Southern Chile

Lakes and Volcanoes

South of the river Bio Bio, lakes sit at the feet of volcanoes.

Friday, July 24, 2009  
Volcán Villarica Volcán Villarica (Photo:Turismo Chile)

The river Bio Bio is an historical boundary between the Mapuche Indians and the Spaniards. Prior to the arrival of the Spaniards, the territory of the Mapuche Indians extended further to the north.  After being forced to move south, they successfully resisted further withdrawal at Bio Bio. Since that time, this boundary has marked the beginning of southern Chile. 

This is also the point where the Chilean landscape begins to change.  The intense green of trees and forest overtakes the landscape and dominates the horizon.  It frequently rains. In the Lakes and Volcanoes area of Southern Chile, that includes the regions Bio Bio, la Araucanía, Los Ríos and Los Lagos, small villages warm their homes by burning wood.  Snow capped volcanoes scatter the landscape.  Although some are active, most, like Villarrica and Llaima close to the town of Pucón, remain safe for hikers and skiers alike.

Over time, the native culture grew accustomed to living alongside Europeans, and settled freely through the zone, including the island of Chiloe.

The largest industries in southern Chile are agriculture and forestry.  These activities have successfully blended in the astonishing natural landscape, which includes extensive protected areas for 30 monuments, reserves, and parks. 

Further evidence of the conservation includes the declaration by Unesco that the lake and river regions form a national park zone with the adjacent reserve in Argentina.  Together, the two areas total over 5 million hectares.

Many people consider the region to be almost diving, which is understandable considering the peace, tranquility, and cordiality of the area.  These characteristics are a central part of the way of life in the region that both endures through time and attracts visitors throughout the year.

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