San José de Maipo is the most sparsely populated commune in the region, located in Cordillera Province, Santiago Metropolitan Region, some 48 kilometers south-east of capital Santiago, bordered on the east by Argentina, across the Andes.
San Jose de Maipo was named a town by order of Ambrosio O’Higgins in 1792. The Governor of Chile and future Viceroy of Peru considered it necessary to give it the power of a town to better support mining that took place around San Pedro Nolasco.
During the 19th century the area was the scene of several important events in the independence of Chile, since because of its proximity to Argentina it was used by General San Martin and the liberating Army of the Andes to support the Bernardine cause of O’Higgins.
At the end of that century mining began in the area. During the 20th Century, the commune became very important for the city of Santiago, since the first hydroelectric power station of the zone was constructed there (Maitenes), and also an aqueduct was constructed that supplies potable water to the city from Andean glaciers. Because of the purity of its air, sanatoriums were built for respiratory patients from all over Chile. Towards the end of the century ecotourism became a pole of development, thanks to the Maipo river’s suitability for white water rafting.