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Chilean AltiplanoChilean Altiplano
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Chile is a long and narrow country in South America. It measures some 4,200 kilometers from north to south, but is never more than 180 km at its widest. It is bordered by Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage to the far south. It is just one of two countries in South America - the other being Ecuador - that does not share a border with Brazil.

The Pacific Ocean forms a 5,000-km-long coastline to the west of the country. Due to the great difference in latitude, Chile is a country where you can experience the hottest, driest deserts as well as frigid fjords and snop-capped mountains. In between, you can find a Mediterranean climate in the center, and a temperate climate to the south.

According to the 17th century Spanish chronicler Diego de Rosales, the name Chile may have been derived from the name of a Pichunche tribal chief called Tili, who ruled the area during the Incan conquest of the 15th century. That is just one of several theories as to how the country got its name.

With an urban area population of 5.6 million people, Santiago de Chile is the largest city as well as capital of Chile. Other notable cities include Concepción, Valparaíso, Antofagasta and Punta Arenas.

Parinacota Volcano, ChileParinacota Volcano, Chile
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Fast Facts about Chile

  • Official Name: Republic of Chile
  • Capital: Santiago (6,300,000, metropolitan area)
  • Population of Chile: 15,980,912
  • Languages: Spanish
  • Currency: Chilean peso (CLP)
  • Religions: Roman Catholic (89%), Protestant (11%), others
  • Size: 756,950 sq km (292,261 sq miles)
  • Region: South America

Santiago, ChileSantiago de Chile
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authorshipvictor san martin
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Planning your trip to Chile

By Plane

The main international airport for Chile is the Santiago Airport (, also known as Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL). The national flag carrier is LAN Airlines.

Preparing Money for your trip to Chile

The currency used in Chile is the Chilean Peso (CLP).

Planning your travel within Chile

Chile has a good public bus system enabling you to explore the country town to town. The main bus companies are Turbus ( and Pullman (

You can - if you are able to spend the money - take domestic flights to explore the country. Chile has good airport infrastructure (although at time of writing, May 2010, it may have been disrupted by the 2010 Earthquake) that allows you to take domestic flights to the many major cities in the country. The major domestic airlines are LAN, Sky Airline, Aerolineas del Sur and Principal Airlines.

Playa Concón in Viña del Mar, ChilePlaya Concón in Viña del Mar, Chile
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authorshipG. Küppers
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Cities in Chile

Towns in Chile

World Heritage Sites in Chile

Chile ratified the World Heritage Convention on 20 February, 1999. At time of writing, I have documented the five World Heritage Sites of Chile, all of which are in the Cultural category, and one on the List of World Heritage in Danger. Chile has also submitted another 18 sites presently on the World Heritage Tentative List. Chile served on the World Heritage Committee for one term, in 2003-2007. Sites in Chile on the World Heritage Tentative List:
  1. Juan Fernández Archipielago National Park (1994)
  2. Torres del Paine and Bernardo O'Higgins National Parks, Region of Magallanes (1994)
  3. Churches of the Altiplano (1998)
  4. Archaeological sites of the Chinchorro culture (1998)
  5. Baquedano Street (1998)
  6. San Pedro de Atacama (1998)
  7. Ayquina and Toconce (1998)
  8. Cerro el Plomo high shrine (1998)
  9. La Moneda Palace (1998)
  10. San Francisco Church and Convent (1998)
  11. Houses of the hacienda San José del Carmen el Huique (1998)
  12. Malleco Viaduct (1998)
  13. Locomotive depot of the Temuco Railroad Station (1998)
  14. The Defensive Complex of Valdivia (1998)
  15. Rupestrian art of the Patagonia (1998)
  16. Fell and Pali Aike Caves (1998)
  17. Qhapaq Ñan - Main Andean Road (2004)
  18. Monte Verde Archaeological Site (2004)

Places of Interest in Chile

  1. Atacama Desert: The driest desert in the world.
  2. Chiloé Island: The second largest island in Chile.
  3. Cristo Redentor Statue: Gigantic statue of Christ the Redeemer near the border pass between Chile and Argentina.
  4. Easter Island: A remote Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean that is administered as a special territory of Chile.
  5. Licancabur Volcano: A highly symmetrical stratovolcano between Chile and Bolivia.
  6. Nevado Ojos del Salado: The highest peak in Chile.
  7. San Alfonso del Mar: World's biggest swimming pool.
  8. Torres del Paine National Park: National park with breathtaking landscape and iconic mountains.
  9. Tierra del Fuego: Archipelago shared between Argentina and Chile.

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