Concepción is a Chilean city and commune belonging to the metropolitan area of Greater Concepción, its one of the largest urban conurbations of Chile. The town of Concepcion has a significant impact on domestic trade being part of the region with most industrialization of the country and politically it has the second majority of representatives in the National Congress of Chile. Its location is in the called Zona Centro Sur (Central South Zone), in the geographic center of the country, and it is the capital of the Concepción Province and VIII Bío Bío Region.
Greater Concepción (Gran Concepción, including Talcahuano, San Pedro de la Paz, Hualpén, Chiguayante, Penco, Tomé, Lota, Coronel, Hualqui and Concepción) is the second-largest conurbation in the country, with 945,650 inhabitants (2012 census). Individually, it is the 11th largest commune in the country, with a population of 229,665.
Concepción was founded by Pedro de Valdivia in 1550 north of the Bío Bío River, at the site which is today known as Penco. At that time it was given the name Concepción del Nuevo Extremo. The new settlement of Concepción was just a few kilometers north of La Frontera (The Frontier), the boundary between Spanish territory and the land of the Mapuche, an American Indian ethnic group that remained independent until the 1870s. The settlement was formally recognized by the Spanish authorities as a town two years later by a royal decree. It was given a coat-of-arms that is still in use today.
Although Concepción was a significant military settlement for the Captaincy-General of Chile, it was overrun and destroyed by Mapuche armies in 1554, and once again after being refounded in 1555. Concepción was restored during the governorship of García Hurtado de Mendoza when he landed there and built a fort on the Alto de Pinto in 1557. The town was refounded once more on January 6, 1558, by captain Jerónimo de Villegas. It became the headquarters of the military forces engaged against the Mapuche in La Araucanía over the next two centuries, growing to a population of 10,000 despite a siege in 1564 and other attacks by the Mapuche. Concepción was the home of the Real Audiencia from 1565 to 1575.
Earthquakes and tsunamis, which razed the town in 1570, 1657, 1687, 1730 and 1751, led the authorities to move the town to its current site in the Valle de la Mocha, alongside the Bío Bío River; the old site lay empty until March 29, 1842, when the present town of Penco was founded.
The new site for the town of Concepción became the main town of the Intendancy of Concepción, whose jurisdiction extended from the Maule River to La Frontera. The first Intendant of Concepción was the Irishman Ambrose O'Higgins, Marquis of Osorno, who later became Royal Governor of Chile and Viceroy of Peru.
When the First National Government Board met in Santiago on September 18, 1810, citizens of Concepción joined up. Concepción was used as the point of entry by the Spanish Army in the attempt by the Viceroyalty of Peru to re-conquer Chile. Concepción politicians and soldiers became a significant political force in the newly independent country.
On January 1, 1818, Ambrose O'Higgins's son, Bernardo O'Higgins, proclaimed and took the oath of the Chilean War of Independence in the main square of Concepción, which since then has been known as "Plaza de la Independencia". On February 20, 1835, the town again was largely destroyed by an earthquake and had to be rebuilt.
As of 2010, Concepción is the second largest city of Chile. The Universidad de Concepción, founded in 1919, became the first private university in Chile. The neighboring harbor of Talcahuano is the site of the largest naval base in Chile.
27 February 2010 earthquake
On February 27, 2010, an 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck the city of Concepción, killing more than 521 people and injuring thousands nationwide. Following the earthquake, geologists relying on global positioning satellite (GPS) data concluded that the city had been displaced roughly 3 meters (10 feet) to the west as a result of the event. Fortunately, the city avoided the tsunami that followed the earthquake.
After the 2010 Chile earthquake, a prison riot began in Concepción's El Manzano prison following a failed escape attempt by the internees. Different parts of the prison were set on fire and the riot was controlled only after the guards shot into the air and received help from military units. As of 5 March 2010, a Peruvian field hospital has been deployed to the city.