Welcome to Ovalle, a city in the Coquimbo Region of Chile that is often referred to as an oasis in the midst of barren hills. Founded in 1831 as a settlement, Ovalle has a population of over 113,000 people and is the capital of the Limarí Province. The city was named in honor of Chile’s vice-president, José Tomás Ovalle.
One of the main attractions in Ovalle is the trail that leads from the city and lasts roughly 50 minutes. The trail features relatively safe bathing and an area where dinosaur fossils can be found. On the trail, visitors can also see a life-sized model of a brachiosaurus.
Sports enthusiasts will be pleased to know that Ovalle is home to the town’s football club, Deportes Ovalle. Famous players have played for the club, including 1982 FIFA World Cup player Rodolfo Dubó.
According to the 2002 census of the National Statistics Institute, Ovalle spans an area of 3,834.5 km2 (1,481 sq mi) and has 98,089 inhabitants (47,805 men and 50,284 women). Of these, 73,790 (75.2%) lived in urban areas and 24,299 (24.8%) in rural areas. The population grew by 15.4% (13,107 persons) between the 1992 and 2002 censuses.
The climate in Ovalle is semi-desertic with subtropical influence, with long summers and short winters. Ovalle has hot and dry summers, with temperatures in the range 22–40°C, occasionally with temperatures above 43°C. Thunderstorms can hit the city in February and March, but this happens normally in the surrounding areas of Ovalle. Winters are humid and fresh, and is when rains occur. The temperatures in winter are generally lower than nearby cities like La Serena or Punitaqui, due to cold winds that come from the Andes through the Ovalle valley. Temperatures rarely fall below -5°C, but when polar waves affect the area, temperatures can drop down to -12°C.
As a commune, Ovalle 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 2012-2016 alcalde is Claudio Rentería Larrondo. Within the electoral divisions of Chile, Ovalle is represented in the Chamber of Deputies by Pedro Velásquez (Ind.) and Matías Walker (PDC) as part of the 8th electoral district, (together with Coquimbo and Río Hurtado). The commune is represented in the Senate by Gonzalo Uriarte (UDI) and Jorge Pizarro Soto (PDC) as part of the 4th senatorial constituency (Coquimbo Region).
Notable people from Ovalle include the pediatrician and biochemist Hermann Niemeyer, one of the central figures in the development of biochemistry in Chile, and Elisa Berroeta, a wood engraver and illustrator, active in Santiago and Paris.
In addition to the trail and football club, Ovalle is also home to several attractions such as the Bosque de Fray Jorge National Park, Embalse La Paloma, and Embalse Recoleta. Come and experience the lush and green oasis of Ovalle, Chile!