana was a general and politician who served as the 7th President of Peru in 1827, the Interim President of Peru from 1836 to 1838 and the 6th President of Bolivia from 1829 to 1839. He also served as Supreme Protector of the short-lived Peru-Bolivian Confederation from 1836 to 1839, a political entity created mainly by his personal endeavors.

Putre Town and Commune in Arica y Parinacota, Chile

Putre is a Chilean town and commune, capital of the Parinacota Province in the Arica-Parinacota Region. It is located 130 km (81 mi) east of Arica, at an altitude of 3,500 m (11,483 ft). The town is backdropped by Taapaca volcanic complex.

Iquique City and Commune in Tarapacá, Chile

Iquique is a port city and commune in northern Chile, capital of both the Iquique Province and Tarapacá Region. It lies on the Pacific coast, west of the Pampa del Tamarugal, which is part of the Atacama Desert. It has a population of 191,468 according to the 2017 census. It is also the main commune of Greater Iquique. The city developed during the heyday of the saltpetre mining in the Atacama Desert in the 19th century. Once a Peruvian city with a large Chilean population, it was conquered by Chile in the War of the Pacific (1879–1883). Today it is one of only two free ports of Chile, the other one being Punta Arenas, in the country's far south.

Tarapacá Region Region of Chile

The Tarapacá Region is one of Chile's 16 first-order administrative divisions. It comprises two provinces, Iquique and Tamarugal. It borders the Chilean Arica and Parinacota Region to the north, Bolivia's Oruro Department and Potosí Department on the east, Chile's Antofagasta Region to the south and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The port city of Iquique is the region's capital.

Treaty of Ancón

The Treaty of Ancón was signed by Chile and Peru on 20 October 1883, in the Ancón District near Lima. It was intended to settle the two nations' remaining territorial differences at the conclusion of their involvement in the War of the Pacific and to stabilise post-bellum relations between them.

Empresa de los Ferrocarriles del Estado

Empresa de los Ferrocarriles del Estado (EFE) is the national railway of Chile.

Arica y Parinacota Region Region of Chile

The Arica y Parinacota Region is one of Chile's 16 first order administrative divisions. It comprises two provinces, Arica and Parinacota. It borders Peru's Department of Tacna to the north, Bolivia's La Paz and Oruro departments to the east and Chile's Tarapacá Region to the south. Arica y Parinacota is the 5th smallest, the 3rd least populous and the 6th least densely populated of the regions of Chile. Arica is the region's capital and largest city.

Battle of Arica Battle in the War of the Pacific 1879-1884

The Battle of Arica, also known as Assault and Capture of Cape Arica, was a battle in the War of the Pacific. It was fought on 7 June 1880, between the forces of Chile and Peru.

Treaty of Lima (1929)

The Tacna–Arica compromise or Treaty of Lima was a series of documents that settled the territorial dispute of both Tacna and Arica provinces of Peru and Chile respectively. According to the Treaty, the Tacna-Arica Territory was divided between both countries; Tacna being awarded to Peru and with Chile retaining sovereignty over Arica. Chile also agreed to pay up to 6 million dollars in compensation to Peru.

Arica Province (Peru)

The Province of Arica was a historical territorial division of Peru, which existed between 1823 and 1883. It was populated by pre-Hispanic peoples for a long period of time before Spanish colonisation in the early 16th century saw the transformation of a small town into a thriving port. Trade in both gold and silver was facilitated through Arica after the precious metals were first extracted from the Potosí silver mines of Bolivia. Following the War of the Pacific, the province was transferred to Chile and became an official Chilean territory in 1929.

Afro-Chileans are descendants of slaves who were brought to the Americas via the trans-Atlantic slave trade to Chile and recent migrants from the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa. Afro-Chileans continue to face erasure & discrimination within modern Chilean society.

Treaty of Peace and Friendship (1904)

The Treaty of Peace and Friendship of 1904 between Chile and Bolivia was signed in Santiago de Chile on October 20, 1904, to delineate the boundary through 96 specified points between Cerro Zapaleri and Cerro Chipe and to regulate the relations between the two countries 20 years after the end of the War of the Pacific.

Chilenization of Tacna, Arica and Tarapacá

Chilenization of Tacna, Arica and Tarapacá describes a process of forced transculturation or acculturation in the areas which were invaded and incorporated by Chile since the War of the Pacific (1879–1883). The aim of the Chilenization was to create a dominance of Chilean traditions and culture in that region, in preference to those of the Peruvian population. The British desire to reunite all saltpeter mines under one political administration was also a major factor that influenced the outcome of the war.

Canal Lauca

The Canal Lauca is an artificial channel to divert the waters of the Lauca River westward through a canal and tunnel into the Azapa Valley for purposes of irrigation in the valley and hydroelectric-power generation. Its construction began 1948 and water diversion began 14 years later from a dam located about 16 miles southwest of Lago Cotacotani Lake.

Kunturiri (Bolivia-Chile)

Kunturiri is a volcano in the Andes on the border of Bolivia and Chile which rises up to 5,762 metres (18,904 ft). On the Chilean side it is located in the Arica and Parinacota Region and on the Bolivian side in the Oruro Department, Sajama Province, Curahuara de Carangas Municipality, Sajama Canton as well as in the La Paz Department, Pacajes Province, Calacoto Municipality, Ulloma Canton.

Chapiquiña Power Plant Hydroelectric power station in Chile

Chapiquiña power plant is a hydroelectric power plant in northern Chile. It takes water from the Canal Lauca and produces electrical power through a Pelton turbine.


  1. 1 2 "Municipality of Arica" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 21 September 2010. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  2. 1 2 3 4 (in Spanish) Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas
  4. 1 2 3 4 Arica
  5. Drake, Francis. The World Encompassed by Sir Francis Drake: being His Next Voyage to that to Nombre de Dios. pp. 107–108.
  6. The 1868 Arica Tsunami Archived 2011-05-25 at the Wayback Machine
  8. "Chile: Nearly 40 years on, still no remedy for victims of Swedish toxic waste – UN experts", 2021. UN Human Rights office.
  9. "Territorial division of Chile" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 November 2010. Retrieved 11 September 2010.
  10. Climate Summary for Arica, Chile
  11. "Weather recorders 1979–1993, this city had no rain". Met Office. Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-08-24.
  12. "Datos Normales y Promedios Históricos Promedios de 30 años o menos" (in Spanish). Dirección Meteorológica de Chile. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  13. "Temperatura Histórica de la Estación Chacalluta, Arica Ap. (180005)" (in Spanish). Dirección Meteorológica de Chile. Retrieved 9 December 2018.
  14. "Estadistica Climatologica Tomo I" (PDF) (in Spanish). Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil. March 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 June 2017. Retrieved December 27, 2012.
  15. "CLIMAT summary for 85406: Arica (Chile) – Section 2: Monthly Normals". CLIMAT monthly weather summaries. Ogimet. Archived from the original on 31 March 2020. Retrieved 31 March 2020.
  17. Drews, Carl (22 September 2015). "The Highest Lake in the World". Retrieved 8 February 2019.
  18. Newman, Ian Thomson (March 1, 2017). "South American railway reopens with goal of attracting tourists and freight". Rail Journal.