La Calera, Chile
|City and Commune|
Downtown La Calera from the hills
|• Alcalde||Eduardo Martinez Machuca (PPD)|
|• Total||60.5 km2 (23.4 sq mi)|
|Elevation||183 m (600 ft)|
|Population (2012 Census)|
|• Density||830/km2 (2,100/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CLT  (UTC-4)|
|• Summer (DST)||CLST  (UTC-3)|
|Area code(s)||56 +|
|Website||Official website (Spanish)|
La Calera is located 66 km (41 mi) northeast of Valparaíso, and 118 km (73 mi) northwest of Santiago, in the Aconcagua River Valley. Its area is 60.5 km2 (23 sq mi). La Calera borders Nogales to the north and west, Hijuelas to the east, and La Cruz to the south.
La Calera's name comes from the production of quicklime (Spanish "cal") that is obtained from the processed limestone (Spanish: piedra caliza) (calcium carbonate), extracted from the hills at the south of the town, which were already exploited by the Chilean and Peruvian Natives for some 400 years previously. Therefore, La Calera means "quicklime mine".
The estate of La Calera belonged to the Jesuits up to 1767. The turning point came in 1842, when it was acquired by Bolivian citizen Ildefonso Huici, who started industrialising it with local products. By 1844, a small town had emerged consisting mainly in a number of workers' dwellings located around the factories and production centres established in it, giving life to what La Calera is today.
Due to its strategic crossroads location on the central valley and the pioneering and entrepreneurial work of locals and immigrants (Palestinian immigrants, Germans, Italians), La Calera has managed to remain a significant commercial and services centre to the interior of the Valparaiso Region, even though it is not the capital city of the Province. It also remains an important industrial base, employing a fair share of the rural population around it.
Taking into account the fact that La Calera is a very small town with an infrastructure and economy not necessarily noteworthy in the area, the city has developed its commerce in a very advanced way, maintaining itself essential for a number of services and businesses that see on it, a closer and affordable alternative to Santiago or Valparaíso.
The population surrounding it, on a radius of 15 km (9 mi) overpasses 150,000 people, which allows the development of the city as a commercial centre. Mainstreets of "José Joaquín Perez" and "Arturo Prat" have plenty of stores and shops, some of them owned originally by Palestinians and mainly aimed to the working class.
Noteworthy is the case of Seidemann Megastores, which has three more branches in Quillota and La Calera. Two of the five Chilean biggest chain retailers companies in South America, namely Fallabella and Ripley, and four of the six largest supermarket firms in Chile all have stores in La Calera, something very unlikely for a town of some 50,000 people anywhere in Chile. In addition to that, the main Fruits & Vegetables and Livestock Markets of the region are based in the town. All of which shows its strategic importance, leaving La Calera commanding over a level investment and services much disproportionate to its real size.
Industries and commercial markets
According to data from the Census 2002 by the National Statistics Institute, the commune's population was 49,503 inhabitants (24,134 men and 25,369 women). Of these, 47,836 (96.6%) lived in urban areas and 1,667 (3.4%) in rural areas. Its 2007 estimated population was 50,644. La Calera holds 3.21% of the total population of the region. The city's central location in between Santiago de Chile and Valparaiso on the coast made the city of La Calera a true crossroads of industrial development.
Amongst the important immigrant communities set in La Calera before 1950, Palestinians and Italians stand out, which makes the town with the largest proportion of Palestine people in Latin America. The small but well prominent Palestinian community was recently reported in international news media. Even a former Mayor of the city was of Palestinian descent. As mentioned, Italians as well as French immigrants have established a thriving agricultural economy.
The demonym for a person from La Calera is Calerano for a man, or Calerana for a woman. Notable Caleranos include:
As a commune, La Calera is a third-level administrative division of Chile, administered by a Communal Council (Concejo Comunal), which is headed by a directly elected Mayor. The current Mayor, as of December 2008 is Dr. Eduardo Martínez Machuca (Christian Democrat). The Communal Council has the following members:
- Trinidad Rojo (RN)
- Margarita Osorio (independent)
- Ricardo Aliaga (DC)
- Gustavo Arancibia (PS)
- Orietta Valencia (PRSD)
- Lautaro Correa (PS)
Within the electoral divisions of Chile, La Calera is represented in the Chamber of Deputies by Mr. Eduardo Cerda (PDC) and Mrs. Andrea Molina (UDI) as part of the 10th electoral district, (together with La Ligua, Petorca, Cabildo, Papudo, Zapallar, Puchuncaví, Quintero, Nogales La Cruz, Quillota and Hijuelas). The commune is represented in the Senate by Ignacio Walker Prieto (PDC) and Lily Pérez San Martín (RN) as part of the 5th senatorial constituency (Valparaíso-Cordillera).
- (Spanish) "Municipality of La Calera". Retrieved 29 July 2010.
- (Spanish) "National Statistics Institute". Retrieved 30 July 2010.
- "Chile Time". WorldTimeZones.org. Retrieved 2010-07-29.
- "Chile Summer Time". WorldTimeZones.org. Retrieved 2010-07-29.