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April 1st, 2013 

Arica, Chile


 In the language of Aymara, the name Arica means “new opening.” And as the northernmost city in Chile, Arica really is an opening to all of the beauty and adventure that Chile has to offer. A seaside resort for families of all sizes and ages, Arica is the gateway to several national parks and areas with ancient ruins.

 Arica has a deep history, full of indigenous groups, pirates, soldiers, and silver. Native groups inhabited the land for centuries before the city was officially founded by a Spanish captain in 1541 with the intention of exporting silver mined in Potosi. Its official title, "La Muy Ilustre y Real Ciudad San Marcos de Arica" (the very illustrious and royal city of San Marcos of Arica), was given in 1570. Because of the great amount of silver moving through the city each day, it became a popular target for pirate attacks from legendary looters like Francis Drake. The land passed through the hands of the Bolivian and Peruvian governments before becoming part of Chile. The country invested a good deal of money to develop tourism in Arica. Arica was a host city for the 1962 World Cup, and later hosted the Rip Curl Pro Search surfing event in 2007.

 The 20 kilometers of beaches in Arica are outstanding. South of the city along Avenida Commandante San Martín, you’ll find the best beaches for swimming, but Playa Corazones has the best views with steep cliffs and a large cave. When you are done with the beach, there is an endless supply of tourist attractions and beautiful sites in and around the city. Start with the Casa de Cultura, a customs house built before the War of the Pacific. It is one of the few surviving structures in the city from that time period, due to damage from major earthquakes. More history can be seen at El Morro de Arica, where you can look through a museum of the Chilean Army and see an amazing panoramic view of the sea. For indoor activities, visit the Casino in town for gambling, dancing, shows, and a bar. There is also opportunity for eating at unique restaurants and shopping in duty-free stores.


 Arica is also located near Lake Chungará, the highest lake in the world, surrounded by the dormant twin volcanoes of Payachata. Parque Nacíonal Lauca features animal species like vicuña, alpaca, nandu and wild chinchilla, while other local attractions have displays of rock carvings and the famous Chinchorro mummies.

 Easily located off of several transportation routes to Peru and other Chilean cities, Arica is a great year-round destination. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring,” Arica has a dry and temperate climate for warm ocean swimming in any month.
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