What You Need To Know

Arica is a commune and a port city with a population of 196,590 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, consequently there are rarely any clouds over Arica. 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. 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. In addition it is the end station of the Bolivian oil pipeline beginning in Oruro. 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. The city was an important port already during Spanish colonial rule. Chile seized the city from Peru in 1880 following the War of the Pacific and was recognized as Chilean by Peru in 1929. A substantial part of African Chileans live in or trace their origins to Arica.

 

Population: 237, 497 Visit Population City
Area: 4 799 km²

Currency

Administration

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). 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).

 

Language

Chileans speak and understand Spanish. However, Chile has a strong native South American heritage, and many indigenous languages are still used by small groups of the population. Mapudungun – Spoken by the Mapuche people who inhabit Southern Chile and some parts of Argentina.

 

Transport

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). In 2011, Chile announced plans to privatise the Port of Arica. These were opposed by Bolivia, as Arica is its main sea port. Chacalluta International Airport is the main airport in Arica and is located 18.5 km to north of the city. In this terminal operates three domestic airlines, LAN Chile, Principal Airlines and Sky Airlines to many Chilean airports and also to Arequipa, Peru and La Paz, Bolivia.

 

Weather

According to the Köppen Climate Classification system, Arica features the rare mild desert climate, abbreviated “BWn” on climate maps. 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. Despite its lack of rainfall, Arica typically has a relatively high humidity, with levels similar to those of equatorial climates. The sunshine intensity is similar to the Sahara desert region in the Northern Hemisphere (or like the Cape Verde islands).

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