Los Ríos Region

Los Ríos Region
XIV Región de Los Ríos
Region of Chile
Flag of Los Ríos Region
Coat of Arms of Los Ríos Region
Coat of arms

Map of Los Ríos Region
Coordinates: 39°48′30″S 73°14′30″W / 39.80833°S 73.24167°W / -39.80833; -73.24167Coordinates: 39°48′30″S 73°14′30″W / 39.80833°S 73.24167°W / -39.80833; -73.24167
Country  Chile
Capital Valdivia
Provinces Valdivia, Ranco
  Intendant Egon Montecinos
  Total 18,429.5 km2 (7,115.7 sq mi)
Area rank 11
Lowest elevation 0 m (0 ft)
Population (2012 census)[1]
  Total 364,183
  Rank 10
  Density 20/km2 (51/sq mi)
ISO 3166 code CL-LR
Website Official website

The XIV Los Ríos Region (Spanish: XIV Región de Los Ríos, literally in English: XIV Region of the Rivers) is one of Chile's 15 regions, the country's first-order administrative divisions. Its capital is Valdivia. It began to operate as a region on October 2, 2007, having been created by subdividing the Los Lagos Region in southern Chile. It consists of two provinces: Valdivia and the newly created Ranco Province, which was formerly part of Valdivia Province.

The region's economy is based on forestry, cattle farming, tourism, manufacturing, and services. Key industries include the Valdivia Pulp Mill, Valdivia's shipyards, and the dairy facilities located in La Unión.

The population of the region was 363,887 according to the 2012 census. About half of the population lives in the commune of Valdivia.

Government and administration

The capital of region is Valdivia and its 12 communes are distributed between 2 provinces. These are:

Valdivia is part of Northern Patagonia as its wild virgin forest embrace the Patagonian Cordillera following the river Calle Calle down to the Pacific Ocean. It is known in Patagonia the term " Bosque Valdiviano" referring to the primitive virgin forest found in the cordillera valleys of Valdivia which include dense masses of native trees. These Forest are present in some parts of Northern Patagonia both in Chile and Argentina.


In the last census, of 2002, Los Ríos Region (then Valdivia Province) registered a population of 356,396 inhabitants. By this number the region is ranked 10th among Chile's 15 regions and has a share of 2.35% of the national total. The current population projection to 2010 is of 380,000 inhabitants. The regions rural population represents 32% of the total, which is explained by the fact that almost half of the population lives in the city of Valdivia and that the cities of Río Bueno and La Unión have together 50,000 inhabitants. This percentage of rural population is well above the national average which is of 13.4%. The population of Los Ríos has a relatively high percentage of people who self-identify as indigenous of 11.3% it means 40,515 persons. To compare, the national average is of 4.58%.

Valdivian Fort System founded by the Spaniards in Corral.
Demography by commune in Los Ríos Region
Commune Population Density
Poverty (%) Rural
population (%)
peoples (%)[i 1]
Illiteracy (%)
Corral 5,463 7.1 37.3 32.8 11.5 9.9
Futrono 14,981 7.1 35.1 43.9 17.9 8.0
La Unión 39,447 18.5 26.5 35.1 9.2 6.7
Lago Ranco 10,098 5.7 29.6 78.2 31.8 9.3
Lanco 15,107 28.4 35.0 31.3 19.3 7.6
Los Lagos 20,168 11.3 35.5 53.0 3.9 9.1
Máfil 7,213 12.4 21.3 47.4 6.3 8.9
Paillaco 19,237 21.5 29.7 48.8 4.9 7.2
Panguipulli 33,273 10.1 34.4 52.2 30.8 14.1
Río Bueno 32,627 14.8 36.8 53.9 11.9 9.7
Mariquina 18,223 13.8 29.4 51.0 23.2 8.5
Valdivia 140,559 138.4 20.8 7.5 5.0 2.3


This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
List of settlements in Los Ríos Region
Name Population Type Commune
Antilhue 934 Village Los Lagos
Calafquén 103 Hamlet Panguipulli
Caleta Chaihuín 36 Hamlet Corral
Choshuenco 625 Village Panguipulli
Coñaripe 1,416 Town Panguipulli
Corral 3,670 Town Corral
Curiñanco 274 Hamlet Valdivia
Futrono 6,603 City Futrono
La Unión 25,615 City La Unión
Lanco 7,817 City Lanco
Lago Ranco 2,205 Town Lago Ranco
Liquiñe 1,205 Town Panguipulli
Llifén 748 Town Futrono
Los Lagos 9,479 City Los Lagos
Máfil 3,793 Town Máfil
Malalhue 2,566 Town Lanco
Neltume 2,125 Town Panguipulli
Mehuín 1,135 Town Mariquina
Niebla 2,202 Town Valdivia
Nontuela 1,048 Town Futrono
Riñihue 243 Hamlet Los Lagos
Río Bueno 15,054 City Río Bueno
Panguipulli 11,142 City Panguipulli
Paillaco 9,973 City Paillaco
Puerto Fuy 391 Village Panguipulli
Puerto Pirihueico 13 Village Panguipulli
San José de la Mariquina 7,790 City Mariquina
Pishuinco 228 Hamlet Valdivia
Punucapa 75 Hamlet Valdivia
Torobayo 148 Hamlet Valdivia
Valdivia 127,750 City Valdivia


Map of the Los Rios Region and the remaining Los Lagos Region (Grey). Paillaco is in Valdivia province instead of Ranco Province, as initially proposed.

Republic of Chile

In the beginning of the Chilean Republic, Valdivia was one of the original eight provinces established. The reason for the incorporation was not so much the value of Valdivia, per se, but to minimize the threat to Chilean independence posed by Spaniards in the territory. As German Chilean immigrants arrived in the city during the mid 19th century, the local economy started to develop industries. By 1900, Valdivia was the third most industrialized city in Chile, however, a period of decline started with the world wars. After the Great Chilean earthquake in 1960, Valdivia fell deeper into decline. Much of the city was destroyed and many people left the city.

In 1974 the military junta reorganized the political divisions of Chile deciding that Valdivia was no longer adequate to be a "first class administrative territory" capital. Hence, it was reclassified into a province within Los Lagos Region and Puerto Montt was designated capital. Valdivians greatly resented this decision because they felt they were better suited to be the capital than Puerto Montt, holding forth the following arguments:

Creation of the new region

On October 19, 2005 Chilean President Ricardo Lagos signed a bill allowing for the creation of Los Ríos Region ("The Rivers Region"). The bill was approved by Congress on December 19, 2006; it was signed into law on March 16, 2007 and published on April 5, 2007. According to the Roman numeral designation, currently used in Chile, this region is number XIV (fourteenth). However, steps are being taken to no longer refer to the regions by numbers.


When the new region was considered by Congress, Osorno made several proposals:

It was proposed that Osorno Province join as the third province of the new region, instead of remaining the fourth province of Los Lagos Region, however, in a referendum held in 2006 the residents of that province rejected the idea.


Map of the drainage network of Valdivia River. Valdivia River empties to Corral Bay in the Pacific Ocean. View of Panguipulli Lake.

Los Ríos Regions lies in the southern temperate zone and in a tectonically active milieu. Four distinct landscape types, or morphological units, can be distinguished in the region. These are from west to east; the Coastal Range, the Intermediate Depression, the Precordillera and the Andes. These units are oriented parallel to the coast and the subduction zone there. An exception to this are the eastern hills in Mariquina and Máfil that despite belonging to the Coast Range system adrift eastwards and comes very close to the Precordillera cutting the Intermediate Depression in two. The Coastal Cordillera does not exceed the 1000 m in height being Cerro Oncol (715 m) the highest point in the section north of Valdivia River. The Coast Range is cut by Valdivia and Bueno Rivers, deeply incised rivers that drains the inland. Most the Coast is covered by native Valdivian temperate rain forest, although it has in some parts been substituted by plantations of exotic species, specially Douglas firs and eucalyptus.

Two great agricultural flatlands exists in the region, the Mariquina valley and Los Llanos of La Unión and Río Bueno. The first one is a tectonic depression in the Coast Range connected to Valdivia by Cruces River and the second is the continuation of the Intermediate Depression that re-opens south of Máfil. The flatlands and mayor river valleys form large, open, cultural landscapes used as grassing meadows or for growing crops.

The Precordillera is a narrow band characterized by hosting a large number of deep glacial piedmont lakes that are dammed by moraines. These lakes intersects forested granitic mountain massifs of up to 1500 m. The Precordilleran hills and mountains have step slopes to the north and south as the main direction of the Quaternary glaciers where from east to west. Many lake shores are cleared lands where agriculture, settlements and resort areas develops.


The proper Andes extends from the eastern half of the Precordillean lakes to the border with Neuquén Province in Argentina. The Andes in this part of Chile, the Zona Sur, has almost escaped the Andean orogenesis. Here the Andes consist of old granitic plutons such as the Panguipulli Batholith and the Northern Patagonian Batholith together with volcanics and some minor areas of sediments and metasediments. As result of the minimal Andean mountainbuilding the mountains shows little rejuvenation and are mostly shaped by erosive agents, specially glaciers. An exception to this are the several volcanoes that rises east of the piedmont lakes, this volcanoes are among the most active in Chile and as result their form are influenced by the eruptions; either in constructive manner such as Villarrica Volcano or more destructive like Quetrupillán. The fact that these volcanoes have the ability to build up cones and rise again after erosion and explosive eruptions makes many of them the highest mountains in the region and Zona Sur. The volcanoes of Los Ríos Regions belong to the Southern Volcanic Zone of Andes, whose current activity front is located about 200 km west from the main Andean cordillera, this makes volcanoes stand out as isolated snow-covered cones of more than 2000 m, above the lower mountains that rarely pass the 1500 m. The main cordillera makes up the continental divide and are therefore according to the 1881 Argentina-Chile treaty the border between the two nations. Faults and glacier action have however made a gap at the site of Huahum Pass where waters from the eastern Argentine slopes drains westward to the Pacific Mountains at the cordillera may reach at most some 2000 m in height. Andean valleys of Los Ríos Region are deep and broad and either used for raising cattle or for wood lodging, as well as tourism and protection of biodiversity. These glacial valleys are placed above old Miocene rivers and faults. The chief fault is the Liquiñe-Ofqui Fault that crosses the whole region from north to south allowing numerous valleys to develop above it. The Liquiñe-Ofqui Fault is tectonically active causing minor tremors and is also believed responsible by geologists for the alignment of the volcanoes of the southern section of the Southern Volcanic Zone. Along Liquiñe-Ofqui Fault there are several hotsprings such as Liquiñe, Chihuío, Termas Geométricas, Termas Vergara and Termas de Coñaripe.


The region ought its name to the river network that converge in Valdivia River at the city of Valdivia. These rivers drain most of northern Los Ríos Region as well as parts of Araucanía Region and Neuquén Province in Argentina. A second large river, Bueno River is responsible for the draining of the southern parts of the region including Ranco Lake, Chile's 4th largest lake. Bueno River and its tributary Pilmaiquén River also drain large areas of Osorno Province and form the southern boundary of the region. These two big river systems receive a continuous inflow of water due to being fed by lakes and lake chains in the Andes. Valdivia River is provided by the Seven Lakes chain plus Lácar Lake and Bueno River from Ranco, Maihue and Puyehue Lake. The large lakes in the interior are fed by rainwater and snow melt from the higher mountains. Glaciers and semipermanent snow patches have relatively low share flow volume of the main rivers.

See also


  1. In the 2002 Census indigenous peoples were calculated on the basis of selfidentification. The dominant indigenous peoples in Los Ríos Region are Huilliche and Mapuche, while indigenous peoples from other areas of Chile makes up a tiny minority, located mainly in Valdivia.


  1. 1 2 "Los Ríos Region". Government of Chile Foreign Investment Committee. Retrieved 13 March 2010.
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