Concepción, Chile

Concepción, Chile
La Concepción de María Purísima
del Nuevo Extremo (original name)
—  City and Commune  —
Panoramic vista of Concepcion center
Flag of Concepcion
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): Biobío's Pearl
Motto: La Capital del Sur de Chile
The Capital of the South of Chile
Comuna de Concepción
Location of Concepción commune in the Biobío Region
Location in Chile
Location in Chile
Location in Chile
Coordinates (alcalde's office): 36°49′41.50″S 73°03′04.93″W / 36.828194°S 73.0513694°W / -36.828194; -73.0513694Coordinates: 36°49′41.50″S 73°03′04.93″W / 36.828194°S 73.0513694°W / -36.828194; -73.0513694
Country Chile
Region Biobío
Province Concepción
Founded October 5, 1550
Founder Pedro de Valdivia
 – Type Municipality
 – Alcalde Patricio Kuhn Artigues (2008-2012) (UDI)
 – City and Commune 222 km2 (85.7 sq mi)
Population (2006)
 – City and Commune 292,589
 – Density 1,318/km2 (3,413.6/sq mi)
 – Metro 1,322,581
Demonym Penquista
Time zone CLT (UTC−4)
 – Summer (DST) CLST (UTC−3)
Post code 3349001
Telephone prefix 56 + 41
Website Municipality of Concepción

Concepción (About this sound pronunciation ) is a city in Chile, capital of Concepción Province and of the Biobío Region or Region VIII. Greater Concepción (Gran Concepción, including Talcahuano, San Pedro de la Paz, Hualpén, Chiguayante, Penco, Tomé, Lota, Coronel, Hualqui and Concepción) is the second-largest conurbation in the country, with 889,725 inhabitants (2002 census). Individually, it is the 11th largest commune in the country, with a population of 212,003.



Plaza de la Independencia, the Plaza de Armas of Concepción, in 1910

Concepción was founded by Pedro de Valdivia[FN 1] in 1550 north of the Bío-Bío River, at the site which is today known as Penco. At that time it was given the name Concepción del Nuevo Extremo. The new settlement of Concepción was just a few kilometers north of La Frontera (The Frontier), the boundary between Spanish territory and the land of the Mapuche, an American Indian ethnic group that remained independent until the 1870s. The settlement was formally recognized by the Spanish authorities as a town two years later by a royal decree. It was given a coat-of-arms that is still in use today.

Although Concepción was a significant military settlement for the Captaincy-General of Chile, it was overrun and destroyed by Mapuche armies in 1554, and once again after being refounded in 1555. Concepción was restored during the governorship of García Hurtado de Mendoza when he landed there and built a fort on the Alto de Pinto in 1557. The town was refounded once more on January 6, 1558, by captain Jerónimo de Villegas. It became the headquarters of the military forces engaged against the Mapuche in Araucanía over the next two centuries, growing to a population of 10,000 despite a siege in 1564 and other attacks by the Mapuche. Concepción was the home of the Real Audiencia from 1565 to 1575.

Earthquakes and tsunamis, which razed the town in 1570, 1657, 1687, 1730 and 1751, led the authorities to move the town to its current site in the Valle de la Mocha, alongside the Bío-Bío River; the old site lay empty until March 29, 1842, when the present town of Penco was founded.

The new site for the town of Concepción became the main town of the Intendancy of Concepción, whose jurisdiction extended from the Maule River to La Frontera. The first Intendant of Concepción was the Irishman Ambrose O'Higgins, Marquis of Osorno, who later became Royal Governor of Chile and Viceroy of Peru.

When the First National Government Board met in Santiago on September 18, 1810, citizens of Concepción joined up. Concepción was used as the point of entry by the Spanish Army in the attempt by the Viceroyalty of Peru to re-conquer Chile. Concepción politicians and soldiers became a significant political force in the newly-independent country.

On January 1, 1818, Ambrose O'Higgins's son, Bernardo O'Higgins, proclaimed and took the oath of the Chilean War of Independence in the main square of Concepción, which since then has been known as "Plaza de la Independencia". On February 20, 1835, the town again was largely destroyed by an earthquake and had to be rebuilt.

As of 2010, Concepción is the second largest city of Chile. The Universidad de Concepción, founded in 1919, became the first private university in Chile. The neighboring harbor of Talcahuano is the site of the largest naval base in Chile.

27 February 2010 earthquake

Tower O´Higgins, earthquake collapsed building

On February 27, 2010, an 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck the city of Concepción, killing more than 521 people and injuring thousands nationwide. Following the earthquake, geologists relying on global positioning satellite (GPS) data concluded that the city had been displaced roughly 3 meters (10 feet) to the west as a result of the event.[2] Fortunately, the city avoided the tsunami that followed the earthquake.[3]

After the 2010 Chile earthquake, a prison riot began in Concepción's El Manzano prison following a failed escape attempt by the internees. Different parts of the prison were set on fire and the riot was controlled only after the guards shot into the air and received help from military units.[4] As of 5 March 2010, a Peruvian field hospital has been deployed to the city.[5]


Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm

The vicinity is seismically active, with much of Concepción destroyed by a violent earthquake in 1939. Another major earthquake in 1960 had a nearby epicenter.[FN 2]

On February 27, 2010, an earthquake of 8.8 magnitude struck at 35.846°S, 72.719°W, 115 km (71 mi) NNE of the city. The United States Geological Survey said the earthquake struck at 0334 GMT on Saturday at a depth of 35 km (22 mi). The effects were felt as far away as São Paulo, Brazil—2,870 miles (4,620 km).


The climate of Concepción is classified as Köppen climate classification csb, with a dry summer nadir in February. Despite the csb classification, the climate is generally considered oceanic, because for most of the year it resembles an oceanic climate. The climate's oceanic influence keeps temperatures mild throughout the year. Temperatures rarely exceed 30°C or decrease below -3°C. In the five-month period between May and October, the city receives approximately 83% of it's total annual precipitation, which totals 1,110 mm (44 in). The chart at right provides a climate summary for Concepción; additionally the weather box belows covers the information in higher detail.

Climate data for Concepcion, Chile
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Daily mean °C (°F) 16
Precipitation mm (inches) 21
Source: The Weather Network[6]


Year Population Reference
2012 229,684 [7]
2006 225,158 [7]
2002 216,061 [8]
1992 326,784 [9]
1982 267,891 [9]
1970 161,006 [9]

According to data collected on 2002 in the Census of the National Institute of Statistics, the township has an area of 221.6 km2 (86 sq mi) and a population of 216,061 inhabitants, of whom 103,860 are men and 112,201 are women.

Conception is home to 11.61% of the total population of the region. 1.88% (4,058 persons) is for rural population and 98.12% (212,003) to urban population.

Between 1970 and 1982 there is a large increase in the population. One reason is the inclusion of San Pedro, segregated from the municipality of Coronel.

The Concepción commune population declined sharply because in 1996 it was divided, creating Chiguayante and San Pedro de la Paz. In these communes the population has grown quickly since they have become bedroom communities of Concepción, i.e. residential cities that do not have a center with many shops, such as Concepcion.

It is projected that by 2009 an estimated population of 227,768 inhabitants live in the commune.[7]

There is a significant percentage of foreign residents in the city, the most numerous are the Spanish, Italian and U.S. expatriate communities. Also are smaller segments of German, French, British, Dutch, Greek, Portuguese, Croatian, Scandinavian, Arab and Australian descendants in a city settled by waves of immigration.

Cultural life

Public transport; blue in lower and gray in upper

To an outsider, there may be confusion between the demonyms of the inhabitants of Concepción and the nearby city of Penco. Due to the previous location of Concepción being where Penco currently stands, inhabitants of Concepción are called penquistas while inhabitants of Penco are known as pencones.

Concepción is one of the most active cities in Chilean rock music and many famous rock groups in Chile started up in Concepción. Concepción has the second largest concentration of universities in Chile, and is home to three major universities. Concepción currently has four traditional universities:

  • Universidad de Concepción
  • Universidad Católica de la Santísima Concepción
  • Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María
  • Universidad del Bío-Bío.
Traffic jam in street of Concepcion


Concepción is home of three professional football teams:

Basketball is also played at a high professional level. The most notable team is:


Concepción is the second commercial nucleus of Chile. In the image, the Concepción Central Market

Historically characterized by a strong manufacturing industry, Concepión has also been a major center for distribution and services and the financial basis of the regional economy.

Trade in the city is concentrated in the Plaza Independencia (Independence Square), the pedestrian street Alonso de Ercilla y Zúñiga (built in 1981), and along the major avenues. One such avenue is the Diego Barros Arana street which has developed into the commercial center of the city and the region was until 1907 even known as "calle Comercio" ("Commerce Street"). New commercial centers are being developed around the old central station and the new civic district as a part of the Chilean bicentennial (September 18, 2010). A considerable percentage of local trade is taking place in settlements around the city.


As a commune, Concepción is a third-level administrative division of Chile administered by a municipal council, headed by an alcalde who is directly elected every four years. The municipal building (alcaldía) is located at O'Higgins Nº 525 36°49′41.50″S 73°03′04.93″W / 36.828194°S 73.0513694°W / -36.828194; -73.0513694.[10] The 2008-2012 alcalde is Patricio Kuhn Artigues (UDI). The communal council has the following members:[1]

  • Alvaro Ortiz Vera (PDC)
  • Rodrigo Díaz Wörner (PDC)
  • Christian Paulsen Espejo-Pando (RN)
  • Escequiel Riquelme Figueroa (Ind.)
  • Fernando Gonzalez Sánchez (UDI)
  • Alejandra Smith Becerra (PDC)
  • Patricio Lynch Gaete (UDI)
  • Jorge Condeza Neuber

Within the electoral divisions of Chile, Concepción is represented in the Chamber of Deputies by José Miguel Ortiz (PDC) and Enrique Van Rysselberghe (UDI) as part of the 44th electoral district, (together with San Pedro de la Paz and Chiguayante). The commune is represented in the Senate by Alejandro Navarro Brain (MAS) and Hosain Sabag Castillo (PDC) as part of the 12th senatorial constituency (Biobío-Cordillera).

Notable citizens

Twin cities

About eight or nine cities have sister city associations, including one in the USA.


Concepción downtown  
Arco de Medicina ("Arch of Medicine"), on the campus of the Universidad de Concepción  
Andes Tower  
Mouth of the Bío-Bío River emptying into the Pacific Ocean  
Cathedral of Concepción; it was demolished after an earthquake in 1939  
BioBus, transport to a train station  
Hotel Araucano  
Plaza de la Independencia, the Plaza de Armas of Concepcion  


  • Ida Stevenson Weldon Vernon (1969) Pedro de Valdivia, Conquistador of Chile, Greenwood Press
  • John Milton Nickles, Marie Siegrist (1965) Bibliography and Index of Geology Exclusive of North America, Geological Society of America, v.28

Line notes

  1. ^ I.S.W. Vernon, 1969
  2. ^ J.M. Nickles, 1965


  1. ^ a b (Spanish) "Municipality of Concepción". Retrieved 3 September 2010. 
  2. ^ CNN, "Chile quake moves city more than 10 feet", "9 March 2010" (accessed 10 March 2010)
  3. ^ Time Magazine, "Quake Response Doesn't Live Up to Chile's Self-Image", Eben Harrell, 4 March 2010 (accessed 4 March 2010)
  4. ^ El Mercurio, March 1. Cuerpo C, page C13
  5. ^ UKPA, "Foreign hospitals help out Chile", 6 March 2010 (accessed 6 March 2010)
  6. ^ "Climate Statistics for Concepcion, Chile". 
  7. ^ a b c Projections by the INE.
  8. ^ According to Census 2002, operated by the INE. Note that the agency's projections indicate that 2006 the estimated population of 225,158 inhabitants.
  9. ^ a b c According to Last 5 census, the INE
  10. ^ (Spanish) "Government of Chile: SUBDERE - Alcaldes and Councilors". Retrieved 18 September 2010. 

External links

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