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ABOUT CHILE

Chile is located in South America. The country borders the South Pacific Ocean to the west, the Andes mountain range to the east, the Atacama Desert to the north and Ice Fields (glaciers) to the south. Chile shares borders with Argentina, Peru and Bolivia.

 

Chile has a population of approximately 17,508,260 (July 2015, est.), divided into a diverse mix of ethnic groups:


White and non-indigenous 88.9%
Mapuche 9.1%,
Aymara 0.7%,
Other indigenous groups 1% (includes Rapa Nui, Likan Antai, Quechua, Colla, Diaguita, Kawesqar, Yagan or Yamana), unspecified 0.3% (2012 est.)

Geography

Continental Chile is the longest north-south trending country in the world, extending across 38 degrees of latitude. It has a strategic location relative to sea lanes between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (Strait of Magellan, Beagle Channel, Drake Passage). The country boasts the Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world, spreading across the northern part of the country, and also the crater lake of Ojos del Salado, the world's highest lake at 6,390 m.

 

Also a part of Chile are Easter Island, the Juan Fernández Archipelago (Robinson Crusoe, Alejandro Selkirk, Santa Clara islands and other smaller islets), the Salas and Gómez islands and the Desaventurada islands.

Area

Continental Chile: 755,776 km2 
 

Oceanic Chile: 320 km2 (Easter Island, Juan Fernández Archipelago, Salas and Gómez islands and Desaventuradas islands)

 

Antarctic Chile: 1,250,257 km2

Territorial Chile - Total: 2,006,354 km2

 

Coastline: 6,435 km

Climate

Temperate in General
Desert in the North
Mediterranean in the Central Region
Cool and damp in the South

 

Terrain:
Low coastal mountains, fertile central valley, rugged Andes in the east

Chile’s Wine Country

Chile is fortunate to have the climate conditions ideal for wine grape growing: hot summers, cool breezes from the coast and moderate rainfall.

 

The Central Valley, for example, is found between the Andes and the Coastal Mountain Range, crossed by rivers that make for fertile soil. These lands are able to grow grape varieties that were originally brought from Europe, plus some that can no longer be found on the old continent, such as Carménère. Other varieties to be found here are Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

 

Other valleys worth a visit are the Aconcagua, Casablanca, Colchagua, San Antonio-Leyda, Maipo, Cachapoal, Curicó and Maule.

 

These are all key destinations on a visit to Chile. Aside from sampling some of the country’s best wines, you can visit boutique hotels and restaurants, go horseback riding and even follow some bicycle paths around the different vineyards.

 

Valparaíso

 

Valparaíso, one of Chile’s main ports and most picturesque and diverse cities, is located on the coast in the V Region, about 110 km from Santiago. Once called the “Jewel of the Pacific,” in 2003 its historic sector was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

The city’s buildings and houses are built on its hills, with elevators, staircases and winding streets to take you to its different levels, to see old mansions, street art, busy cafés and restaurants, and views from above of the port and ocean.
 

Valparaíso is also home to one of Pablo Neruda’s houses, La Sebastiana, located on Cerro Florida. Like all of his houses, it is filled with his interesting collections and has a spectacular view of the bay. While on the coast, a visit to Isla Negra, where his third house is located, might be a good idea.

 

Read more here:

Lonely-Planet Valparaiso

PLACES TO VISIT

--CENTRAL VALLEY--

PLACES TO VISIT

--THE NORTH--

San Pedro de Atacama

 

San Pedro de Atacama is a small town located 102km east from Calama, capital of the Loa Province, in the II Region of Chile. It is one of many oases found in the highlands near the Andes Mountains, part of the Atacama Desert. Its surrounding landscape includes an eternal blue sky, desert, salt flats, volcanoes, geysers and hot springs. The town is filled with restaurants, cafés and bars. You will also find craft fairs and shops. Do not forget to look for the natural way to protect yourself from altitude sickness with coca leaves, chachacima and flor de la puna.

Moon Valley

Located in the Cordillera de la Sal (Salt Mountain Range), it is an extraordinary attraction because of its close resemblance to the surface of the moon, and it is an enormous natural coliseum.

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PLACES TO VISIT

--THE SOUTH--

Lakes District

 

The starting off point to visit this part of Chile is the city of Puerto Varas, found in the X Region of Chile, on the edge of Lago Llanquihue with a spectacular view of the Volcán Osorno, one of the most active volcanoes in Chile, at 2,652 m in height.

 

The Osorno also towers over the Lago de Todos los Santos and the city of Petrohué. Farther north are the Lagos Rupanco, Puyehue, Ranco, Rinihue, Calafquén and Panguipulli, all surrounded by national parks, lake side villages and spectacular landscapes.

This region of Chile is known for its horseback riding, trekking and climbing, water sports in summer and skiing in the winter, plus salmon and trout fishing, or simply driving from town to town just for the view.

 

Read more here:

Lonely-Planet Los Lagos

Chiloé

The Chiloé Archipelago is made up of several islands off the Coast of the Chilean mainland, separated by the Chacao Channel in the north, the Sea of Chiloé to the east and the Gulf of Corcovado to the southeast. The main island is called Isla Grande de Chiloé (the Great Island of Chiloé).

 

Chiloé comes from the Mapudungun word chillwe, meaning the home of the seagull. Mapudungun, meaning ‘speech of the earth’ is the language of the Mapuche indigenous community, spoken in Chile and Argentina.

Torres del Paine

Considered one of Chile’s and South America’s most spectacular national parks, Torres del Paine, found in the XII Region of Chile, encompasses mountains (which soar 2,000 m above the Patagonia steppe), glaciers, rivers and lakes in Chile’s Patagonia. The National Park is located 112 km north of the city of Puerto Natales and 312 km south of Punta Arenas

Chiloé is best known for its folklore, mythology, cuisine (the seafood and meat dish called Curanto, for example) and its unique architecture, especially its wooden churches, 16 of which were chosen as Unesco Heritage sites.

Read more info here:

Lonely-Planet Chiloé

Paine means "blue" in the native Tehuelche language, one of the Chon languages spoken in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.

 

There are two main trails to explore the park, the “W,” which is the most common, passing the park’s most important landmarks and can take four days, or the “O,” circling the park and passing the northernmost part, and takes seven days.

 

Read more here:

Lonely-Planet Torres del Paine