City and Commune

View of Temuco from Cerro Ñielol
Coat of arms
Coat of arms
Map of Temuco commune in Araucanía Region
Map of Temuco commune in Araucanía Region
Location in Chile
Coordinates: 38°44′S 72°40′W / 38.733°S 72.667°W / -38.733; -72.667
Country Chile
Region Araucanía
Province Cautín
Founded 24 February 1881
  Type Municipality
  Alcalde Miguel Becker Alvear (RN)
  Total 464.0 km2 (179.2 sq mi)
Elevation 360 m (1,180 ft)
Population (2012 Census)[3]
  Total 262,530
  Density 570/km2 (1,500/sq mi)
  Urban 232,528
  Rural 12,819
Demonym(s) Temucan
  Men 117,071
  Women 128,276
Time zone CLT (UTC−4)
  Summer (DST) CLST (UTC−3)
Area code(s) 56 + 45
Climate Csb
Website Official website (Spanish)

Temuco is a city and commune, capital of the Cautín Province and of the Araucanía Region in southern Chile. The city is located 670 kilometres (416 miles) south of Santiago at the heart of the modern Araucanía Region and historic Araucanía—the land of the Mapuche who resisted Spanish conquest.

Temuco was founded in 1881 during the occupation of Araucanía and grew quickly into one of Chile's main cities. Temuco's central place in Araucanía with easy access to the Andean valleys, lakes and coastal areas makes it a hub for tourism, agricultural, livestock and forestry operations as well as a communication and trade centre for the numerous small towns of Araucanía. Temuco has recently been regarded as a university city as it houses two main universities: University of the Frontier (Spanish: Universidad de La Frontera) and Temuco Catholic University (Spanish: Universidad Católica de Temuco). Nobel laureates Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda both lived in Temuco for some time.


Luma apiculata

The word Temuco comes from the Mapudungun language, meaning "temu water"; "temu" is the common name of two native trees of the family Myrtaceae, Luma apiculata (also known as arrayán in Spanish) and Blepharocalyx cruckschankii. Both species are characterized by their orange-reddish bark and by having aromatic fruits and leaves which are commonly used by the Mapuche for medicinal purposes. While Blepharocalyx cruckschankii is endangered, Luma apiculata is relatively common and in Temuco it is possible to see it in the Cerro Ñielol Natural Monument (in its natural state) as well as in city gardens and sidewalks. The blend between the words "temu" and "co" (water), probably reflects the fact that these trees frequently grow beside water bodies.


The city was founded by Chilean army on February 24, 1881 as a fort during the Occupation of the Araucanía. Manuel Recabarren, in charge of the project, named the place Fuerte (Fort) Recabarren.

Formed as a military encampment, Temuco had in its origins the attributes of a camp, and a year after its founding, the first major streets started to form in the downtown area.

On April 15, 1888, the first city officers were elected including the first mayor José del Rosario Muñoz. The city grew quickly; a census in 1895 indicated a population of 7,708 people, and when Cautin was declared a province, Temuco became its capital, with its population by that time of 16,037 people.

Chilean poetry has deep roots in Temuco. Nobel laureates Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda (Neftali Reyes) both lived in Temuco. Mistral was the principal of an all-girls school where Neruda would visit her and show her his first verses when he was around 15 years old.

In 2010 Temuco was affected by the earthquake on February 27 centered 400 km (250 mi) to the north. It was one of the most affected regions of Chile besides Santiago, Concepcion, Valparaíso and others. The earthquake registered 8.8 Mw on the moment magnitude scale. Though landlocked Temuco avoided the tsunamis the earthquake caused, many very strong aftershocks throughout the country followed, including a 7.1 MW earthquake 70 km (43 mi) northwest of the city.[4] Nowadays, Temuco is a fast growing city with diversified commerce and services.


Central Temuco

According to the 2002 census by the National Statistics Institute (INE), Temuco had a communal population of 245,347 (117,071 men and 128,276 women). Of these, 232,528 (94.8%) lived in urban areas and 12,819 (5.2%) in rural areas. The population grew by 24.4% (48,111 persons) between the 1992 and 2002 censuses.[3] The INE projected the 2010 population to be 377,495, which makes it the second largest city south of Santiago (behind Concepción), and the fourth largest in the country. One of the distinctive features of Temuco is the strong presence of the Mapuche culture, who make up 23.05% of the population in the Temuco commune, and numerous German immigrant colonies (9.82%). Temuco proper has a population of 227,086.

The locals are called temuquenses. Most inhabitants are of different origins. Temuco has a high percentage being of Basque ancestry other than Castilian and other Spanish nationalities. Thus, one can find indigenous, mainly Mapuche, who account for 13% of the population of Temuco, which makes it the city of Chile with the largest indigenous presence. There is also a large percentage of temuquences that are directly descended from European immigrants, many of the early arrivals during 1883–1901, after the pacification of Araucanía. The main sources are from Switzerland, Spain, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom and other less numerous in many other parts of Europe such as Netherlands, Austria, Croatia, Armenia, Greece, Portugal and others arrived after that first migration, especially during the World Wars, the Spanish Civil War (1930s) a large percentage being Aragonese, Asturians, Catalans, Galicians, Navarrese and Basques; reaching a significant number of immigrants from Europe (mainly Germany and Spain).

There are also small communities of Jews (i.e. from Russia, Poland, Macedonia, Hungary, Central and Eastern Europe) and Arabic (Lebanon, Syria and Palestine) peoples, proof of this phenomenon of immigration from Europe and to a lesser extent, Jewish and Arabic are the various clubs, schools, and sections of the city of Temuco. There are East Asian colonies of Chinese, Japanese and Koreans in Temuco, dating back to the end of the Korean War in the 1950s when thousands of Korean refugees settled through U.N. relocation programs to Chile.

Notable people


Llaima volcano located in the Andes as seen from Temuco valley

Temuco is located in a valley in the center-south of Chile, equidistant between the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Andes to the east. Morphologically, the city placement corresponds to Cautín River-originated fluvial land masses that developed in a crushed form between two hills, Ñielol (350m) and Conunhueno (360m).


The city is surrounded by a landscape typical to central-southern Chile, consisting mostly of plantations of exotic species used in forestry along with prairies. The original ecosystem of the area consisting in temperate forest is present mostly in the Ñielol hill. Given that burning wood is the primary source of heat during the cold months in Temuco, air pollution is a recurrent problem during autumn and winter. As a consequence, Air quality in Temuco is the third lowest in Chile.[5][6]


Climatologically, Temuco lies at the border of Chile's central valley Mediterranean region, albeit with an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification: Cfb ). Through the year, cyclonic and anticyclonic influences alternate, with a distinct drier summer period (although not as dry as Santiago or other central valley cities, receiving just enough precipitation to avoid a Mediterranean climate classification). Its mean annual temperature is 13 °C (55 °F), with highest median during the warmest month of 23.5 °C (74 °F) and lowest median during the coldest month of 3.5 °C (38 °F) (Ciren-Corfo, 1992). Annual mean rain during 1961-1990 (Dirección Meteorológica de Chile, 1991) was 1,157 millimetres (45.6 in) (Capelli de Steffens et al., 1997).

Climate data for Temuco (Maquehue Airport) 1970–2000, extremes 1952–present
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 38.0
Average high °C (°F) 23.4
Daily mean °C (°F) 16.7
Average low °C (°F) 9.6
Record low °C (°F) 0.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 39.9
Average precipitation days 6 6 8 12 18 19 18 17 15 12 10 8 149
Average relative humidity (%) 71 72 77 82 86 87 86 84 80 79 77 74 79.6
Mean monthly sunshine hours 303.8 265.6 226.3 147.0 111.6 75.0 89.9 124.0 171.0 179.8 210.0 272.8 2,176.8
Mean daily sunshine hours 9.8 9.4 7.3 4.9 3.6 2.5 2.9 4.0 5.7 5.8 7.0 8.8 5.98
Source #1: Dirección Meteorológica de Chile[7][8]
Source #2: Universidad de Chile (sunshine hours only)[9]


As a commune, Temuco 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 2008-2012 alcalde is Miguel Becker Alvear (RN).[1][2]

Within the electoral divisions of Chile, Temuco is represented in the Chamber of Deputies by Germán Becker (RN) and René Saffirio (PDC) as part of the 50th electoral district, (together with Padre Las Casas). The commune is represented in the Senate by José Garcia Ruminot (RN) and Eugenio Tuma Zedan (PPD) as part of the 15th senatorial constituency (Araucanía-South).


Anibal Pinto Square
Terminal Rodoviario

Buses and collective taxis are the most popular modes of mass transit. The bus fare is CLP$150 for students and $450 for adults; the colectivos charge $500 ($650 at night). Regular taxis are also available.

La Araucanía Airport is commercial air terminal for Temuco located to the south of the city, near the town of Freire, about 20 minutes south of Temuco.

The railroad connects Temuco with Victoria to the north and points in between.

Temuco does not have a rapid transit rail system.

Long-haul buses run from the Terminal Rodoviario de la Araucania , at the northern approach to town.

Private transport by car is commonly used which causes traffic congestion at peak hours.

The recent proliferation of bike lanes has placed transportation by bicycle as an emerging trend. By 2017, 35 km of bike lanes are expected to be operative.

Important places

Ingreso Cerro Ñielol.jpg
Entrance Cerro Ñielol

The Ñielol Hill houses the original temperate forest at this latitude in southern Chile as it was before the Spanish people colonised it. Currently, it has the status of natural monument and as such, it is a protected area. It has also a special meaning for the Mapuche people living in the Region, housing near the top a ceremonial area called La Patagua. We can also find a restaurant at the top of the Hill and a viewpoint of the east side of the city and Padre Las Casas, across the river. It is easily accessed by foot or car. The Southern Andean Volcano Observatory has its office there.

The central market is one of the best places to get Mapuche crafts. It has a meat market and shops selling woodcrafts, artifacts, wool knits, and similar goods. A fire has recently affected its structure.

Edificio Marsano de 1923 - Frente.JPG
Marsano building beside Feria Pinto

One of the most traditional places in the city. Fresh fruits and vegetables are sold here in a daily basis. People from the city and from rural nearby towns come here for trade.

Is the principal artery in Temuco. Here we can find The Araucaria Museum building (19th century Chilean style); the Menchaca Lira Campus of Art Building (a Victorian Style building, recently restored); The English Alley, where we can find the Red Cross Building and not long ago a blue house which was dismantled to be rebuilt elsewhere (as a Heritage recovery project by the school of architecture of a known University of Temuco), both Neoclassical styled. Recently, Alemania Av. has become an important commercial centre. Several restaurants, night clubs, pubs, bistros, pharmacies, boutiques, banks, supermarkets and two shopping malls have been opened there. There is also a Casino and a five stars hotel in the same avenue.

The core of Downtown Temuco is the Main Square Anibal Pinto. Temuco's Main Square is the only one in Chile that was not built with a water fountain in its centre; an art gallery was built in 1981 as part of a total renewal. Compared to other main squares of southern Chile, Temuco's looks very modern. It was named one of Chile's most beautiful plazas. It is a tradition, in all creole cities in Chile, that some specific buildings must be in front of the main square; in Temuco, this tradition has been broken. Main Squares are supposed to be surrounded by: a Cathedral (which is in front of Temuco's main square, as traditionally), the Municipality (which also, is located in front of the square), a Theatre (there used to be a film theatre in front of it), a Fire Station (there is not a fire station in front of the square, as it should), a School (there is no school in front of the main square), and a Bank (there are four banks around the main square).


  1. 1 2 "Asociación Chilena de Municipalidades" (in Spanish). Retrieved 7 February 2011.
  2. 1 2 "Municipality of Temuco" (in Spanish). Retrieved 7 February 2011.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "National Statistics Institute" (in Spanish). Retrieved 13 December 2010.
  4. "Magnitude 7.1 - ARAUCANIA, CHILE". Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  5. News report February 2015]
  6. Air pollution worsens in southern Chilean city of Temuco]
  7. "Estadisca Climatologica Tomo II" (PDF) (in Spanish). Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil. March 2001. Retrieved December 25, 2012.
  8. "Temperatura Mensual Histórica de Maquehue, Temuco Ad. (380013)". Sistema de Administración de Datos Climatológicos (in Spanish). Dirección Meteorológica de Chile. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  9. "Tabla 4.6: Medias mensuales de horas de sol diarias extraídas del WRDC ruso (en (hrs./dia))" (PDF). Elementos Para La Creación de Un Manual de Buenas Prácticas Para Instalaciones Solares Térmicas Domiciliarias (in Spanish). Universidad de Chile. September 2007. p. 81. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
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Coordinates: 38°45′S 72°40′W / 38.750°S 72.667°W / -38.750; -72.667

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