Temuco, city (1990 est. pop. 211,700), capital of Araucania region, S central Chile, on the Cautín River. It is a commercial city dealing in cattle, lumber, wheat, and fruit. Temuco, founded in 1881, was the point from which the colonization of S Chile was begun, chiefly by German immigrants. The region was occupied by indigenous Araucanians; on a hill near Temuco, the treaty ending the last serious Araucanian uprising was signed (1881). Temuco has an Araucanian museum.

Temuco is the capital of the Araucanía Region, Chile. The name comes from the Mapudungun language, meaning "temu water"; "temu" (Blepharocalyx cruckshankii) is a tree used by Mapuches for medicinal purposes. The city is located 670 km south of Santiago. Because it is near lake-based resort centers, it is considered a hub for tourist excursions.

Chilean poetry has deep roots in Temuco. Nobel Poets Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda both lived in Temuco. Mistral was the principal of an all-girls school where Pablo (Neftali Reyes) would visit her and show her his first verses when he was around 15 years old.


The city was founded on February 24, 1881 as a fort during the Occupation of the Araucanía. Manuel Recabarren, in charge of the project, named the place Fuerte (Fort) Recabarren.

Formed as a military encampment, Temuco had in its origins the attributes of a camp, and a year after its founding, the first major streets started to form in the downtown area.

On April 15th, 1888, the first city officers were elected including the first mayor José del Rosario Muñoz. The city grew quickly; a census in 1895 indicated a population of 7,708 people, and when Cautin was declared a province, Temuco became its capital, with its population by that time of 16,037 people. Forum Temuco, clik [* Here]

Geography and climate

Temuco is located in the center-south of Chile, equidistant between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes. Morphologically, the city placement corresponds to Cautín River-originated fluvial land masses that developed in a crushed form between two hills, Ñielol (350m) and Conunhueno (360m).

The city is surrounded by an environment typical to central-southern Chile, consisting mostly of plantations of coniferous forests in the midst of a central prairie of moraines and cones next to the foothills of the Andes. The zone produces many crops and fruits, and has an abundance of forests, particularly alerce, roble and lingue. Despite all this, air quality has deteriorated because burning wood is the primary source of heat for most of the city. Air pollution is generally kept under control by the frequent rain in winter.

Climatologically, Temuco corresponds to Chile's central valley Mediterranean region, with a warm temperate weather and transition to humid regions. Throughout the years, cyclonic and anticyclonic influences do alternate, with a short dry summer period (when compared to Santiago or other central valley cities). Its mean annual temperature is 12°C, with highest median during the warmest month of 23.5°C and lowest median during the coldest month of 3.9°C (Ciren-Corfo, 1992). Annual mean rain during 1961-1990 (Dirección Meteorológica de Chile, 1991) was 1.157 mm (Capelli de Steffens et al., 1997).


Greater Temuco has a population of 260,878 (2002 census), which makes it the second largest city south of Santiago (behind Concepción), and the sixth largest in the country. One of the distinctive features of Temuco is the strong presence of the Mapuche culture, who make up 13.05% of the population in the Temuco commune, and numerous German immigrant colonies. Temuco proper has a population of 227,086.


Traffic is frequently congested during working hours and parking on public streets in the downtown sector is difficult to find and is controlled with parking fees being charged. Many streets are one-way, and marked with an arrow, if and when visible or installed.

In residential areas people frequently park on either side of the street, regardless of traffic direction and in some areas vehicles may be seen parked either entirely or partially --with only one side of the vehicle-- on the sidewalk or grass area.

Traffic signals frequently use green arrows to control turns and right hand turns are not permitted when a red light is showing unless there is a specific sign authorizing such a turn.

Drivers often disregard marked traffic lanes and many buses and collective taxis will stop virtually anywhere to take on or discharge passengers.

Buses and collective taxis are the most popular massive transport. The bus fare is $140 or $170 for students an $350 for adults; the collectivos charge $400 ($500 at night). Regular taxis are also available.

Maquehue Airport is commercial air terminal for Temuco located to the South of the city. Because its low capacity, the Chilean Airport Direction is projecting a new and bigger airport for Temuco. It would be located near Freire, about 20 minutes southern from Temuco. At the time there is a controversy because it would be located in Mapuche areas.

The railroad connects Temuco with Victoria to the north and points in between.

Temuco does not have a rapid transit rail system.

Important places

  • Alemania Avenue

Is the principal artery in Temuco. Here we can find The Araucaria Museum building (19th century Chilean style); the Menchaca Lira Campus of Art Building (a Victorian Style building, recently restored); The English Alley, where we can find the Red Cross Building and a Blue house (Both Victorian styled).

Recently, Alemania Av. has become an important commercial centre. Several restaurants, drug stores, boutiques, supermarkets and two shopping malls have been opened there. There will also be a Casino built in the sector as well.

Alemania Av. also has several University campuses; such as the Mayor University campus of Architecture, medicine and communications; the U.C.T Art campus; the U.F.R.O medicine campus; and the Autonoma University.

  • Downtown

The core of Downtown Temuco is the Main Square Anibal Pinto. Temuco's Main Square is the only one in Chile that was not built with a water fountain in its centre; an art gallery was built in 1981 as part of a total renewal. Compared to other main squares of southern Chile, Temuco's main square is modern. It was named one of Chile's most beautiful plazas.

It is a tradition, in all creole cities in Chile, that some specific buildings must be in front of the main square; in Temuco, this tradition was broken. Main Squares are supposed to be surrounded by : a Cathedral (which is in front of Temuco's main square, as traditionally), the Municipality (which is not located in front of the square, as it should by tradition), a Theatre (there is a film theatre in front of it, but is relatively new), a Fire Station (there is not a fire station in front of the square, as it should),a School (there is no school in front of the main square), and a Bank (there are four banks around the main square)

  • Ñielol Hill

The Ñielol Hill represents the original forest of the whole southern Chile area as it was before the Spanish people colonize it. It has also a special meaning for the Mapuche population as a religious center at the top. We can also find a restaurant at the top and a viewpoint of the east side of the city and Padre Las Casas, across the river. It is a "must" for visitors.

Other features

Temuco is one of the newest cities of Chile. Its modern infrastructure, current architecture, and commercial downtown area define it as an important southern city. It has the largest department stores in the south of Chile, and has a very active commerce. Temuco is home to the universities known as Universidad de la Frontera, Universidad Católica de Temuco Universidad Mayor de Temuco and Universidad Autónoma de Chile. It has a very notable geographic feature called Ñielol Hill (Cerro Ñielol, in Spanish).

The central market is generally considered one of the best places to buy Mapuche crafts, and the Produce and meat market on the east side of town is renown for its local produce, including pinones (nuts from the Araucaria tree).


External links



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