Chile is characterized by its narrow territory with a maximum width of 440 km. It lies between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean. The mountain ranges near the Pacific Ocean reflect the historical seismic and volcanic activity that persists in Chile till nowadays, known as the "Pacific Ring of Fire".
It presents a border area to the north with Peru and Bolivia and to the east with Argentina . To the west, its territory is delimited by the Pacific Ocean, where it has a large port infrastructure that facilitates the commercial and industrial transportation.
The recognized Easter Island and the Juan Fernandez group of islands, represent a historic and cultural attraction of the country.
The long and narrow extension of the Chilean territory, cause huge diversity in its national climate. The Andes mountains regulate the wind flows from the east, keeping the temperature average in the region.
To the north, the land is dry and the climate is warm with few rainfalls. Its average temperature is 21 °C during the year.
In the central area there is a temperate climate with a clearly differenced 4 seasons . The winters are cold and wet and summers are hot. The average temperature during the year is 15 °C, except at the top of the Andes where the snow keeps at freezing temperatures.
The southern Chile has a cold and rainy weather, with a tendency of polar climate towards the Antarctic territory. The sub-zero temperatures and snow storms are prevalent throughout the year.
The Chilean coasts and border islands, have a maritime temperate climate. There are characterized by a subtropical climate, with high temperatures in summer that fall in winter.
Due to the extreme climate in many parts of the country, the Chilean biodiversity varies depending the geographical areas. The Andes Condor lives along the mountain range and it is a national symbol, reflected in the national coat.
To the north of the territory, the hot desert climate disadvantages the development of ecosystems in the area. There can be seen different species of cacti that are characteristic of the region.
In the Chilean Altiplano, there are more vegetation areas, and wildlife species such as the guanaco (a relative of the camel), the llamas and flamingos in the nearby ponds and lakes.
The vegetation becomes more abundant toward the central valleys, promoting a natural habitat for different animal species like the puma (main predator), colocolo, pudu (a relative of the deer), among others.
In the south, it can be appreciated the charm of the Chilean Patagonia and a great biodiversity of parks, reserves, lakes, volcanoes, rivers, and other extreme landscapes that delight those who have the privilege to visit them. Finally, the Antarctic territory shows few vegetation with a largely surface covered by ice that escapes from a conventional sightseeing.
The replacement of native forests by pine and eucalyptus plantations for commercial purposes, besides the coal plants, the extreme climate and urbanization, are a major threat to the Chilean ecosystem. However, 5 World Biosphere Reserves declared by UNESCO in Chile, show the national concern to protect the natural environment.
The Chilean territory was discovered in 1520, when the Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan found (under the instructions of King Carlos I of Spain) the strait that connects the Atlantic with the Pacific Ocean, at the south of the American continent.
Populated from 1000 BC, the current Chile was inhabited by aboriginal Americans. In 1540, a Spanish initiative by Pedro de Valdivia, attempted to colonize the territory, begining the period of Conquest.
Valdivia entered by the Atacama desert, defeating all indigenous resistance and founded the city of Santiago in 1541. Once recognized the Spanish Conquest, the period of consolidation last two centuries due to the strong resistance of the Mapuche.
After the Conquest, it began a long period to consolidate the Spanish domination in the territory, that lasted more than two centuries due to the strong resistence of the Mapuches.
The independence of Chile was promoted by the military leader Bernardo O'Higgins, who was part of the Andes Army led by José de San Martín. This army of 4.000 men, crossed the Andes and defeated the Spanish troops at the Battle of Chacabuco, in February 1817. In February 1818, O'Higgins formally declared the independence of Chile.
After several processes of imperialist, democratic and authoritarian transition, Chile has managed to establish a strong democratic system at the present, with the figure of a woman president Michelle Bachelet. The openness to foreign trade and the correct state policies adopted, have strengthened the country profile, giving the example of economic growth with social justice in Latin America.
People and society
After the neoliberal system adopted by Chile since the end of the dictatorship, the country is experiencing a period of sustained growth and economic stability. However, there is a large income gap in the middle class, which creates a large social gap in the country.
The official language is Spanish (Castilian), but there are languages spoken by the mapudungún by nearly 400.000 people, and other languages spoken by some indigenous minorities.
Cultural customs can vary according to the geographic area of the country. North habits reflect the indigenous and Spanish influence. Some highlights are the "Diabladas" and the "Tirana Festival". The central zone is characterized by an urban lifestyle, which has influenced people's behavior. Chileans are hospitable and give good treat to foreigners, making them to feel like "at home". The 70% of the population is declared as a Catholic believer.
The gastronomy offers a typical Spanish cuisine, with influence of other European regions. Potatoes, tomatoes, corn and meat are the main option. The tea (English tradition) is high consumed and coastal sea food is very common.
Chilean wines are worldwide recognized for its excellent quality, especially the flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot wines. Pisco is very common in alcohol beverage consumption.
The most popular sport is soccer. However, tennis has gained importance in recent years due to the participation of world top 10 Chilean tennis players as Marcelo Rios, who reached the number 1 in the world some years ago.
Chile is one of Latin America's countries that has suffered more intensely the years of dictatorship. The genocide by the ex-dictator A. Pinochet, left serious after-effects in Chilean society till nowadays.
Actually, the Chilean political system is based on a strong republican democracy, where the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches accumulate all the government responsibilities. The president has influences over the Executive and Legislative branches, confering powers of great importance to this character.
The historic Chilean political parties were banned during the military regime. The subsequent reorganization of the different ideologies, were forced to build political coalitions:
· Alianza por Chile, is a right coalition.
· Concentración de Partidos por la Democracia, a coalition of center-left parties known as simply as Concertación.
· Juntos Podemos Más, various left groups that did not belong to the Concentración and did not have parliamentary representation.
On March 11th of 2006, Michelle Bachelet assumed as president, with a mandate until March 11th of 2010. Belonging to the "Concentración de Partidos por la Democracia” party, M. Bachelet is seen as the symbol of the end of the Chilean transition to democracy. While Chile has a neo-liberal position, the president seeks to build economic development with social justice.
Chile shows a strong economy, based on opened international markets and trade. Its excellent external relations policy, has based its efforts to liberalize trade in goods and services globally, without being a full member of any economic bloc (eg MERCOSUR). Its trade liberalization treaties (eg FTA) allows people to access the 98% of international markets with preferential tariffs and / or free of tariffs.
Since the year 2000, Chile presents a sustained growth of its economy with a GDP increase of 5.1% in 2007. Furthermore, it presents a low inflation rate compared with the region, about 3% in 2007. In 2006, the president established funds for economic and social stability, which are intended to accumulate reserves in times of economic growth to sustain development in times of recession.
The GDP per capita (PPP) was about USD 14.300/year in 2007 and its economy is divided as follows:
However, the 20% of the poorest people receives only 3.3% of the total income of the country, while the richest 20% get 62.6%. The unemployment rate is 7%.
- Total surface: 748.800 sq km or km2
- Neighboring countries: Argentina 5.308 km, Bolivia 860 km, Peru 171 km
- Coast: 6.435 km
- Coordinates: 30 00 S, 71 00 W
- Maximum height: 6.880m Nevado Ojos del Salado
- Minimum height: 0m Pacific Ocean
- Total: 16.454 million
- Gender Ratio: 0.98 male (s) / female
- Average age: 31 years
- Urban: 14.3 million (87%)
- Rural: 2.1 million
- Life expectancy at birth: 77 years
- Infant mortality (first year): 7.9/1000
- Average household income (2007): USD 14300/year
- Literacy: 95.7% of the population.
It will be our pleasure to assist you in planning your trip to Chile, and contracting the best services available at the most competitive prices in our market.
For more information about Chile, contact us and we will gladly send you further material about any subject of your interest. We will e-mail the information at no cost within 72 hours and it will be specific to your requirements.