Chile Travel Guide

from Travel Insurance Direct
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The Republic of Chile is located on a thin strip of land between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean in the southern part of South America . It is west of the Continental Divide of the Andes mountain range and borders with Peru to the north, Argentina to the east, Boliva to the north-east and the Pacific Coast on the south and western side.


Patagonia extends to the southern tip of the country and the Strait of Magellan and an island called Tierra del Fuego , which is shared with Argentina . Several other islands in the Pacific Ocean also claimed as part of Chile , include the Antarctic areas of the Juan Fernandez islands , Diego Ramirez islands, and Easter Island . Because of the length of this narrow country, it is fascinating in that the northern part is located in arid desert, and the southern tip is close to the South Pole.

Chile was initially run by the Incas in the northern area. In 1541 Santiago was discovered by the Spanish and Chile won its independence from Spain in 1818.


The country is comprised of three regions, namely, the Andes mountain range which runs from east to west and dominates approx. one third of the country, the lowland area in the centre of the country, which is highly populated with fertile valleys, and the coastal range.


The Andes mountains contain many volcanoes, and Ojos del Salado at 22,500’ is the second highest peak in South America. The Loa and the Baker rivers are the longest in the country. At the southern end of the country is Punta Arenas which is the most southerly situated city in the world. Further south from there is the Strait of Magellan and the island of Tierra del Fuego which lies between Chile and Argentina . The most southern point of the country is Cape Horn .


The population is mainly White, with Mestizo (a mix of indigenous people and the early Spanish settlers), Amerindians and others. In Central Chile the Araucanians, in the North the Changos, and the Fuegians of Tierra del Fuego to the south. Most of the population lives in or around Santiago , the capital city, and Vina Del Mar . The dominant religion is Roman Catholic with some Protestant and small Muslim and Jewish communities. Spanish is the official language with some Amerindian languages also spoken.


The country’s main economy is derived from mining its rich source of minerals, including iron, gold, silver and copper. El Teniente has the largest open-pit copper mine in the world, which can be toured. There are some nice beaches in the north, close to the Peruvian border. The town of Arica also has some nice beaches in the coastal desert. There are lovely National Parks in this area with beautiful scenery and snow-capped mountains and lakes. The famous Nasca lines which are believed to have been made pre-Columbian civilizations of Asca Indians can be seen close to the Peruvian border

The central area of Chile , with its Mediterranean style climate is a good area for wine-growing and there are many vineyards producing a wonderful variety of wines including Merlots, Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnays. Tours and wine-tastings are available. This area is also known as the country’s cultural and political centre. The country’s capital and largest city, Santiago , is located there, along with Valparaiso and Concepcion.


The capital city, Santiago , is a modern place with good nightlife, restaurants, and many interesting cultural attractions. From this point it is easy to visit Valparaiso , and take trips to hike in the Andes mountains range. Further south from Santiago is the Bio Bio river and lakes area. The second largest city in Chile is Concepcion.


In the southern part of the country, in the area from Cape Horn up to the Bio-Bio River , the climate is humid and cold with heavy rainfall, snowy mountain peaks, glaciers and islands. For the hardy, this is a great place to explore this beautiful area and view the wildlife, such as sea lions, whales and many species of birds. At the most southerly tip is Punta Arenas and the Straits of Magellan with its penguin colonies. The famous Easter Island is well worth a visit to view its strange

There are many activities available throughout this beautiful country to suit any taste. Scuba diving and water-sport activities are available at most of the coastal areas, and also at Easter Island . ( The isolated Easter Island is located in the South Pacific approx. 2,000 miles from Chile . It is basically a volcanic island which is famous for its giant stone statues).


Bird watching tours are available, as well as archaeology and geology, astronomy and ethnic tours. You can visit volcanoes, hot-springs and spa resorts. Go trekking, mountaineering, biking, fishing, horseback riding, kayaking, skiing, rafting or play a round of golf.



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