Santiago, capital city of Chile, on the Mapocho River, in the central part of the country. It is situated at an elevation of about 520 m (about 1700 ft) on an alluvial plain, with the snowcapped Andes Mountains visible to the east. With a population of 4,295,593 (1992), Santiago is Chile's largest city and its principal commercial, manufacturing, transportation, and cultural center. Government activities and tourism are also important to the economic base. The National Historical Museum houses collections from the pre-Columbian, colonial, and independence periods. Santiago was established in 1541 by Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia in an area inhabited by the Picunche people. In 1647 the community was severely damaged by an earthquake. When Chile achieved independence in 1818, Santiago became the nation's capital.