Pichilemu had 12,251 residents as of 2012
Aerial view of Pichilemu - photo by NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Pichilemu is a beach resort city and commune in central Chile, and capital of Cardenal Caro Province. The commune comprises an urban center and twenty-two villages, such as Ciruelos, Cáhuil, and Espinillo. It is located southwest of Santiago, the capital of Chile.
Pichilemu was severely affected by the February 27, 2010, Chile earthquake and its subsequent tsunami, which provoked massive destruction in the coastal zone. The earthquake had a magnitude of 8.8 on the moment magnitude scale, with intense shaking lasting for about three minutes. It ranks as the sixth largest earthquake ever to be recorded by a seismograph. It was felt strongly in six Chilean regions (from Valparaíso in the north to Araucanía in the south), that together make up about 80 percent of the country's population. On March 11, 2010, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake occurred 15 kilometres (9 mi) northwest of Pichilemu, killing one person. Earthquake's losses to the economy of Chile are estimated at US$15–30 billion.
Pichilemu was inhabited by Promaucaes, a pre-Columbian tribal group, until the Spanish conquest of Chile. They were hunter-gatherers and fishermen who lived primarily along the Cachapoal and Maule rivers. The remaining Promaucaes were assimilated into Chilean society through a process of hispanicization and mestization after the conquest of Chile.
In 1885 Agustín Ross Edwards, a Chilean writer, Member of Parliament, minister, and politician, bought a 300-hectare tract of land, and named it La Posada. At the time, it was merely a set of thick-walled barracks.
Ross turned Pichilemu into a summer resort town for affluent people from Santiago. He designed an urban setting that included a park and a forest of over 10 hectares. He transformed La Posada into a hotel, named Gran Hotel Pichilemu, which has since been renamed Hotel Agustín Ross. He built the Ross Casino (currently a cultural center), chalets, terraces, embankments, stone walls, a balcony facing the beach, and several large homes. After Ross died in 1926 his heirs donated these properties to the Municipality of Pichilemu, on the condition that the municipality would hold them for recreation and public access. The Agustín Ross Casino, constructed in 1905, and the Agustín Ross Park, constructed in 1885, have since become an important part of the city, and have been declared Monumentos Históricos (Historic Monuments) by the National Monuments Council.
After Cardenal Caro Province was established by General Augusto Pinochet in 1979, Pichilemu became its capital. The province is named after the first Chilean Catholic Cardinal, José María Caro Rodríguez, who was born in Pichilemu.