Liaison to Country: Minneapolis Santiago Committee
Mayor: Pablo Zalaquett Said
Miles/kms to Minneapolis: 5609mi/9027kms
The Spanish Conquistador Pedro de Valdivia founded Santiago on February 12, 1541 with the name Santiago del Nuevo Extremo, as homage to Saint James and Extremadura, Valdivia’s birthplace in Spain. The city was built following the traditional Hispanic grid patterns that were used in American colonies. The council of Santiago became the administrative center of all of Chile. On September 11, 1541 the city was completely destroyed during a conflict between indigenous forces and the Conquistadors. However, the colonization was soon on its feet again, when the Spanish King acknowledged the process and bestowed upon Santiago the title of city along with its own coat of arms on April 5, 1552. With the Disaster of Curalaba in 1599, several settlers from the south of Chile took refuge in Santiago and this eventually led to the exponential population growth in the area.
Despite set backs in the colonizing of the area, in 1767; Luis Manuel de Zañartu began an heroic project of architectural expansion. Aided by the governor's approval, more and more construction began on major infrastructure of the city, including a central roadway to Valparaiso (an important Chilean seaport). Consequently, the city was properly developed by the time Chilean armies conquered the Spanish Royalist and won independence from Spain in 1817. The following years of the Republican era ushered in a period during which schools were founded, cultural centers developed, and landscaped gardens were opened. In late the 1800's, Santiago expanded its roadway and transportation systems, which helped to establish the city as a metropolitan center for Chile.
In 1880s the extraction of nitrate fertilizer in Northern Chile brought prosperity to the country in addition to promoting the capital city’s development. By the 1940's, population had surpassed 1 million. In response to population needs, the development of high-rise apartment buildings and the construction of an extensive metro system, which began in the 1960's, have helped to transform Santiago into the modern city we know today.
With about two decades of uninterrupted economic growth, Santiago has transformed itself into one of Latin America’s most modern metropolitan areas with extensive suburban development, dozens of shopping malls, and impressive high-rise architecture. Santiago, as the major financial center of the region, is responsible for nearly half of the Chile’s GDP. Businesses such as: HP, Reuters, Procter & Gamble, JP Morgan, Intel, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Nestlé, Kodak, BHP Billiton, IBM, Motorola, Microsoft, Tata Consultancy Services, Ford, Yahoo!, and others have chosen Santiago as the location for headquarters in the province. In 2010, the tallest skyscraper in South America, the Grand Torre Constanera, is expected to open in Santiago. The Constanera Centers' new construction will includes a mall, tower, two office towers, and a hotel.
Did you know?
* The Andes Mountains around Santiago are quite tall, ending in Tupungato volcano at 21,555 feet. Santiago also has 3 other volcanoes.
* Santiago is home of Chile's most successful football club, Colo Colo, who have won 28 National titles
* Home to the most extensive public transit system in South America, Santiago's metro trains alone transport nearly 2.5 million passengers each day!
* In the Andes mountains surrounding Santiago there are several active volcanoes: Tupungatito, San Jose, Maipo, and Tupungato, which last erupted in 1987.
* Gustave Eiffel, namesake of the French tower he designed, is also responsible for the design of Estación Central railway station in Santiago. The building is a protected national monument in Chile.
* Santiago is one of the world's 50 most populous cities.
* Horse racing and the national sport of Chilean Rodeo are popular pastimes in the country and Santiago is home to two established tracks.