Zona Sur (Southern Zone) is one of the
five natural regions on which
CORFO divided continental Chile in 1950.
Cattle grazing outside Osorno.
Its northern border is formed by the
, the limit
with the Central Chile
with the Pacific
Ocean, by the east with the Andean mountains and Argentina. Its southern border is the Chacao Channel, beyond it lies the Austral
Although many lovely lakes can be found in the Andean and coastal
regions of central Chile, the south (Sur de Chile) is definitely
the country's most lacustrine area. Southern Chile stretches from below the
Río Bío-Bío at about 37°
south latitude to below Isla de Chiloé at about 43.4° south latitude.
In this lake
district of Chile, the valley between the Andes and the coastal range
is closer to sea level,
and the hundreds of rivers that descend from the Andes form lakes,
some quite large, as they reach the lower elevations. They drain into the
ocean through other rivers, some of which (principally the Calle-Calle
River, which flows by the city of Valdivia) are the only ones in the whole country that are
navigable for any stretch.
The Central Valley's
is submerged in the ocean and forms the Golfo de Ancud
. Isla de
Chiloé, with its rolling hills, is the last important
elevation of the coastal range of mountains.
The lakes in this region are remarkably beautiful. The snow covered Andes
form a constant backdrop to vistas of clear blue or even turquoise
waters, as at Lago Todos los Santos.
The rivers that descend from the Andes rush
over volcanic rocks, forming numerous white-water sections and
waterfalls. The vegetation, including many ferns in the shady
areas, is a lush green. Some sections still consist of old-growth
forests, and in all seasons, but especially in the spring and
summer, there are plenty of wildflowers and flowering trees.
pastures in the northernmost section, around Osorno, are well suited for raising cattle; milk, cheese,
and butter are important products of that area.
All kinds of
berries grow in the area, some of which are exported, and
freshwater farming of various species of trout and salmon has
developed, with cultivators taking advantage of the abundant supply
of clear running water. The lumber industry is also important. A
number of tourists, mainly Chileans and Argentines, visit the area
during the summer.
The south is one of the rainiest areas in the world. One of the
wettest spots in the region is Valdivia, with an annual rainfall of
2,535.4 millimeters. The summer months of January and February are
the driest, with a monthly average precipitation of sixty-seven
millimeters. The winter months of June and July each produce on
average a deluge of 410.6 millimeters. Temperatures in the area are
moderate. In Valdivia, the two summer months average 16.7 °C,
whereas the winter months average 7.9 °C.
Flora and fauna
Many of Chile's distinctive animal species have been decimated as
they have been pushed farther and farther into the remaining
wilderness areas by human occupation of the land. This is the case
with the huemul
, a large deer, and the
, the largest bird of its kind;
both animals are on the national coat of arms. The remaining
, which are bigger than their
California cousins, have been driven to isolated national parks in
the south by farmers who continue to hunt them because they
occasionally kill sheep and goats.
Southern Chile was during the time of Spanish conquest and colony
populated by indigenous Mapuches
northwards and by
south of the river, both groups
are classified as Araucanian. The mountainous zones in the east
were populated by Pehuenches Puelches
. Until the Disaster of Curalaba
and the following
Destruction of Seven
around 1600 the southern zone was part of the General Captaincy of Chile
Spanish Empire. After 1600, the Spanish settlements were
destroyed or abandoned with the exception of Valdivia that was re-founded in 1645 with heavy
The zone between Valdivia and Chiloé was
gradually incorporated into Chile by a series of agreements with
local Huilliches and founding of settlements. By 1850 this process
was culminated with the immigration of thousands of German
immigrants to Valdivia, Osorno and Llanquihue. The zone north of
Valdivia was incorporated into Chile in the 1880s during the
occupation of the