Temuco is situated 670 kilometres south of Santiago, and is the capital of the Araucania region. In the Mapudungun language of the native Mapuche tribe, Temuco means Agua de Temu (Temu water), a medicinal tree traditionally used to cure illnesses.
Founded on 24 February 1881, Temuco is one of Chile's youngest cities. It has been, however, one of the fasting growing in recent years and its population now stands at 260,000. The city boasts the largest concentration of ethnic Mapuche people, a tribe originating from the area that maintained their independence from the Spanish invaders for more than 300 years, and halted the Spaniard's southward advance.
Situated at a similar distance from the both Pacific and the Andes, Temuco is nestled in a river valley between the Conunhueno and Nielol hills, an area declared a National Tourist Park in 1939 and in which Chile's national flower, the Copihue Rojo (Chilean Red Bellflower) grows.
Its advantageous natural volcanic and lakeside setting underline its status as one of the most important cities in the south of the country. It also contains the majority of the region's administrative, industrial and commercial sites. Araucania is home to a number of prestigious spas such as Pucon, Villarrica and Licanray, all popular leisure resorts, as are the national parks of Conguillio, Huerquehue and Tolhuaca, to name but three.
City trade is very much linked to Mapuche culture, including
woodcraft, musical instruments, textiles and silverware, all of
which can be tracked down in the main municipal market, the
One of the city's finest ambassadors is undoubtedly Marcelo Salas. The current national team captain was born in Temuco and is considered one of the greatest players ever to don the Chilean jersey.