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Arica Cruises

This seaside oasis among golden sand dunes is Chile's northernmost gateway; it is also a rapidly developing resort. Located just 30 miles from the border of Peru and linked to Bolivia by land and air, Arica enjoys an interesting cultural exchange. The city lies at the foot of the Morro headland, with the Andes as a distant backdrop. A mild climate, with year-round temperatures of 70-75 degrees, gardens and parks brimming with luxuriant flora have earned Arica the name "City of Eternal Spring."

During the colonial period Arica was important as the Pacific end of the silver route from Potosi. Independence as part of Peru and the re-routing of Bolivian trade through Cobija led to a decline from which the city recovered with the building of rail links with Tacna and La Paz.

Arica's most prominent site is the Morro, rising steeply above the city. It was the scene of a great victory by Chile over Peru in the War of the Pacific on June 7, 1880. At the foot of the Morro is the Plaza Colon with the cathedral of San Marcos, built in iron by Gustave Eiffel. He also designed the nearby Customs House.

Some 10 miles out of Arica is the Azapa valley and the Archaeological Museum of San Miguel. The museum is part of the University of Tarapaca and contains an important collection of fine Andean and coastal woven fabrics, baskets and pottery. It is also known for its exhibits of Chinchorro mummies, the world's oldest, mummified using a peculiar sand technique. On the road between Arica and the museum, petroglyphs can be seen on the hillside rising out of the desert.

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