At the centre of the country, Santiago is the capital of Chile and of Santiago province. Situated to the west of the Andean Cordillera mountain range in the north of the Chilean central valley, the city is traversed by the Mapocho River. Santiago is the country’s centre for industry, commerce, finance and culture. Nearly a third of Chileans live in the capital.
Before the arrival of the conquistadors, the area around Santiago was inhabited by the Picunche who were ruled by the Incas from the fifteenth century. In villages in the Central Valley, were the Mapuche who were arable farmers. In 1541 the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia, founded Santiago del Nuevo Extremo (Santiago of the New Frontier). The Picunche offered little resistance and were put under Spanish rule. The Mapuche, however, attacked Santiago, nearly destroying the settlement in the process. For the next 2 years, the Spanish were restricted to a makeshift camp on the Santa María hill, until...