|Population :||15 millions|
|People||95% European descent and Mestizo, 5% Indian.|
|Language||Spanish and a handful of native languages, including Aymara, Mapuche and Rapa Nui.|
|Religion||89% roman catholic, 10% protestant, less than 1% jewish.|
Travelers are drawn to this string bean of a country because of its spectacular Pacific coastline and Andean highlands, and because of the opportunities it offers for adventure sports. Chile's distinctive culture has survived, despite having the most European community in South America, indigenous traditions persist in the Andean foothills and in the southern plains, while some of South America's finest national parks draw trekkers from all around the world.
It extends some 4300km from the desert north to the glacial south, is bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the west and shuttered by the Andes on the east. Chile shares most of its extensive eastern border with Argentina, and borders Peru and Bolivia in the north. Rarely extending beyond 200km in width, Chile makes up for longitudinal mincing by rising rapidly from sea level to 6,000m while the country's latitudinal extremes give it a formidable array of landscapes. Snow-capped volcanoes plunge to river canyons; the Great North, where some weather stations have never recorded rainfall, is opposite to storm and snow-prone Patagonia; and Chile's razored and sculpted coastline has endowed it with beaches and bays perfect for fishing and swimming.
Chile also lays claim to the offshore territories of Easter Island (3,700km west), Juan Fernández (700km west) and half of the southern island of Tierra del Fuego (which it shares with Argentina).
The variety of habitat supports distinctive flora and fauna, which are protected by an extensive system of national parks - one of the country's major draw cards for visitors. In the parks, animals such as the endangered vicuña (a wild relative of the alpaca), the Patagonian guanaco (a wild relative of the Andean llama), flamingos, pelicans, penguins, otters and sea lions do the food chain work. Chilean plant life includes stands of araucaria (the monkey-puzzle tree), cypress and rare larch trees (similar to the giant redwoods of California). Outside protected areas, extensive logging denudes the landscape at an alarming and increasing rate.
Chile's climate is as varied as its terrain, with arid but surprisingly temperate areas in the north, a heartland which enjoys a Mediterranean climate, and the wind, rain and snow-battered lands of Chilean Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego (Fireland) in the south. The rainy season in the heartland is from May to August when temperatures are cooler, getting down to an average maximum temperature of 10ºC (50ºF) in July. January's average is 28ºC (82ºF). Chilean Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego have summer averages of just 11ºC (52ºF) but if you think that is manageable, muff up and get ready for the wind chill, baby.
This area extends from the borders of Chile, Peru and Bolivia to the area of La Serena. The zone is known for having the most interesting geographic cultural and nature tours in the country. The impressive sights of Parinacota, Ojos del Salado, Licancabur Volcano and the turquoise waters of Chungara Lake, Cotacotani lagoon and Surire salt lake. El Tatio Geysers eruptions, excursions to Lauca National Park and Isluga National Park with families of vicuñas, llamas and alpacas. Condors, hawks and flamingos can be seen in the Atacama salt lake, foxes and the ñandu (ostrich-like). Besides, there are important museums such as San Miguel de Azapa in Arica and Padre Le Paige in San Pedro de Atacama. The Andean villages of Parinacota, Putre, Colchane, Caspana, San Pedro de Atacama, Toconao, Chiu chiu and Ayquina, having a very particular architecture with some of the earliest churches built in the times of the conquerors. There are impressive images of these early native cultures shown on buildings such as the huge fortresses called Pukaras that can be spotted throughout the whole area. Mining activities continue nowadays at Chuquicamata, the biggest open-pit copper mine in the world, located near Calama, considered one of the main resources for copper mining in Chile, being the country's main source of income.
This area has the most populated cities, including Santiago, the nation's capital, with a population near six million. From every corner of this magnificent city, you can look at the Andes Mountains and appreciate their beauty, specially in winter when the snowy peaks enlighten Santiago's every day scenery. Very close to Santiago on the eastern mountainside we find several ski resorts and to the south we have an important ski resort and all-year hot springs area at the Termas de Chillan, next to the Chillan volcano. The seaside area, very near Santiago is full of attractive cities and towns, beginning with Viña del Mar, considered the garden city because of its precious gardens. There are several tiny villages in the area with a lot of charisma such as Isla Negra, site of the home/museum of worldwide known poet, Pablo Neruda. You may well head north inland from the coastline via the new "Fruit Road" to the Central Valley, a prime agricultural center of expanding Chile is a long and narrow border surrounded by the Andes Mountains by the East and the Pacific Ocean by the West. Because of the large coast, it has many islands, some small and others large ones. One of the most important island is Easter Island, located 3,800Km approx. to the Chilean central coast. It has a very particular culture, beautiful dances and flora and fauna typical of the ocean area. One of the main attractions are the "Moais", giant human figures made of stone representing the adorations to their ancestors.
There are no compulsory health requirements for entry into Paraguay. You are advised to take Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccine before entering. Avoid eating and drinking local products from street vendors and restaurants with suspect hygiene or refrigeration practices.
Chile currency is Chilean Peso; 1 US Dollar = 700.19 Chilean Peso. Bank notes come in denominations of 1.000, 2.000, 5.000, 10.000 and 20.000 Chilean Peso; coins are 1, 5, 10, 100 and 500 Peso. It is advisable to take US Dollar travelers checks or currency as this is more readily exchanged than other currency. Credit cards are accepted at most major hotels, restaurants and shops. Banks are open from 09.00 to 14.00 Monday to Friday and ATMs are easily found.
Chile time is 5 hours slower than GMT.
The electric current in Chile is 220-240 volt. Most wall outlets in Chile take European style plugs that have two round prongs.
The official language in Chile is Spanish. Large number of Chileans also speak an understand English and Germany.
Climate of Chile consist of 7 major climatic subtypes. raginglow desert in the North, alpine tundra and glaciers in the East and southeast, humid subtropical in Easter Island, Oceanic in the south and Mediterranean in central Chile. There are four seasons in most of Chile; Summer (December – February), Autumn (March – May), Winter (June – August) and Spring (September – November).
Chile Food & Drink
Chilean cuisines mainly come from the combination of traditional Spanish cuisine and other European cuisines. Chile cuisines are notable for their variety of flavor and ingredients, mostly well known for Chilean Seafood. Chile is also one of the world largest producers of wine.
Northern Chile is good to visit all year but southern Chile tends to be wet all year round. Winters (June – August) are cold, and even summers are cool and cloudy so pack a light raincoat
Pick pocketing and muggings are common in many cities throughout Chile, particularly around well-known tourist sites, bus stations and areas visited by foreigners. Pay particular attention to your belongings in popular foreign cafes and restaurants where there has been an increase in bag theft.Don’t put any valuables in the storage compartments of buses and coaches - keep them with you at all times.Book a taxi in advance rather than hailing one from the street, especially late at night. Keep in groups and don’t walk alone late at night.There have been a few reports of people being given ‘spiked’ drinks in nightclubs and bars, particularly in the Suecia and Bellavista areas of Santiago. These can leave the victim open to theft or assault.Leave your passport and other valuables in a safe place and carry a photocopy of the details page of your passport with you at all times.