Chile stretches 2,760 miles (4,200km) from Tripartite in the north to Aguila Islet in the south, making it one of the longest countries in the world. To the west of Chile is the Pacific Ocean and to the east are the Andes mountains. It’s bordered by Argentina, Bolivia & Peru. Chile is an incredible country with bountiful natural beauty wherever you go.
Time Zone > Chile Standard Time
Main Languages > Spanish, Mapudungun & Quechua
Calling Code > +56
Vaccinations > Hepatitis A, Tetanus & Diphtheria
What’s in a name?
One theory says Chile comes from a tribal chief called Tili who used to rule the area. Another says that a valley looked very similar to another valley in Peru, so the country was named after it. One last theory says that the word “chilli” in Mapudungun, translates to “where the world ends” or “the deepest point of the earth.”
In Chile, the currency is called the Peso.
Type C is widely used in Chile.
Most of the Chilean population live in and around the capital Santiago. Many Chileans have European backgrounds, with most ancestry coming from Spain & the Basque Region. Also, there’s a significant Mestizo population, the result of intermarriage between European settlers & indigenous groups. The most significant surviving indigenous group, the Mapuche make up 5% of the population.
- Chileans greet one another with a handshake, hug or kiss on the right cheek
- Catholicism is widely practised with religious holidays & festivals celebrated
- Chileans often eat 4 meals a day with the extra meal called ‘Once’
- If invited to someone’s house, take sweets or chocolates or wine as a gift
The capital city Santiago is also the largest, with a population of over 5 million people. The metropolis spreads into a valley flanked on one side by the towering Andes mountains. The neighbourhood of Bellavista is worth visiting with a great cultural scene. For a great view, head up to Cerro San Cristobal, where you can take in the city sprawl & the surrounding area.
Heading north along the Pan-America Highway, you will eventually reach Antofagasta. It’s situated between the Pacific Ocean to the west & the desert to the east. The area around the city is a major copper mining area & an entry point into the Atacama Desert.
Vina del Mar
The tourist town of Vina del Mar is also known as the garden city. The city is home to many parks & beaches. Every summer the population soars, as people from all over the country, flock here on their holidays.
The Atacama Desert
Not many words can express the awe of The Atacama Desert. It’s the driest place on earth, with a landscape which is both mysterious & breathtaking. What more, it’s one of the best places in the world to observe the night sky due to the lack of pollution & high altitude. I guess that’s why it’s home to the Alma observatory which is the world’s most significant solar project.
The city became a major port during the late 19th Century due to its location along the Pacific coast. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage city & is set in a natural amphitheatre. The buildings have been adapted to the environment, the city itself has been well maintained & has noticeable influences from around the world.
It is home to nearly 60,000 Magellanic penguins & found in the deep south. It’s located on the Magdalena and Marta Islands with the closest city being Punta Arenas. Los Pinguinos was set up in 1966, to protect the penguins from the threat of fishing. The area has a 30-kilometre no-fishing zone around it so the penguins can feed on their food source.
About 2,300 miles from the mainland is Easter Island. People are drawn here due to the 900 high stone heads which were carved by ancient Polynesians. The heads weigh around 13 tonnes & average around 4 metres in height. It was named a world heritage site in 1995.
Torres del Paine National Park
The biosphere reserve of Torres del Paine is one of the most protected places in the country. The national park is found in the Patagonia region close to the city of Puerto Natales. It’s an area of incredible natural wonder with an array of fascinating wildlife like pumas and guanacos. Remember though that the weather can change very quickly here so come prepared.
- For information on how to get to Torres del Paine National Park, please click here