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Collage Chillan.jpg
Clockwise, from top: Chillán Cathedral, Nelson Oyarzún Arenas Stadium, puente ferroviario de Ñuble, Statue of Bernardo O'Higgins, panoramic view of the city at sunset.
Escudo de Chillan.svg
Coat of arms
Comuna de Chillan.svg
Location of the Chillán commune in the Ñuble Region
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Red pog.svg
Location in Chile
Coordinates: 36°36′S72°07′W / 36.600°S 72.117°W / -36.600; -72.117 Coordinates: 36°36′S72°07′W / 36.600°S 72.117°W / -36.600; -72.117
Country Chile
Region Ñuble
Province Diguillín
Founded by Martín Ruiz de Gamboa
  Type Municipality
   Alcalde Sergio Zarzar Andonie (ILE)
  Total511.2 km2 (197.4 sq mi)
124 m (407 ft)
 (2012 Census) [3]
  Density340/km2 (890/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Chillanejo or Chillanense
Time zone UTC−4 (CLT)
  Summer (DST) UTC−3 (CLST)
Postal code
Area code(s) country + city = 56 + 42 [4]
Climate Csb
Website Official website (in Spanish)

Chillán (Spanish pronunciation:  [tʃiˈʎan] ) is the capital city of the Ñuble Region in the Diguillín Province of Chile located about 400 km (249 mi) south of the country's capital, Santiago, [5] near the geographical center of the country. It is the capital of the new Ñuble Region since 6 September 2015. Within the city are a railway station, an inter-city bus terminal, an agricultural extension of the University of Concepción, and a regimental military base. The city includes a modern-style enclosed shopping mall in addition to the multi-block open-air street market where fruits, vegetables, crafts and clothing are sold. The nearby mountains are a popular destination for skiing and hot spring bathing.


Founded by the Spanish in 1580 the city persisted despite numerous attacks by Mapuche, Pehuenches and other tribes in war with Spain. Over time Chillán became an important marketplace where Mapuches, Pehuenches, Mestizos and Criollos met. Many goods from Patagonia and the Argentine Pampas were brought into the market of Chillán across the mountain passes of the area. In the early 19th century the countryside of Chillán was ravaged by the Chilean War of Independence and a subsequent banditry epidemic. [6] In 1939 the city was devastated by a large earthquake prompting the government to initiate an extensive reconstruction program.


The zone where Chillán was built was previously inhabited by indigenous people called Chiquillanes. [7]

Chillán was founded in 1580 at the site of Chillán Viejo as San Bartolomé de Chillán by Martín Ruiz de Gamboa [8] , who was campaigning against the local indigenous peoples at the time. However, this moniker did not fare well, and was replaced by the current name, which in the local Indian language means "where the Sun is sitting".

During the Mapuche uprising of 1655 the city was besieged by Mapuche warriors. [9] The Spanish defended the city from trenches and a palisade fort. [9] [10] Hoping for a miracle the Spanish put an image of Mary near the trenches which Mapuches are said to have thrown arrows against. [9] In early March, about one month after the onset of uprising, distress was such that the Spanish abandoned the city and headed north escaping the conflict zone. [10] The Real Audiencia of Santiago declared the evacuation an act of cowardice and prohibited refugees from Chillán to go beyond Maule River north. [11] As there was an outbreak of smallpox among the refugees this was in effect a quarantine, as trespassing north was punished with death sentences. [11]

From its foundation, Chillán has been at the heart of Chile's rich agricultural region. It is also in a region of seismic activity, suffering from devastating earthquakes throughout its history; the 1939 Chillán earthquake left over 30,000 dead and mobilized international help.

Chile's founding father, Bernardo O'Higgins, was born in Chillán in 1778. He was the force behind Chile's Independence from Spain, being elected Supreme Director and declaring independence after the Battle of Chacabuco against the Spanish in 1817. His later victory at the Maipo battlefield cemented the country's freedom. He died in exile in Peru in 1842.


Chillán has a mediterranean climate (Köppen climate classification Csb). [12] Winters are cool but mild with a July average of 7.9 °C (46.2 °F). Most of the precipitation falls during this time of the year with May to July being the wettest months, averaging over 200 millimetres (8 in). [13] Summers on the other hand are dry and warm with a January average of 20.1 °C (68.2 °F) and during this time, precipitation is rare, averaging only 2–3 days per month from December to February. Temperatures can occasionally exceed 30 °C (86.0 °F) anytime from October to April. The average annual precipitation is 1,058 millimetres (42 in) but it is highly variable from year to year with 1982 being the wettest year at 1,813 millimetres (71 in) and 1998 being the driest year at only 473 millimetres (19 in). [13]

Climate data for Chillan (General Bernardo O'Higgins Airport) 1981–2010, extremes 1952–present
Record high °C (°F)41.5
Average high °C (°F)29.1
Daily mean °C (°F)20.1
Average low °C (°F)11.1
Record low °C (°F)1.8
Average precipitation mm (inches)15.2
Average precipitation days223713141411974389
Average relative humidity (%)50535868808583787267605467
Mean monthly sunshine hours 359.6296.6260.4177.0120.987.0105.4142.6183.0229.4282.0334.82,578.7
Mean daily sunshine hours 11.610.
Source 1: Dirección Meteorológica de Chile (precipitation days and humidity 1970–2000) [14] [15] [13]
Source 2: Universidad de Chile (sunshine hours only) [16]

The air in Chillán is the fourth-most polluted in Chile, after Santiago, Temuco, and Concepción. "As in Temuco, the main cause of air pollution in Chillán is the use of wood-burning stoves: about 62% of all households in Chillán use firewood as their main source of heating." [17]


According to the 2002 census by the National Statistics Institute, the commune of Chillán spans an area of 511.2 km2 (197 sq mi) and has 161,953 inhabitants (77,007 men and 84,946 women). Of these, 148,015 (91.4%) lived in urban areas and 1,938 (8.6%) in rural areas. The population grew by 8.3% (12,442 persons) between the 1992 and 2002 censuses. [3]

The demonym for a person from Chillán, used for more than 400 years by local residents, is Chillanejo, yet this is not found in the Royal Spanish Academy Dictionary, which only recognizes Chillanense. [18]

Notable people

Claudio Arrau in 1974, by Allan Warren Claudio Arrau 1 Allan Warren.jpg
Claudio Arrau in 1974, by Allan Warren

In addition, Chillán has offered a number of artists. A notable example is Claudio Arrau, the pianist. Additionally there is Ramón Vinay, the tenor who played Otello in the 1950s. His recording the role with Toscanini. He was a regular at the New York's Metropolitan Opera, where he sang both tenor and baritone roles. One of his last performances at this house was as the Barber of Seville's Basilio, a bass role. He retired from the stage in 1969.

Other "Chillanejos" include the writer Marta Brunet, the sculptor Marta Colvin, the painter Pacheco Altamirano and others such as Juan de Dios Aldea who, however, did not reach the international acclaim achieved by Arrau and Vinay, Finally Super Smash Bros. player Gonzalo "ZeRo" Barrios who had a record-breaking 56-tournament winning streak is also from Chillán


As a commune, Chillán 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 2008-2020 alcalde is Sergio Zarzar Andonie (ILE). [1] [2]

Within the electoral divisions of Chile, Chillán is represented in the Chamber of Deputies by Carlos Abel Jarpa (PRSD) and Rosauro Martínez (RN) as part of the 41st electoral district, (together with Coihueco, Pinto, San Ignacio, El Carmen, Pemuco, Yungay and Chillán Viejo). The commune is represented in the Senate by Victor Pérez Varela (UDI) and Felipe Harboe (PPD) as part of the 13th senatorial constituency (Biobío-Coast).


Nowadays, the city of Chillán is connected to Chile's capital Santiago by both a modern highway and a rebuilt railway system TerraSur that makes the trip in less than five hours. TerraSur, which terminates in Chillán station, and the Alameda-Temuco train both operate on the railway connecting Chillan with Rancagua and Santiago.

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 "Municipality of Chillán" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 13 October 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
  2. 1 2 "Asociación Chilena de Municipalidades" (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 13 October 2011. Retrieved 7 February 2011.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "National Statistics Institute" (in Spanish). Retrieved 9 September 2010.
  4. Call prefix for Chillán
  5. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Chillán"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 161.
  6. Villalobos, Sergio; Silva, Osvaldo; Silva, Fernando; Estelle, Patricio (1974). Historia De Chile (14th ed.). Editorial Universitaria. ISBN   956-11-1163-2, pp. 406–413
  7. - Chiquillanes, pehuenches y tehuelches, pueblos aborígenes chilenos
  8. - El destino infausto de una ciudad
  9. 1 2 3 Barros Arana 2000, p. 352.
  10. 1 2 Barros Arana 2000, p. 357.
  11. 1 2 Barros Arana 2000, p. 360.
  12. Kottek, M.; J. Grieser; C. Beck; B. Rudolf; F. Rubel (2006). "World Map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification updated" (PDF). Meteorol. Z. 15 (3): 259–263. doi:10.1127/0941-2948/2006/0130 . Retrieved December 22, 2012.
  13. 1 2 3 "Estadistica Climatologica Tomo II" (PDF) (in Spanish). Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil. March 2001. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 3, 2016. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
  14. "Datos Normales y Promedios Históricos" (in Spanish). Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil. September 2018. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  15. "Temperatura Histórica de la Estación General Bernardo O'Higgins, Chillán Ad. (360011)" (in Spanish). Dirección Meteorológica de Chile. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  16. "Tabla 4.6: Medias mensuales de horas de sol diarias extraídas del WRDC ruso (en (hrs./dia))" (PDF). Elementos Para La Creación de Un Manual de Buenas Prácticas Para Instalaciones Solares Térmicas Domiciliarias (in Spanish). Universidad de Chile. September 2007. p. 81. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  17. Severe air pollution plagues Chilean cities Friday, June 29th 2007 - 21:00 UTC
  18. Chillanense - DRAE (Royal Spanish Academy Dictionary)