Chile is one of the most remote states from Europe, located in the southwest of South America, stretching out as a long narrow strip of land between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes. This mysterious, distant and isolated country offers its guests a wide range of tourist attractions.
Chile stretches 4,300 km from the northern border to the outskirts of the Strait of Magellan, with a maximum width of only 200 km and a minimum of 80 km. The largest neighbor of the state is Argentina, the border with which runs in the east. The country borders Bolivia in the northeast and Peru in the north. The area of only the continental part of the country is 755 776.4 km², and including the islands – 756 950 km². And if we take into account the part of Antarctica that the state claims, the area of Chile will be 2,006,354 km².
The population of Chile as of 2017 is 17,574,003 people. The capital is the city of Santiago with a population of 5,128,590. Speaking about the mentality of the Chilean nation, it should be recognized that Chileans differ significantly from other Latin Americans. They are not at all characterized by the gaiety, fervor, incendiary of Brazilians or Cubans! People here, as a rule, are introverted, balanced, unhurried, sometimes self-contained and even shy.
- Capital: Santiago
- Area: 756,950 km²
- Population: 17,574,003 (2017)
- Language: Spanish
- Of.site: https://chile.travel/en
The country’s currency is the Chilean peso. On average, the exchange rate against the dollar is five hundred to one, that is, for 1 dollar they give about 500 pesos. However, it should be borne in mind that often Chileans remove zeros for simplicity, and instead of 500 pesos they can say 5, and instead of 1000 – 1. The official language is Spanish, and the main religion in the country is Catholicism.
Chile proudly bears the title of the most developed country on the South American continent, which has made a huge leap forward in its development and living standards over the past twenty years.
Speaking about the economic situation of the country, it is impossible to ignore some of the features of its development. Today Chile is considered the most dynamically developing country in Latin America in terms of economy. It is the only country in the region where social conditions have not deteriorated in recent years, and also the least corrupt country in Latin America.
Chile’s modern economy is undoubtedly determined by such industries as, first of all, wine and copper industry, as well as fishing and fruit export. Chile is the world’s largest exporter of copper, which is mined and smelted by the national enterprise CODELCO. In the north of the country, from Arica to Rancagua, the largest copper deposits are concentrated.
Well, fame about Chilean wines has long been going on outside the country. Chilean wine can be found almost anywhere in the world. Winemaking in the country is experiencing a real flourishing today. This is due in no small part to Chile’s unique climatic conditions, which make it possible to grow magnificent grapes here. And it has been grown here since the time of the Spanish conquistadors, since 1555! You can read more about Chilean wines in the Chilean Cuisine section.
Russians no longer need a visa to Chile. Citizens of the Russian Federation can stay in Chile without a visa for ninety days.
Chilean customs regulations
Chile has rather strict customs regulations, primarily regarding sanitary control. The following items and products are prohibited for import into the country:
- Fruits, seeds, vegetables and animal products that have not been cooked;
- Raw smoked sausages;
- Meat and fish products without canned packaging;
- Firearms, ammunition and explosives;
Wooden products in case of presence of insects in them (must be declared and inspected by employees of the sanitary service).
It should be borne in mind that the sanitary control in Chile is very strict, upon entering the country, all baggage at the airport undergoes a thorough inspection using the latest equipment, and specially trained dogs are used for this. If you try to bring prohibited products into the country, you will be charged a fine of $ 200 or more.
How to get to Chile
It is most reasonable to start your journey from the capital of the country – this is the largest city, and flights there will be much cheaper and more frequent than other cities in Chile.
The easiest and most logical option to fly to Santiago (Arturo Merino Benitez airport) is the flights of one of the European airlines with a connection at its home airport. These are Iberia, Air France and Chilean Lan. The last carrier, however, flies only to Madrid, but thanks to codeshare agreements, you can fly to Madrid with S7, and all this will be issued with one ticket. You can also fly with one stop with Delta and American Airlines via New York. However, due to the small number of airlines on the route, prices are not at all encouraging. Therefore, to save money, you can consider the option of flying through neighboring countries. It can be both cheaper and richer in terms of impressions.
Recently, tourists are increasingly combining a visit to Chile with Argentina and Peru. From Santiago to Buenos Aires (and, accordingly, vice versa), the most convenient way to get there are direct flights of the LAN airline. Today, this airline is considered the undisputed leader in the Latin American aviation market. LAN is famous for its impeccable service and reliable aircraft, but its ticket prices are quite high. The average cost of an economy class air ticket on the Santiago – Buenos Aires – Santiago route is about $ 300. The Argentine airline Aerolineas Argentinas is less popular on this route. From time to time, these airlines arrange sales and promotions, where you can grab tickets for $ 200. The flight only lasts an hour and a half, so it is no surprise that the residents of these two South American capitals are accustomed to fly back and forth on weekends.
You can fly from Santiago to Lima and back for about $ 400, provided you buy a ticket a few months before departure. Immediately before departure, prices can reach $ 700. The journey takes four hours.
In 1808, after the capture of Spain by Napoleon, the control of the metropolis over the colonies weakened, and a movement for independence began in Chile. After the proclamation of the country’s independence, Santiago was declared the capital of the independent republic of Chile. September 18, 1810 is considered the founding date of the independent Republic of Chile and is today a national holiday. A huge role in the struggle for independence belongs to the revolutionary and national hero of Chile, Bernardo O’Higgins. In 1818, the Chilean constitution was adopted, which consolidated the republican form of government.
The further development of Chile until World War II was predetermined by the extraction of minerals – saltpeter and copper. The large availability of minerals has led to significant economic growth in Chile, but also to a strong dependence on neighboring states and even to wars with them. In particular, Great Britain provoked Chile into a war against Peru and Bolivia in order to seize large deposits of saltpeter in their territories. This war, which lasted from 1879 to 1883, went down in Chilean history as the Second Pacific War. As a result of the war, the Peruvian province of Tarapaca and the Bolivian Antofagasta went to Chile, disputes about which do not subside between these countries to this day. The seizure of the nitrate deposits by Chile gave impetus to the rapid development of capitalism, and the penetration of British capital increased.
Talking about the modern period, one cannot pass over in silence such pages of Chilean history as the socialist government of Salvador Allende and the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. The victory of the Popular Unity candidate, the socialist Allende, led to the creation in November 1970 of a government with the participation of representatives of all parties that made up the bloc. The Allende government carried out deep reforms to nationalize copper ore enterprises, limit the activities of the financial oligarchy, and carry out agrarian reform. It was during this period that Chile’s relations with the Soviet Union developed successfully. During the three years of Allende’s rule, the socialists did not manage to bring the country out of the crisis, which the highest military circles of Chile did not fail to take advantage of with the support of the CIA.
On November 11, 1973, a coup took place in the country, as a result of which a military junta came to power, led by the army commander, General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte. Having come to power, the junta suspended the constitution, dissolved the national congress, and banned the activities of political parties and mass organizations. She launched a bloody terror against patriots and socialists, the exact number of those killed in the dungeons of the junta and missing is unknown to this day. Repression, illegal imprisonment and torture of innocent people and political opponents continued throughout the entire period of Pinochet’s rule. But during the 17-year dictatorship of Pinochet, radical market reforms were carried out in the country’s economy, and Chile took the lead in its development. After Pinochet lost the referendum in 1988, Chile is embarking on a democratic path of development.
Since 1990, the broad front of left-wing parties known as the CPD (Spanish: Concertación de Partidos por la Democracia) has consistently won both parliamentary and presidential elections in the country. In 2005, the presidential election was won by CPA candidate Michelle Bachelet, who became the first woman president of Chile. However, in the last elections in 2010, the victory was won by the candidate of the “right” Sebastian Piñera. Thus, for the first time in many years, a candidate from the “right” managed to be elected to the presidency of the country. But his government is not particularly popular with the population, and judging by the forecasts, next year the elections will be won again by the “leftists”.
The ethnic composition is fairly uniform, especially when compared to other countries in South America. More than 70% of Chileans are white. The Indian population, usually mixed with whites, makes up 26% of the population. The ethnic composition of immigrants was and remains very diverse: Spanish, Italians, Germans and Croats predominate. During the colonial period, from 100 to 150 thousand Europeans, mainly Spaniards and Basques, arrived and settled in Chile. At the end of the 19th century, the Chilean government adopted special programs to attract labor from Europe to the country. As a result, we can talk about different waves of immigration to the country.
So, in the 70-90s of the 19th century, about two tens of thousands of Germans arrived in the southern regions of Chile and a German wave of immigration began. The Chilean government stimulated the mass settlement of uninhabited lands in the south of the country by German settlers, believing that the harsh climatic conditions of this region are similar to the climate of the northern regions of Germany, and the seriousness of the German nation will contribute to raising the economy of this zone. As a result, the southern regions of Chile have become the most Europeanized in the country. You can also talk about the Croatian, Arab and Jewish waves of emigration. Representatives of these nationalities determined to some extent the character and face of the nation, contributing to the development and progress in the country.
Weather in Chile
In terms of climate and weather, Chile is a completely unique country. The unusual length of the country (more than 4,000 km from north to south) has determined the presence here of all the climatic zones existing on the planet, with the exception of the tropics, so it is not surprising that climatic conditions between regions are very different. The country is stretched out in a narrow ribbon along the Pacific coast and is geographically divided into five main natural regions: the Big North, the Small North, the Central part, the South and the Far South.
In the north, an arid, desert climate prevails, in the central part it is Mediterranean and continental, and in the extreme south it is cold and humid, with a lot of precipitation and strong winds, especially in the Patagonian pampa. The climate of the Antarctic part of the country is polar, with heavy snowfalls. Easter Island and Juan Fernandez Archipelago (home to the famous Robinson Crusoe Island) have a subtropical climate with pleasant temperatures, moderate humidity and little difference between the seasons.
There are at least seven major climatic subtypes within Chile’s borders. Desert in the north, tundra and glaciers in the southeast, humid subtropics on Easter Island, Mediterranean climate on the central coast, oceanic in the south, and polar in Antarctica.
The seasons are clearly expressed on the territory of the country, all four seasons are present, only in the opposite sequence from the European sequence: summer (December – February), autumn (March – May), winter (June – August) and spring (September – November). the coldest regions of the country are Patagonia in the Far South and Antarctica, and the warmest are Easter Island and the Greater North, where even in winter the temperature does not drop below 18 degrees during the day. Chile’s climate is influenced by the South Pacific Cyclone, the Humboldt Current, the Chilean Coastal Range, and the Andes. The cold Humboldt Current runs along the entire length of the Chilean coast, so the water temperature near the coast rarely exceeds + 16-17 degrees and is not suitable for swimming.
Another distinctive feature of this country is the frequent earthquakes that affect its entire territory. More than half of the country’s land surface is of volcanic origin, and many volcanoes are still seismically active today. The last powerful earthquake that caused a tsunami hit the coast of Chile in February 2010. As a result of this natural disaster, the oldest city of Concepcion and its surroundings was severely damaged, and the tsunami that followed almost immediately caused damage to the coast and the Juan Fernandez archipelago.
Cities and regions
Administratively, the territory of Chile is divided into 15 regions, which in turn are subdivided into numerous provinces and communities. Each of the regions has its own interesting specifics and features, both natural-geographical and cultural-historical.
- 1 Tarapaca – Iquique
- 2 Antofagasta – Antofagasta
- 3 Atacama – Copiapo
- 4 Coquimbo – La Serena
- 5 Valparaiso – Valparaiso
- 6 O’Higgins – Rancagua
- 7 Maule – Talca
- 8 Bio-Bio – Concepcion
- 9 Araucania – Temuco
- 10 Los Rios – Valdivia
- 11 Los Lagos – Puerto Montt
- 12 Aisen – Koyayke
- 13 Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica – Punta Arenas
- 14 Santiago (area) – Santiago (city)
- 15 Arica-i-Parinacota – Arica
Arica and Parinacota (Fifteenth Region)
This region, designated number 15, was created by the Chilean Government relatively recently – in 2007, thus breaking the historical structure of numbering. Bordering Peru to the north and Bolivia to the east, Region 15 covers an area of 16,873 km² and is home to approximately 192,000 people. Traditionally, the economy of this region has been based on the extraction of natural resources, mainly copper, as well as the fishing industry and the production of fishmeal. In the past, the main wealth of this zone was saltpeter.
Geographically, this region of Chile’s Greater North is characterized by a desert landscape. Landscapes and climates vary greatly as you move inland from the coast. The coastal climate is very mild, with average temperatures throughout the year ranging from 20 to 25 degrees. In the highlands and in the desert, there are very sharp fluctuations in day and night temperatures. Precipitation falls here extremely rarely and in small quantities.
Notable cities and / or sights of the region:
- Chungara lake
Tarapaca (First Region)
In Chile’s historical numbering structure, this region ranks number one. In fact, this is the second region of the country from the north, located between the Pacific Ocean and Bolivia. The area of this region of the Great North of Chile is 42,225.8 km², and the population is more than 314 thousand people. The region is characterized by an arid and barren climate and a very narrow coastal zone. The rest of its territory is occupied by high-mountain plateaus and hills. A distinctive feature of this region is the large number of salt marshes and salt lakes. There are also many volcanoes and lagoons and a fairly rich fauna – llamas, guanacos, vicuñas and flamingos are found here in abundance.
- Wasco Salt Flats
- Isluga volcano national park
Antofagasta (Second Region)
It is the third region of Chile’s Greater North, located between the Pacific Ocean and the border with Bolivia and Argentina, and covers an area of 126,049.1 km². The population of this region is approximately 575 thousand people. The relief and geography of the Second Region of Antofagasta have much in common with the First Region of Tarapaca. The region’s economy is based primarily on copper mining, and is home to the country’s largest mining mines, including the world’s largest open pit, Chuquicamata. In addition to copper, this region has many other natural resources such as gold, silver, iron and iodine. Special emphasis is placed on the fishing industry, especially the production of fishmeal. The population of this region is dominated by the descendants of Croatian settlers, so do not be surprised that most of the locals look completely European.
- San Pedro de Atacama
- Atacama Desert
- Moon Valley
- Salt Cordillera
- Death Valley
- Atakama Salt Flats and Lagoons
- Lagoon Miscanti
- Laguna Minyques
- Tatio geysers
- Thermal springs of Puritama
Atacama (Third Region)
This region should not be confused with the Atacama Desert, which is located in the Second Region of Antofagasta. The Third Atacama Region, the last region in the classification of the natural zone of the Great North, is located between the Pacific Ocean and Argentina on an area of 75.452 km² and is a major mining center of the country, whose economy is based on the extraction of copper and silver. It is one of the least populated regions of Chile, with a population of approximately 290,000.
- Pan de Asucar National Park
Coquimbo (Fourth Region)
This region, with an area of 40,579 km², is part of a natural area called the Little North of Chile. The population of the Coquimbo Region is approximately 718 thousand people. The economy of this region is based on agriculture, fishing, mining and tourism.
- La Serena
- Punta Choros Marine Reserve
- Elki Valley
Valparaiso (Fifth Region)
The Fifth Region of Valparaiso is the most important industrial, port, agricultural and tourist region of the country with a population of 1,734,917. The area of this region is 16 396 km², and geographically it is part of the Central Natural Zone of Chile. The capital of the Fifth Region, the city of Valparaiso, which has the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is picturesquely stretched out on the hills along the huge Pacific bay.
In this region, it is also interesting to visit such resort towns as Viña del Mar and Algarrobo, where the house-museum of Pablo Neruda is located in the town of Isla Negra. The Fifth Region includes the two main islands of Chile – the Juan Fernandez archipelago and Easter Island.
- Easter Island
- Juan Fernandez Archipelago
Santiago (Metropolitan Region)
The largest and most developed economic and tourist region in the country, which includes six provinces. Located in the heart of Chile, the Metropolitan Region has been excluded from the established numbering scheme of the country’s regions. Instead of numbers, he was given the initials RM (Region Metropolitana), which in Spanish means the Capital Region. As of 2012, the population of the Capital Region was 6 685 685 people.
The main region of the country covers an area of 15 403 km². The name of this region speaks for itself – here is the capital of the country, the city of Santiago. This is the richest and most developed region of the country in all respects, where large financial capital, international companies, various industrial production, excellent tourist infrastructure, and well-developed agriculture, in particular, winemaking, are concentrated. There are numerous wineries in the Casablanca Valley around Santiago that are sure to be a pleasure to visit. The most famous wineries in this region are Moranda, Indomita, Veramonte and Casas del Bosque. In this region, literally an hour’s drive from Santiago, there are some of the country’s best ski resorts, such as Valle Nevado, El Colorado, Farellones and La Parva. Lovers of nature and mountain landscapes will be interested in a trip to the picturesque Maipo Gorge, not far from Santiago.
O’Higgins (Region Six)
An important mining and agricultural region of the country with a population of 883.368 people and an area of 16 387 km². The development of this region is largely due to its proximity to the Metropolitan Region – the capital of the Sixth Region, the city of Rancagua is located just 96 km from Santiago.
It is interesting that the world famous philanthropist and industrialist Solomon Guggenheim left his mark in Chile. It was he who founded the Bradden Copper Co., a copper mining company in Sewell. and did a lot for the development of the industry of this country. No wonder the Guggenheim is loved and revered in Chile.
The sixth region has long been famous for its winemaking. On the territory of the largest wine-making valley of Colchagua (Valle de Colchagua) there are such famous wineries as Viu Manent, Santa Rita, Cono Sur, Lapostolle. Thermal relaxation is represented here by the two oldest traditional thermal complexes – Termas de Cauquenes and Termas del Flaco. It should be noted that thermal recreation in Chile is very developed; There are a lot of recreational complexes here, and almost every region can boast of miraculous thermal springs with a wide variety of healing waters.
There is also the Reserva Nacional Rio de los Cipreses National Park, where you can see the typical flora and fauna of the Cordillera ecosystem. For outdoor activities, all kinds of water sports and fishing, Lake Rapel, the largest artificial lake in the country, 102 km from Rancagua, is perfect. Here you can rent wooden cabanas houses, this type of recreation is very common among Chileans.
Maule (Seventh Region)
The Seventh Region of Maule is located in the heart of the central zone of Chile, 258 km south of Santiago. The population of this region is 968,336 people, and the territory is 30,269 km². This is, first of all, the richest agricultural region, where apples, pears, plums, peaches, apricots and, of course, grapes are grown.
The Maule Valley is the most important wine-growing region of Chile, and is home to many famous wineries, both traditionally family-run and modern, of the new generation. The wine road, which runs through this valley, attracts many wine lovers here. The most famous wineries of the Maule Valley – Valdivieso, San Pedro, J. Bouchon, Gillmore offer everyone visiting their cellars and vineyards, as well as tasting their wines. The Maule Valley is also the largest asparagus growing region.
- Talcum powder
- Lake Vichuken
Almost on the border with Argentina, there is another interesting natural place in this region – the huge Laguna del Maule, whose bright blue waters abound with trout.
In the vicinity of Linares, there are two of the country’s oldest thermal complexes – Termas de Quinamavida and Termas de Panimavida. Both of these complexes offer their clients pleasant relaxation in the healing thermal waters against the backdrop of the Cordillera, surrounded by forests and gardens. Affordable prices, quality service and beautiful nature – all this characterizes both of these thermal complexes. More information on their rates and services can be found here.
Bio-Bio (Eighth Region)
This is the second most important economic and demographic region of the country. The eighth region covers an area of 37,068.7 km² and is home to approximately 1,971,998 people. Many important ports of the country are also concentrated here, the main of which is the military port of Talcahuano. This region opens up a list of regions that make up a natural region called the South of Chile.
- Thermal Spa Termas de Chillan
Araucania (Ninth Region)
This region of southern Chile is known primarily as the birthplace of the indigenous Indian population of the Mapuche country. The ninth region covers an area of 31.843 km ², and in its territory is home to about 970 thousand people.
- Villarrica National Park
- El Cagni Nature Reserve
Los Rios (Fourteenth Region)
This region violates the historical structure of the administrative numbering of Chile, and the reason for this is that it recently separated from the Tenth Los Lagos Region. Fourteenth Region Los Rios gets its name from the large number of rivers flowing through its territory. The area of the Rivers Region is 18 429 km², and about 380 thousand people live on its territory. The economy of this region of the South of Chile is represented mainly by the timber industry and cattle breeding.
Los Lagos (Region Ten)
It is easy to guess that this region got its name from a considerable number of local lakes. And, indeed, there is more water here than land. On the territory of the Chilean Lake District there are 12 large lakes and several more small ones. The lakes are of glacial-tectonic origin and are distinguished by their extraordinary beauty and a varied palette of colors – dark blue, turquoise, emerald reservoirs surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, connected by rivers. The extraordinary natural beauty of this region has contributed to its prosperity and tourism development.
Today it is one of the most developed regions of the country in terms of tourism and the most popular tourist destination among Chileans and foreign tourists. The Lake District has the fame of the most Europeanized region of the country, the appearance of which was greatly influenced by German colonists. In the middle of the 19th century, the Chilean government allocated considerable funds for the development of this region. The mass settlement of these desert lands by German settlers began, who created cities here in a typical German architectural style and raised the economy of this region. Today, many descendants of German settlers live in this region, so do not be surprised to see typically Aryan faces on the streets.
The area of the Region of Lakes is impressive in its size, it is 48,585 km², and about 836 thousand people live on its territory. The economy of the lake region is represented mainly by fishing and agriculture. Geographically, the region consists of four provinces – Chiloe, Llanquihue, Osorno and Palena.
- Puerto Montt
- Puyehue Thermal Spa
- Puerto Varas
- Puerto Oktay
- Chiloe Island
- Penguin park
Aysen (Eleventh Region)
This region opens up the Patagonia geographic zone of the Far South of Chile. Located in upper Patagonia, the Aysen region covers an area of 108,494.4 km², and is home to no more than 100 thousand people. It turns out that this is the least populated region of the country. Administratively, this region is divided into five communes – Aisen, Kapitan Prat, Koyaike and General Carrera. The capital of the region is the city of Coyayque, the second most important city is Puerto Aisen.
There are several versions about the origin of the name of this region. According to the most common of them, Aisen is translated from English as “the end of the ice” (iceend), and Captain Fitz Roy gave this name to the local lands during his expedition. Other theories attribute the origin of this name to local Native American dialects, which in some cases meant curved fjords, and in others, inland fjords.
The legendary Carretera Austral, or Antarctic Road, Chile’s most scenic landscape road, runs through the territory of the Eleventh Region. 1240 kilometers of this road connects Puerto Montt with Villa O’Higgins in the far south of the region, passing forests, canals, fjords, colorful lagoons and lakes, rivers, waterfalls and glaciers. Carretera Austral was built relatively recently, about thirty years ago, and before that, during the winter, the population of the Aisen region was completely isolated from the rest of Chile. In the summer, however, transportation was carried out by water. It is not surprising that isolation from the outside world is one of the features of local life.
Due to its glacial origin, the rugged relief of this region is filled with hills, canyons, meadows against the background of snow-capped mountains, representing a kind of mix of Alpine, Altai and Siberian landscapes. The climate in the area is harsh and inhospitable, characterized by cold and long snowy winters, rainy autumn with strong winds and short mild summers. On the coast, the climate is oceanic, and in the depths it is cold steppe.
Due to its isolation, the Aisen Region cannot be called an economically developed region of the country, the population is mainly engaged in cattle breeding and forestry. Interestingly, the way of life and traditions of local residents are very close to the way of life of the Argentine gauchos, which is quite understandable – the border with Argentina is just a stone’s throw away, this closeness has caused such a historical similarity. Residents of border areas constantly travel back and forth for shopping, have relatives here and there, which naturally contributes to the similarity in their lifestyle, habits and traditions. This is the peculiarity of the lifestyle of the population of this region.
In recent years, the Chilean government has been betting on the development of the tourism potential of this region, but today Aysen is still completely untouched in terms of tourism, and its tourist infrastructure is, if not in its infancy, then certainly in a napkin state. We can say that this most beautiful natural region of Chile is only taking the first steps in the tourist direction, but from this it does not at all lose its attractiveness and pristine charm. It is quite possible that in a few years tourism will be put on stream here, which will inevitably affect the pristine nature of the region.
To get to this region from Santiago, you must first fly to the city of Balmaceda, and then take a bus or taxi to the city of Coyayque (65 km), from where all routes along this wonderful land begin.
A regular fare on the Santiago-Balmaceda-Santiago route costs about $ 150. Travel time is a little over two hours.
- Puerto Aisen
- Lagoon San Rafael
- Marble caves
- Kyulat National Park
- President Ibanez Bridge
Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica (Region Twelfth)
Located in the extreme south of the country, the Twelfth Region comprises 4 provinces and 11 communes. Consists of two areas – continental and Antarctica. The main part of the region’s population lives in the continental zone, and its area is 132,033.5 km². The territory of Antarctica with an area of 1,250,257.6 km² is separated from the mainland by the Drake Passage. Thus, the total territory of the Twelfth Region, taking into account the area of the Antarctic commune, is 1,382,291.1 km², and the population is slightly more than 158 thousand people (2010). It is one of the least populated regions of the country due to its harsh climatic conditions. The Magallanes region consists of four provinces: Antarctica, Magallanes, Tierra del Fuego and Ultima Esperanza. The population of the region is mainly engaged in cattle breeding, especially sheep breeding and fishing. The oil and gas industry is also developing here, due to the discovery of oil and gas fields in the forties on the territory of Tierra del Fuego.
The history of these lands is very interesting and instructive. Magellan discovered these places in 1520, when his expedition was trying to find an outlet to the Pacific Ocean from the Atlantic. Initially, he christened it the Strait of All Saints, and the lands around the strait named the Patagonian land in honor of the local peoples, who, by their size, reminded him of the mythical giant Patagon. Hence the common name of these places – Patagonia. The Strait of Magellan is shaped like the Latin letter S, and separates the Brunswick Peninsula, where the capital of the Punta Arenas region is located, from the island of Tierra del Fuego, which is so close to the mainland that its outline can be seen from the Punta Arenas embankment. The merits of Magellan in the history and development of this region are so great that it is not at all surprising that the locals immensely respect the great navigator. They even call themselves not Chileans, but Magellans, in honor of Magellan. Colonization of these lands really began quite late, in 1843, when President Manuel Bulnes ordered an expedition from Ankuda (Chiloe Island) to be sent to explore these remote territories. This is how the first settlement appeared – Fort Bulnes. Later, sheep were brought here from Chiloe Island and the Falkland Islands, which gave impetus to the development of sheep breeding. At the end of the last century, active colonization of these places began, a huge amount of land was distributed, large farms were created. But if German settlers mainly came to the Lakes Region, Croats and British prevailed here. The most famous and wealthy settlers of these places are the Brown, Menendez and Nogueira families.
Punta Arenas is still adorned with the magnificent palaces of these families. The reverse side of the coin of this policy was the almost complete extermination of the local tribes of the Yagans and Selknam, the seizure of their lands by settlers and, as a result, the fabulous enrichment of the colonists.
- Punta Arenas
- Magdalena Island
- Otway Bay Penguin
- Puerto Natales
- Torres del Paine National Park
- Milodon’s cave
Chilean Antarctica is a province in the Twelfth Region. In turn, it consists of two communes – Cabo de Hornos and Antarctica. The administrative center of the Chilean Antarctic is the city of Puerto Williams, which rivals Argentine Ushuaia for the title of the southernmost city in the world. The harsh climatic conditions prevent the mass settlement of these lands, for example, the population of Chilean Antarctica is only 2392 people. From here, the closest is to get to Antarctica.
Despite the fact that Antarctica is the most severe climatic region of the Earth, recently this continent has become the object of close attention of tourists from all over the world. And this is not at all surprising, because sophisticated travelers have already explored all the tourist corners of the Earth, and the poles still remain white spots on the map.
The ideal time to travel to Antarctica is December – January, when there are most clear days here. Currently, the Antarctic territory is divided between 7 countries: Great Britain, France, Norway, New Zealand, Australia, Argentina and Chile, but does not belong to any state. Only scientific activities are allowed on its territory.
Cruise ships depart from Punta Arenas to Antarctica, but the cost of such cruises is astronomical. A more economical alternative could be commercial flights between November and April. There is a choice of both one-day and two-day similar tours. Typically, the planes land at the Frey Meteoric Base, which is located next to the Russian Bellingshausen base. Flights and stay at the station are provided by the Chilean airline DAP. The cost of such flights is quite high – from 3 to 4 thousand dollars, but in comparison with expensive cruises, this option will in any case be more economical. During the one-day air tour, travelers usually visit the island of King George (Isla ReyJorge), the peculiar capital of the South Pole, where the scientific station of President Frey is located, as well as the village of Villa Las Estrellas with a population of 120 people in summer and 80 people in winter.
Antarctica has a huge field of activity for curious and active travelers: here you can take a tour of the icy Antarctic fields, fly by helicopter over glaciers, cruise along the coast, plying between giant icebergs, and enjoy the marine fauna of the generous Antarctic waters, which provide shelter to populations of blue whales. , elephant seals, seals, fur seals and emperor penguins.
What to see in Chile
A visit to Chile begins, as a rule, from the capital. Therefore, you can read about the sights of Santiago and other places worth visiting in the city in a separate article. The rest of the country’s interesting places are very scattered. Below you will find links to various attractions in Chile, from near the equator to almost Antarctica.
Chile National Parks
Chile is famous for its pristine nature and boasts unique natural parks in a wide variety of geographic areas. This is the main property of the country, which is carefully protected and supported by the state. In total, there are 33 natural parks in Chile, the most famous of which are recognized as follows:
- Torres del Paine National Park
- Laguna San Rafael National Park
- Rapa Nui National Park (Easter Island)
- Juan Fernandez Archipelago National Park
- Villarrica National Park
- Vicente Perez Rosales National Park
- Chiloe National Park
- Kyulat National Park
- Pan de Asucar National Park
- Lauka National Park (Chungara Lake)
- Isluga volcano national park
The Atacama Desert is not included in the classification of national parks in the country and stands alone in this list.
- Morro de Arica hill
- Cathedral of San Marcos
- Chungara lake
- Bakedano street
- Spanish Center
- Cavancha Beach
- Black Easter holiday
- Peak oasis
- Wasco Salt Flats
San Pedro de Atacama
- Karakoles street
- Moon Valley
- Salt Cordillera
- Death Valley
- Atakama Salt Flats with lagoons
- Altiplano plateau
- Lagoon Miscanti
- Laguna Minyques
- Tatio geysers
- Thermal springs of Puritama
- Punta Choros Marine Reserve
- Elki Valley
- The abandoned city of Sewell
- Rapel lake
- Lake Vichuken
- Thermal Spa Termas de Chillan
- El Cagni Nature Reserve
- Valdivian Night Water Festival
- River bazaar
- Beer restaurant Kunstman
- Valdivia Botanical Garden
- Puyehue Thermal Spa
- Osorno volcano
Ancud (Chiloe Island)
- Penguin park
- Simpson River National Park
- Marble caves
- President Ibanez Bridge
- Monument to Magellan
- Magdalena Island Reserve
- Otway Bay Penguin
- Milodon’s cave
What to do in Chile
Enotourism (wine tourism)
This is a new direction in tourism, the purpose of which is to get acquainted with the culture and history of the regions through the study of winemaking traditions. In recent years, enotourism has become extremely popular in Chile, joining the ranks of its adherents both among Chileans themselves and among foreign visitors.
Check out the links below for some of the best wineries in Chile:
- Winery San Pedro
- Winery Undurraga
- Winery Tamaya
- Almaviva winery
- Winery Miguel Torres
- Winery William Febvre
- Indomita Winery
- Moranda winery
- Concha and Toro winery
March is a special month in Chile when the whole country walks around the Vendimia harvest festivals. Such festivities are held in different wine regions of the country, as a rule, in the first half of March. In the central area, very interesting and colorful Vendimias take place in the cities of San Fernando, Santa Cruz and Pirque. Gastronomic pleasures and wine tastings at such festivals are usually accompanied by musical performances, the election of a Queen from among local girls, national cueca dance competitions, rodeos, and demonstrations of local huaso cowboy outfits. During the festival of Vendimia, it is customary to crush grapes in barrels. The barrels are freely available for everyone, so you can come and press for your pleasure.
Thermal relaxation in Chile
It is not surprising that thermal relaxation is very popular in Chile, because the country is rich in springs with a variety of characteristics and healing properties. Thermal complexes are scattered throughout the country, each region boasting its own unique thermal water. From the thermal complexes closest to Santiago, the following can be recommended:
- Termas de Jahuel;
- Termas de Corazon;
- Termas de Cauquenes.
The following thermal resorts are very popular from other regions of the country:
- Termas de Puyeue in Los Lagoz Region
- Termas de Chillan in the Biobio Region
- Termas de Panimavida in the Maule Region
- Termas de Quinamavida in the Maule Region
Ski resorts Chile
Alpine skiing began to develop in Chile relatively recently, at the beginning of the 20th century. Today, fans of this winter sport come to Chile to enjoy the beautiful slopes, trails and relax among the snow-white plains of the Andes. The ski season in Chile begins in June and ends at the end of September, while in the south of the country it ends in mid or late October.
The best ski resorts in the Central Zone are the following (follow the links for a lot of detailed information):
- La Parva
- El Colorado / Farellones
- Valle Nevado
- Termas de Chillan
Here you will find a well-developed tourist infrastructure, hotels for every taste and budget, modern lifts, long runs, as well as ski equipment rental. The ski season in Chile is quite short, usually from mid-June to late August. But, nevertheless, this is one of the few places on the Latin American continent where it generally snows and you can ski, therefore it is in great demand, especially among neighbors from hot Brazil. The resorts of Portillo, La Parva, El Colrado and Valle Nevado are an hour’s drive from Santiago and you can come here either on your own in a rented car or by public transport. The main advantage of these resorts is that if the weather is good, you can go skiing and sunbathe on the Pacific coast in one day.
There are also other resorts in Central Chile, but less equipped, there are fewer trails and lifts.
- Chapa Verde
Resorts outside central Chile, but also interesting and popular. However, the number of difficult tracks (red and black) here is much less than in the resorts of the central part of the country. This is offset by excellent off-piste opportunities, and is complemented by the possibility of swimming in the thermal waters in the open air.
- El Fraile
- Cerro Mirador
Getting around the country
Public transport in Chile is well developed and is represented by airplanes, buses, trains and ferries.
The main mode of travel in such an extended country is, of course, air. It makes no sense to travel by car or bus from Santiago to the far north or south, it will be a waste of time. Moreover, the policy of the LAN airline to promote domestic tourism makes flights between cities in the country relatively inexpensive. If you buy tickets in advance on the website of this airline, it is possible to find very attractive offers for various tourist destinations within the country. For comparison, we present the average cost of tickets for the most popular domestic routes (round trip):
- Santiago – Calama: $ 150
- Santiago – La Serena: $ 60
- Santiago – Temuco: $ 90
- Santiago – Puerto Montt: $ 120
- Santiago – Balmaceda: $ 140
- Santiago – Punta Arenas: $ 170
- Santiago – Iquique: $ 160
- Santiago – Easter Island: $ 400
Basically, all flights are carried out through the Chilean capital Santiago. If you need to get from Calama, say, to Arica, you will first have to return to Santiago and from there again fly north – this is an obvious inconvenience.
In the southern direction, the situation is different. Here you can conveniently combine visiting several cities at once. For example, go from Santiago to Puerto Montt, spend a few days there, and then go from there to Balmaceda or Punta Arenas. Prices for such domestic flights are quite low, from $ 50 to $ 120, of course, subject to early purchase.
Railway transport in the country is rather poorly developed. During the time of Pinochet, many railways fell into disrepair. It makes sense to use trains only on a small section from Santiago to Talca and Chillan.
The bus service between the cities of the country is excellently developed. The bus is the most popular form of transport in the country. The most reliable and popular bus company is Turbus. The Turbus bus network covers almost the entire territory of the country.
It makes sense to use the bus service when traveling over relatively short distances. Bus routes from Santiago to nearby cities such as Valparaiso, La Serena, Chillán, Concepcion are very popular. The buses are comfortable and economical. For example, from Santiago to La Serena and back, you can take a bus for as little as 16 thousand pesos, however, one way trip will take more than six hours.
There are different types of buses and seats, the most popular of which are the semi-reclining semicama and the fully reclining cama.
The culture of Chile is a fusion of elements of the Spanish culture and the culture of the indigenous population of the country, to which elements of the cultures of various emigrants – Germans, Croats, British, Arabs and Jews – were added at one time. The result is a kind of mix in the best traditions of multiculturalism.
In the architectural appearance of most Chilean cities in the central regions, the Spanish colonial style clearly predominates, but there are also deviations from these norms. Thus, in Valparaiso, there is a clear influence of English architecture, and in the Region of Lakes – the German half-timbered style.
Chile is proud of two Nobel laureates of literature – Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral. There are three Pablo Neruda houses-museums in the country – in Santiago, Valparaiso and the town of Izla Negra near the Algarrobo resort, a visit to which can be an interesting addition to the cultural program in Chile.
Chile’s national dance cueca is interesting, rooted in Spanish, Peruvian and African cultures. This dance came to Chile from neighboring Peru in the middle of the 19th century and, having transformed, became the official folk dance of the country. Cueca is a pair dance in which a man and a woman participate. The dancers hold a white scarf in their right hand and, moving in a circle, make turns, half-turns, interrupted by dance steps, denoting courtship.
The Chilean rodeo, which has been practiced in the country for 400 years, is also significant in terms of cultural traditions. The Chilean rodeo rules are very different from the rodeo rules adopted in other countries of America. The purpose of the competition is that two riders (huaso) must stop a young bull without any adaptations, only pressing it down with the body of the horse. Depending on where in the body of the bull it will be pressed, the team is awarded points. The arena’s barrier is shaped like a crescent moon, called Medialuna in Spanish, and is often painted in the colors of the Chilean flag. The traditional riders’ outfit – a patterned chamanto cape and a felt or straw hat – looks very colorful.
Due to the prevailing historical conditions in Chile, a wide variety of gastronomic directions is presented, formed under the influence of emigrants from different countries of the world who brought here their culinary recipes and traditions. This is not to say that Chilean cuisine is distinguished by special delicacies, rather it is more characterized by simplicity and peasant abundance, but still, here you can discover something new in the gastronomic plan.
Speaking about Chilean gastronomy, it should be understood that due to its unusual length, the cuisine of different regions differs significantly from each other. The country’s topographic diversity is directly reflected in its gastronomy. Thus, in the regions of the Greater North, the culinary traditions of the Altiplano cuisine are clearly expressed. Quinoa, a popular high-altitude cereal rich in protein, alpaca and llama meat, and chirimoya and Turkish delight are widespread here.
The cuisine of the central region of Chile is detailed in a travel guide to Santiago.
In the regions of the South of the country, especially in Patagonia, traditionally signature dishes are lamb roasted whole on a spit (Corderoal Palo) and delicious crabs (centolla), which are rich in the waters of the Strait of Magellan. Popular in Patagonia is homemade jams made from the wild berries calafate, the tart, sour little berries that grow throughout its forests.
In the Lakes Region, be sure to try the local salmon, especially with the shrimp and krill bechamel sauce, and the local merluza austral.
The main cuisine of this region has developed under the influence of German gastronomic traditions and is famous for all kinds of sausages, pork sausages, sauerkraut rolls and great homemade pies with fruit and kuchen berries.
On Easter Island and Chiloe Island, curanto is a popular dish. Moreover, on each island it is prepared differently: on Easter Island, curanto is cooked in the ground over coals and consists of meat, fish, chicken, sweet potato and vegetables wrapped in banana leaves. The cooking process itself is a picturesque sight – the colorful Rapanui, practically without clothes, first bury the ingredients of the curanto in the ground, and then reveal the banana leaves, rake the ash and take out the prepared food. The whole process of preparing curanto can take several hours.
Chilots sacredly honor the ancient culinary recipes of their ancestors. So, the curanto in Chiloe is a hot, thick dish of meat, potatoes, cereals, fish, smoked meats, which is cooked here on hot stones in a depression dug in the ground. The ingredients are laid out in layers and saturated with juices and odors during the cooking process.
Yoko (Lloco) is a whole ritual of cooking fresh pork in cauldrons over an open fire: fried meat, pork rinds and blood sausages are washed down here with chicha, an alcoholic drink that was prepared by the Indians. The raw materials for chichi, as well as the technologies for its preparation, are different in different regions of South America: it is prepared from rice, corn, yucca juice – in Chiloe it is made from apple juice. Chiloe Island is also traditionally famous for all kinds of potato dishes.
The Juan Fernandez archipelago is known for its delicious lobsters, which are found in abundance along its shores.
Special attention should be paid to the peculiar cuisine of the indigenous Mapuche population in Araucania, which is distinguished by the use of acorns, all kinds of cereals and merken spices for food.
Chilean wine can be found almost anywhere in the world. Winemaking in the country is experiencing a real flourishing today. This is due in no small part to Chile’s unique climatic conditions, which make it possible to grow magnificent grapes here. And it has been grown here since the time of the Spanish conquistadors, since 1555! The grapevine was brought here directly in barrels by the Jesuits from Spain. It was they who realized that there are extremely favorable climatic conditions for the development of winemaking. At the end of the 19th century, there was a real breakthrough in Chilean winemaking, and this was facilitated by the “misfortune of others” – at this time an epidemic of phyloxera broke out in France, devastating French vineyards. Fortunately, she did not touch Chile, thanks to its remoteness and geographical isolation.
In the last twenty years, there has been a real boom in Chilean winemaking, which has become a serious competitor to European wines in terms of price and quality. Mass production of truly high quality wines has begun! To some extent, this became possible thanks to the competent economic policy of the state and the hard work of local winemakers. Chile has several wine-growing valleys that are home to a huge number of high-quality wineries. The most famous valleys are Colchagua, Casablanca, Maipo, Curico, Maule and Aconcagua. All of them are located in the central part of Chile, as there are the most favorable climatic conditions for viticulture. A visit to one or two wineries with wine tasting is quite possible to diversify the tourist program in the same Santiago.
Shopping in Chile
Speaking about Chilean souvenirs, we can safely say that the most typical souvenir from Chile will be the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli and jewelry made from it. This stone is considered a symbol and a national treasure of Chile, since lapis lazuli deposits are found only in two countries of the world – Chile and Afghanistan. At craft fairs and jewelry stores, you can find original jewelry made from this stone in a silver setting, as well as all kinds of figurines, the most popular of which are penguins. Copper products – wall plates, ashtrays, figurines, caskets, as well as alpaca and llama woolen products – can also be a good gift from Chile. In the southern regions, wood products are in great demand, on Easter Island – wooden carvings, especially the Manutara bird and its eggs, as well as products from sea shells and volcanic stone.
An excellent gift from Chile, no doubt, will be the famous Chilean wine, the fame of which has long been thundering around the world, and pisco.
Communication in Chile
In such a distant country as Chile, communication issues will naturally concern any tourist. There are no difficulties with mobile communications and Internet access in the country. Most hotels have free Wi-Fi.
The main cellular operators in Chile are Claro, Entel, Movistar. For local calls within Chile, we recommend purchasing a card from one of these operators; their services will be much cheaper than roaming provided by Russian operators – MTS, Beeline and MegaFon.
The international dialing code of Chile is 56. In order to call from Moscow to Chile, you need to dial 8 – 10 (or simply “+” instead of this combination, if we are talking about a mobile phone) – 56 – area code and phone number, and to, while in Chile, to call from a mobile phone to Russia, you need to dial 00 7, area code and phone number.
Safety in Chile
In terms of security, Chile is considered the quietest country in the entire South American continent. People here are extremely law-abiding and are distinguished by their benevolence and willingness to help guests of their country, especially, this is typical for the Chilean province. Chile’s crime and corruption rates are the lowest in Latin America.
But nevertheless, unpleasant incidents sometimes happen in this calm country, so you should not completely relax, but it is advisable to observe certain precautions:
- In restaurants and cafes, it is not possible to leave bags unattended, do not hang them on the back of a chair, it is best to keep the bag on your lap under the table.
- In crowded places, especially in downtown Santiago, keep a close eye on bags, photographic equipment and wallets.
- Don’t change money on the street, even if they offer a better rate.
- On some streets of Santiago and Valparaiso, there are homeless people, beggars and vagabonds. And although they are not particularly aggressive, it is still better to stay away from them.
- Scourge of Valparaiso – a huge number of stray dogs, which it would be wise to avoid.
As for Easter Island, the concept of security simply does not exist there – a completely relaxed, peaceful atmosphere reigns on the island and you can safely walk everywhere even all night long. The same applies to tourist centers such as San Pedro de Atacama, Puerto Varas, Puerto Natales, Coyayque and Frutillar. In general, the country disposes to a calm, safe rest.
Accommodation in Chile
Below are links to pages with hotels from popular tourist cities in Chile, where you can choose your hotel according to various parameters.