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San Jose de Maipo

Topics: Communes of Chile

San Jose de Maipo is a Chilean commune, located in the Metropolitan Region of Santiago (R.M.S.), Cordillera Province 48 kilometers from the city of Santiago, bordered on the east by the Argentine Republic, across the the Andes. According to the population census of 2002, it has 13,376 inhabitants, with a population density of 0,03 inhabitants per hectare, concentrated mainly (70%) in the urban areas. Among the present economic activities stand out nonmetallic mining, including stone quarries, production of almonds and stone fruits, and crafts based on laja rock and alabaster, among others. Regional tourism is very important in this zone; there are a great number of food and lodging establishments. In 2001 the commune was declared Zona de Interes Turistico Nacional (ZOIT), by the National Service of Tourism (SERNATUR).

History

San Jose de Maipo was named a town by order of Ambrosio O'Higgins in 1792. The Governor of Chile and future Virrey of Peru considered it necessary to give it the power of a town to better support mining that took place around San Pedro Nolasco.

During the 19th century the area was the scene of several important events in the independence of Chile, since because of its proximity to Argentina it was used by General San Martin and the liberating Army of the Andes to support the Bernardine cause of O'Higgins.

At the end of that century mining began in the area. During the 20th Century, the commune became very important for the city of Santiago, since the first hydroelectric power station of the zone was constructed there (Maitenes), and also an aqueduct was constructed that supplies potable water to the city from Andean glaciers. Because of the purity of its air, sanatoriums were built for respiratory patients from all over Chile. Towards the end of the century Ecotourism became a pole of development, thanks to the Maipo river's suitability for white water Rafting.

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