The first Croatian immigrants came from Dalmatia, mid 19th century, escaping from war or philloxera plague that wiped out vineyards of the islands in the Adriatic sea. However the first Croatian registered in the country was Arturo Zivovic, who arrived in the 17th century on an English pirate ship belonged to Sir Francis Drake. Zivovic abandoned the ship in Chile and stayed on land for the sake of love, it is said that he fell in love with a Chilean woman.
The Croats that arrived in Region of Magellan were mostly from Brac and Split. In 1843 three Croatian sailors were hired by Chilean Navy to travel to Strait of Magellan in a supply and relief mission at Fort Bulnes, a settlement founded that same year. Later 1880 to 1890 Croatian immigration increased significantly mainly due to economic crisis after the devastation of crops of grapes in the islands in the Adriatic sea and also escaping from Austrian Empire oppression, and in the other hand attracted by job and enrichment opportunities in southern region of Chile opened for all hard working people. By the end of 1890 there were more than 2000 Croats in Punta Arenas.
And they were hardy worker indeed. They discovered rich auriferous deposits. they were pioneers in the Magellan region shipping industry, they were successful livestock farmers, prominent in politics, science and literature. They engaged in trade, construction, sawmill, hospitality, among others activities.
Some of them were high considered in the daily chores of the colonial territory of Punta Arenas, even their names are well remembered in the region, such as Tafra, Mimica, Boric, Martinic, Goic, Bonacic, Peric, Kusanovic, Vilicic, Yutronic, among others. Actually Croatian immigrant was the ethnic group that better adapted and lived in harmony with the natural elements of the southern region of Chile.
Interestingly various institutions created by Croatians are still in operation such as,
Dalmatian Mutual relief Society, created in 1896.
Croatian Mutual relief Society, 1900.
4th Fire Station of Punta Arenas, founded in 1902.
Croatian Social Club of Punta Arenas, 1915, where there is a restaurant in functions which is considered one of the best in town.
Sokol, 1912, which is a successful sport club.
Croatian Ladies Social Comity, founded in 1917.
Croatian Club of Porvenir City, tierra del Fuego Island, 1926.
Republic of Croatia School, 1956.
The cities of Sandy Point and Antofagasta are sister cities of city of Split in Dalmatia.
Tourist Attractions related to Croatians in Punta Arenas: Croatian Square and Croatian Neighbourhood.
The Croatian Square:
Monument to Croatian immigrant: this monument is a symbolic representation of a Croatian family lifting their Chilean-Croatian descendant up in their arms.
The obelisk is 14,5mts high, built in white cement and stone.The figures in bronze are 3,50 mts tall.
It was inaugurated in 1970 by the sculptor Mdrag Zuvkovic.
Statue of Croatian Coat of Arms: this monument was built and donated to punta Arenas city on 30 September 2000 by the Croatian Mutual Relief Society to celebrate its 100 years in functions and the 13th anniversary of independence of Republic of Croatia.
It is 2,50mts in granite.
Bust of Mark Marulic (Split, 18 August 1450- 5 January 1524): he was a Croatian national poet and christian humanist, known as the Crown of Croatian Medieval Age and The Father of Croatian Renaissance.
He was also the first who defined and used the notion of Psychology.
The bust was erected on 23 November 2004.
It is 2mts high in concrete and bronze.
The Croatian Neighbourhood: it is one of the oldest district of the city, 1880, therefore saves valuable architectural evidence of the golden age of the city.
The name Croatian has been taken because that was the numerous ethnic-group in the neighbourhood, however it is true that the area received English families, Greek, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Chilean families that came from Island of Chiloé. All these races together led to an urban space where various culture and tradition coexisted and great diversity in work activities.
Next some pictures of typical houses of Croatian neighbourhood.