Chile is a long, narrow country on South America's west coast. Chile is more than ten times as long as it is wide and stretches about 2,650 miles (4,265 kilometres) from Peru in the north to the southern tip of the continent.

Chile's name probably derives from the Mapuche word chilli, an Indian word meaning where the land ends. Santiago, Chile's capital, sits in a valley surrounded by the Andes and the Chilean Coast Range mountains.

The country is of startling contrasts and extreme beauty. The Atacama Desert in the north is one of the driest places in the world, but parts of the south are among the rainiest. The towering Andes Mountains from Chile's eastern boundary and low mountains rise along the country's Pacific coast.

A series of fertile river basins called the Central Valley lies between the mountain ranges in central Chile. The landscape of southern Chile is breathtaking. There are snow-capped volcanoes, thick forests, and huge glaciers. Many rocky, windswept islands dot the rugged shore.

Know before you go

CAPITAL: Santiago

LANGUAGE: Spanish & Mapudungun

COUNTRY CODE: CL

ELECTRICITY: 220V, 50Hz
To power any electrical item an international adapter or a two pin plug is required

POPULATION: 19.1 million

CURRENCY: Chilean Peso

DIALLING CODE: +56

TIME ZONE: GMT/UTC -4

Chile Climate

Chile has a number of varying climates. Parts of Chile's northern desert may not have any rain for years. The region is not especially hot and is often cloudy and cool resulting in temperatures reaching only 82°F (28°C) in the warm months of March and only 63°F (17°C) in July.

The central region of the country experiences a mild climate with warm, dry summers, and moderately wet, cool winters. In the coastal areas of Southern Chile, the winters are rarely too cold and summers are comfortably cool. Winds that blow across the cold Peru current, bring cool, cloudy weather and frequent fogs to the coastal area.

Travel Warning

Most visits to the country are trouble-free. Pickpocketing and muggings are common in many cities throughout Chile, particularly around well-known tourist sites, bus stations and areas visited by foreigners.

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.

Terrorist attacks in Chile can’t be ruled out. Attacks, although unlikely, could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.

There are occasional acts of domestic terrorism by anarchist groups, mostly in Santiago, including the use of small explosive devices. Groups mainly target banks (ATMs) and public transport.

Information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK www.fco.gov.uk

Things to do in Chile

Chile in depth

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