Economy and Culture of Valparaíso, Chile

Economy and Culture of Valparaíso, Chile

There are two versions about the origin of its name, one is attributed to Juan de Saavedra, who in 1536 would have baptized with the name of Valparaíso the bay where he found the ship “Santiaguillo” in memory of his hometown of Valparaíso de Arriba (City Council of Carrascosa del Campo, Cuenca, Spain) Another version attributes this name to the soldiers of the navigator Juan Bautista Pastene, who would have called it ” Val of paradise “, that is to say ” Valley of paradise “, and that with the use it would have been transformed into Valparaíso.

The Mapuche of the sector called it Aliamapu (in Mapudungún: alia mapu, ‘burnt earth’) surely in relation to its frequent forest fires. The monkeys called him Quintil (‘deep bay’).

Valparaíso is also known as «Pancho». Tradition tells that in 1846 the Church of San Francisco began to be built on Cerro Barón, from which the tower that housed the machinery for the clock and four large spheres that could be seen from any location, especially from the high seas, stood out. a must-see for sailors visiting the bay. When they saw the bell tower, crowned by an iron cross, the sailors said: there is Pancho ! Another theory of the origin of this denomination indicates that the American sailors who arrived at the port were amazed at its similarity with the port of San Francisco, comments that the locals replied with the nickname applied to the Franciscos.

The sailors, especially the English, nicknamed it “little London” because of the ” good London air ” that is breathed in this city.

The city is also called “The jewel of the Pacific “, there is a popular song that bears that title and is considered the “hymn” of Valparaíso.

It is very common, nationally, to name the city with the abbreviation “Valpo”.

Although the city of Valparaíso was never founded under a specific name, it should be noted that between 1789 and 1791 a council was proclaimed, obtaining in 1802 by the King of Spain the title of “City of Our Lady of the Mercedes de Puerto Sure ”, in honor of its patron, who also appears on the city’s official coat of arms.


Economic development

The communal economy is characterized by the presence of a modern business sector, made up of medium and large-sized companies, where there is a high concentration of capital, high levels of technology and management systems, with an emphasis on the sustained improvement of the productivity and competitiveness, and where production is oriented to national and foreign offshore markets. These productive units are located in the most dynamic sectors at the national level: Transportation, Financial Services and other Services including Public Services.

On the other hand, there is a traditional sector, where the levels of capital use are low, there is a deficient use of technology and obsolete management systems, with little emphasis on productivity and competitiveness, and where production is preferably oriented to local markets, although in some cases there is a subordinate supplier relationship with companies in the modern sector. Also in this case, the productive units are concentrated in the Services sector, with a predominance of Commerce. This sector is mainly associated with micro and small businesses.

The city is in a process of recovery and strengthening of its potential as a heritage, tourist, cultural and technological city, driven by joint actions between the central, regional and communal government, which has led the business world to regain confidence in the attractions Valparaíso, an example of this is the various technology companies that have believed in the authorities’ commitment to establish a technological development pole in the city. Although there is still a lot to do, so investment support is essential for the economic consolidation of the city.

Port of Valparaíso

Valparaíso received its first ship in 1536, it was the arrival of Santiaguillo, who supported the expedition of Diego de Almagro. In 1810 a wealthy merchant built the first dock in the history of Chile and first during the colonial era, in the place where the El Mercurio de Valparaíso building stands today, since at that time the sea reached that place (due to works to win land from the sea, today it is five blocks away).

Between 1910 and 1930, a large part of the current port of the city was built, including landfill work to gain ground from the sea. Currently the port of Valparaíso is divided into ten sites, of which sites 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 are managed by Terminal Pacífico Sur SA and sites 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 by the Empresa Portuaria de Valparaíso. The last two sites include a pier and are used as public promenades and cruise ship passenger terminal. In the near future, the aim is to give a real estate boost to this great area of the city.

Valparaíso is the main container and passenger port in Chile. It annually transfers 10 million tons and serves nearly 50 cruise ships and 150,000 passengers per season.

The fact that Valparaíso owns a port does not necessarily mean that it benefits in any way from this condition, since all the income it generates goes to the fiscal treasury, not to the municipal one. In addition to the fact that the municipality of Valparaíso has no influence whatsoever in decision-making concerning the port itself or the election of its authorities, a responsibility that rests solely with the president of the Republic of Chile.


The city of Valparaíso has a vigorous cultural activity, the birthplace of banking, the stock market, firefighters, the Chilean Navy, the telegraph, telephony, horse riding, private education, soccer, cinema and television, among others. Chilean institutions. Since the beginning of Chilean history, it has enjoyed great importance in this regard, since being the main port of the country, it was a recipient of immigrants from Europe and other parts of the world.

Places such as the Naval and Maritime Museum, whose entrance is in the middle of the Craft Fair on Paseo 21 de Mayo, the Artillería hill, the Municipal Museum of Fine Arts, the Lord Thomas Cochrane Sea Museum, the Valparaíso Municipal Art Gallery, the Natural History Museum and the La Sebastiana House Museum, by Pablo Neruda, are some references of the artistic wealth of the city.

The Santiago Severín Library in Valparaíso was the first proper public library that Chile had.

At the end of the 1960s, during a mural workshop conducted by Professor Francisco Ménez at the Catholic University of that city, the idea of an open-air museum was born. This idea was well received by young university students, later transforming into the form of protest that the people had during the time of the Military Government. The municipality decided to group them and order them, choosing Cerro Bellavista as the appropriate place. Some say that Pablo Neruda – who had already been awarded the Nobel Prize – influenced, others, however, deny it. The fact that the paintings are arranged in a journey through the slopes of the hill, in different positions, that there are such special staircases and pictorial calculation, surrealist ―like number 16 by Nemesio Antúnez―, expressionists, pop art, art optical, figurative and abstract, that each of the painters choose their own wall, that is to say “their own canvas”, that no common theme or homage has been imposed on the artist ―which is common in city murals―, that these symbolize the artist’s own character within a close relationship with neighbors as accomplices, collaborators, friends and critics – it is said that they supplied them with tea, They kept their belongings for them at the end of the day and took care of their paintings – resulting in an illustration of the environment and the moment they are inserted, it is properly a museum. It was inaugurated in 1992 with beautiful works by Nemesio Antúnez, Mario Toral and Roberto Matta among other great artists, and it can be accessed through the Ascensor Espíritu Santo.

DIVA FILM FEST, with its blue carpet at the Municipal Theater is the city’s film festival, which attracts international film directors every year.

El Mercurio de Valparaíso, the world’s oldest Spanish-language newspaper in circulation, is a witness to the evolution of Valparaíso. Furthermore, Valparaíso, during the Bicentennial, hosted important international cultural events, such as the Universal Forum of Cultures in 2010 and what was to be the V International Congress of the Spanish Language, which would become one of the most popular versions. However, the earthquake that struck the country on February 27 of that year forced the cancellation of the congress.

Culture of Valparaíso, Chile