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Destination Details

Valdivia, Chile

 

The city is named after its founder Pedro de Valdivia and is located at the confluence of the Calle-Calle, Valdivia and Cau-Cau Rivers, approximately 15 km (9 mi) east of the coastal towns of Corral and Niebla. Since October 2007, Valdivia has been the capital of Los Ríos Region and is also the capital of Valdivia Province
The area around Valdivia may have been populated since 12,000 – 11,800 B.C according to archaeological discoveries in Monte Verde (less than 200 km south of Valdivia), which would place it about a thousand years before the Clovis culture in North America. This challenges the "Clovis First" model of Migration to the New World and it is possible that the first inhabitants of Valdivia and Chile travelled to America by watercraft and not across a land-bridge in the Bering Strait.
During at least the Middle Archaic southern Chile was populated by indigenous groups that shared a common lithic culture called the Chan-Chan Complex after the archaeological site of Chan-Chan located just some 35 km north of Valdivia along the coast.
By the time of the arrival of the Spanish conquistadores, Valdivia was inhabited by Huilliches (Mapudungun for People of the South). Huilliches and Mapuches were both referred by the Spaniards as Araucanos. Their main language was a variant of Mapudungun, the Mapuche language.
There was a large village called Ainil in present day downtown Valdivia, and the Valdivia River was called Ainilebu. Ainil seemed to have been an important trade centre due to its ease of access to the sea and the interior using the river network of the Cruces and Calle-Calle Rivers, both tributaries of the Valdivia. Ainil may be described as "a kind of little Venice" as it had large areas of wetlands and canals, most of them now drained or filled. The market in Ainil received shellfish and fish from the coast, legumes from Punucapa, and other foods from San José de la Mariquina, an agricultural zone north east of Valdivia. A remnant of this ancient trade is the modern Feria Fluvial (English: Riverside Market) on the banks of Valdivia River. The surroundings of Valdivia were described as large plains having a large population that cultivated potatoes, maize, quinoa and legumes among other crops. The population has been estimated by some historians as 30-40 thousand inhabitants as of 1548 based on descriptions made by the conquistadors. Pedro Mariño de Lobera, an early conquistador and chronicler wrote that there were half a million Indians living within ten leagues (one league is roughly 4.2 km) from the city.Other historians consider these numbers too high and argue that early Spaniards usually exaggerated in their descriptions. Later Charles Darwin would state that "there is not much cleared land near Valdivia"[9] which suggests that pre-Hispanic agriculture in Valdivia was far more extensive than the agriculture practiced in the early 19th century.
On May 22, 1960, Chile suffered the most powerful earthquake ever recorded, rating 9.5 on the Moment magnitude scale, with Valdivia being the most affected city. The earthquake generated devastating tsunamis that affected Japan and Hawaii. Spanish-colonial forts around Valdivia were severely damaged, while soil subsidence destroyed buildings, deepened local rivers, and created wetlands of the Río Cruces y Chorocomayo - a new aquatic park north of the city.
Large sections of the city flooded after the earthquake, and a landslide near the Tralcán Mount dammed the Riñihue Lake. Water levels in Lake Riñihue rose more than 20 meters, raising the danger of a catastrophic break and of destroying everything downriver. Government authorities drew plans for evacuating the city, but many people left on their own. Danger to the city was reduced after a large team of workers opened a drainage channel in the landslide; water levels of the lake slowly returned to normal levels. There is evidence that a similar landslide and earthquake happened in 1575.

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