Valdivia,commune insouthern Chile administered by the Municipality of Valdivia. The city is named after its founder Pedro de Valdivia and is located at the confluence of the Calle-Calle, Valdiviaand Cau-Cau Rivers, approximately 15 km (9 mi) east of the coastal towns of Corral and Niebla. Since October 2007, Valdivia has been the capital of Los Ríos Region and is also the capital of Valdivia Province. The commune of Valdivia had 140,559 inhabitants (Valdivianos) of which 127,750 lived in the city according to the 2002 census. The main economic activities include tourism, wood pulp manufacturing, forestry, metallurgy, and beer production. The city is also the home of the Austral University of Chile, founded in 1954, and Centro de Estudios Científicos.
The city of Valdivia and Chiloé Archipelago were once the two southernmost enclaves of the Spanish Empire. From 1645 to 1740, the city depended directly on the Viceroyalty of Peru that financed the building of the Valdivian fort system, which turned Valdivia into one of the most fortified cities of the New World. In the second half of 19th century, Valdivia was the port of entry for German immigrants who were given land and settled in the surrounding areas.
The city was severely damaged by the Great Chilean Earthquake of 1960 — the most powerful earthquake ever recorded. Debris and destroyed buildings from the earthquake can still be found in the suburban areas — land subsidence and sediments make navigation of the local rivers complex, with some ruined buildings still adjoining the water.