Talca (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈtalka]) is a city and commune in Chile located about 255 km (158 mi) south of Santiago, and is the capital of both Talca Province and Maule Region (7th Region of Chile). As of the 2012 census, the city had a population of 201,142.
The city is an important economic center, with agricultural (wheat) and manufacturing activities, as well as wine production. It is also the location of the Universidad de Talca and the Catholic University of Maule, among others. The Catholic Church of Talca has held a prominent role in the history of Chile.
The inhabitants of Talca have a saying, Talca, Paris & London, born from a hat shop which had placed a ribbon stating that it had branches in Paris and London. The shop was owned by a French immigrant named Jean-Pierre Lagarde.
As a commune, Talca is a third-level administrative division of Chile administered by a municipal council, headed by an alcalde who is directly elected every four years. The 2008-2012 alcalde is Juan Castro Prieto (Independent Democratic Union, centre-right).
Within the electoral divisions of Chile, Talca is represented in the Chamber of Deputies by Sergio Aguiló (PS) and Germán Verdugo (RN) as part of the 37th electoral district, which consists entirely of the Talca commune. The commune is represented in the Senate by Juan Antonio Coloma Correa (UDI) and Andrés Zaldívar Larraín (PDC) as part of the 10th senatorial constituency (Maule-North).
The Maule Region (Spanish: VII Región del Maule, pronounced [ˈmau̯.le]) is one of Chile's 15 first order administrative divisions. Its capital is Talca. The region derives its name from the Maule River which, running westward from the Andes, bisects the region and spans a basin of about 20,600 km2. The Maule river is of considerable historic interest because, among other reasons, it marked the southern limits of the Inca Empire.
Forestry and agriculture, led by wine grape plantations, are the main economic activities. The Maule region is Chile’s leading wine-making region, producing 50% of all the country’s fine export wines, and a number of the largest vineyards are located here. Owing to its high concentration of vineyards, the Curicó valley, which means "black water" in Mapudungun – is considered the core of Chile’s wine industry. Wine-making is a traditional activity, some vineyards dating back to 1830. The increased wine-growing area is matched by the development of the industry’s infrastructure, technology, and equipment.
In addition to wine, two export-oriented agricultural items have emerged dynamically: fruit, vegetables and flowers.
Electricity, gas and water are the second most important economic activity. The Maule River feeds five hydroelectric power plants, including the Colbún-Machicura complex.
The Maule Region has produced a remarkable number of famous men and women, in particular writers and poets but also, statesmen and presidents, scientists and naturalists, churchmen, musicians and folklorists, journalists and historians. Thus, the Maule river, the long and wide artery that runs through the region, has been considered Chile's literary river par excellence. Many novels and short stories have had the river as their main background or protagonist. Several anthologies, author's dictionaries and essays have given their account of the cultural wealth of the region.
The region boasts of many small towns and villages with well-preserved colonial rural architecture, both in the religious as well as the civil fields. The Talca and Linares dioceses (the two Roman Catholic dioceses in the Maule region) have several parish churches of particular beauty and architectural and historic value.
The Andean orogen has a series of bends or oroclines. The Bolivian Orocline is a seaward concave bending in the coast of South America and the Andes Mountains at about 18° S. At this point the orientation of the Andes turns from Northwest in Peru to South in Chile and Argentina. The Andean segment north and south of the orocline have been rotated 15° to 20° counter clockwise and clockwise respectively. The Bolivian Orocline area overlaps with the area of maximum width of the Altiplano Plateau and according to Isacks (1988) the orocline is related to crustal shortening. The specific point at 18° S where the coastline bends is known as the "Arica Elbow". Further south lies the Maipo Orocline or Maipo Transition Zone located between 30° S and 38°S with a break in trend at 33° S.[clarification needed] Near the southern tip of the Andes lies the Patagonian orocline.
The Andean region cuts across several natural and floristic regions due to its extension from Caribbean Venezuela to cold, windy and wet Cape Horn passing through the hyperarid Atacama Desert. Rainforests and tropical dry forests used to encircle much of the northern Andes but are now greatly diminished, especially in the Chocó and inter-Andean valleys of Colombia. As a direct opposite of the humid Andean slopes are the relatively dry Andean slopes in most of western Peru, Chile and Argentina. Along with several Interandean Valles, they are typically dominated by deciduous woodland, shrub and xeric vegetation, reaching the extreme in the slopes near the virtually lifeless Atacama Desert.
About 30,000 species of vascular plants live in the Andes, with roughly half being endemic to the region, surpassing the diversity of any other hotspot. The small tree Cinchona pubescens, a source of quinine which is used to treat malaria, is found widely in the Andes as far south as Bolivia. Other important crops that originated from the Andes are tobacco and potatoes. The high-altitude Polylepis forests and woodlands are found in the Andean areas of Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Chile. These trees, by locals referred to as Queñua, Yagual and other names, can be found at altitudes of 4,500 m (14,760 ft) above sea level. It remains unclear if the patchy distribution of these forests and woodlands is natural, or the result of clearing which began during the Incan period. Regardless, in modern times the clearance has accelerated, and the trees are now considered to be highly endangered, with some believing that as little as 10% of the original woodland remains.