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Sunday, 30 March 2014


While the ancient Egyptians may be the best-known mummy makers, they were far from the first. A very sophisticated fishing tribe called the Chinchoros, who lived on the north coast of what is now Chile, were embalming their dead as early as 5000 BC.

The Mapuche Indians of Chile played an early form of hockey, using hard balls of stone or heavy wood, which eventually they covered with hide.

On February 12, 1541, Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia founded Santiago, today the capital of Chile, as Santiago del Nuevo Extremo. It was named in honor of St. James, patron saint of Spain. (The name Santiago is the local Galician evolution of Vulgar Latin Sanctu Iacobu, "Saint James".)

1541 founding of Santiago. Painting by Pedro Lira

In 1808, Napoleon's enthronement of his brother Joseph as the Spanish King precipitated Chile's drive for independence from Spain. A national junta was formed on September 18, 1810 proclaiming Chile an autonomous republic within the Spanish monarchy. The first step towards independence from Spain, in memory of this Chile celebrates its National Day on September 18th each year.

Opening session of the First Junta

Intermittent warfare continued until 1817. On January 19, 1817 a patriotic army of 5,423 soldiers, led by General José de San Martín, crossed the Andes from Argentina. From there they triumphed at the Battle of Chacabuco and the Battle of Maipú, thus liberating Chile from royalist rule.

On the first anniversary of its victory in the Battle of Chacabuco, Chile formally declared its independence from Spain.

The 1960 Valdivia earthquake of May 22, 1960 was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded, rating a magnitude of 9.5. The epicenter was near Lumaco, Chile, south of Santiago, with Valdivia being the most affected city.

The driest place on earth is the town of Calama, in the Atacama Desert in Chile.

The Chilean hamlet of Puerto Toro is the southernmost permanent community in the world (excluding research stations in Antarctica). It has just 36 inhabitants - mostly fishermen and their families.

Most peaches that are imported to the United States during winter months come from Chile.

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