Currency: Peso (CLP)
Calling Code: +56
Chile is an American country located in the
southwestern tip of South America. Its official name is Republic of
Chile and its capital is the city of Santiago. Before the discovery
of America, the lands located south of the Atacama Desert were
already called Chili in the indigenous tradition, and once settled
in Nueva Castilla and Nueva Toledo, the Spanish conquistadors
continued to call the southern region that way. Sometimes also known
as "valley of Chile", name that later extended to all the current
Although the precise origin of the place name "Chile" is unknown, there are several theories: the name would have originated in the Quechua word chire, "cold", in Chille, ancient hydronym in the Aconcagua valley, in the eponymous Tili - the Picunche cacique who ruled that same valley at the arrival of the Incas, before the arrival of the Spaniards; in the Quechua term chili, 'the cream of the earth', in chili, Mapuche onomatopoeia of the trile song, a word used to call this bird with yellow spots on the wings; in the Aymara chilli voice, 'where the earth ends'; or it would have been due to a group of mitimai Indians, transplanted to the "valley of Chile" by the Incas, who would come from a region where there would be a river baptized with that name. Under the government of supreme director Ramón Freire, a decree was established the name "Chile" to officially designate the country on July 30, 1824.
With a length of 4,300 kilometers, Chile can be easily divided into
different regions from north to south according to scenic and climatic
factors. Administratively, the country is divided into fifteen numbered
regions, Easter Island is part of the Región de Valparaíso, but lies
thousands of kilometers in the Pacific and can be fundamentally
distinguished from the mainland culturally. Since Chile also claims part
of Antarctica, its territory extends over three continents (South
America, Oceania, Antarctica). Every region of Chile offers worthwhile
and worth seeing travel destinations. From the driest desert in the
world and the highest peaks of the Andes in the north, through fertile
valleys, clear lakes and active volcanoes to fjords and huge glaciers in
the extreme south, Chile is one of the most diverse countries on earth
and a land of contrasts. The country also impresses culturally with the
metropolis of Santiago and many large and small towns that are always
worth a visit.
The colors each represent a travel region (see map on the right); the corresponding administrative regions are also listed.
The Great North includes the desert areas and the plateau in the north of Chile. Due to its extremely dry climate, the region is sparsely populated; largest cities are the port cities of Antofagasta, Iquique and Arica on the Peruvian border. Of particular interest to tourists is the endless Atacama Desert, which is considered the driest desert in the world and attracts countless travelers to the region every year with its charming landscapes such as salt lakes, geysers and valleys. A lot of pre-Columbian culture has survived in the Andes region, even if the peoples associated with it are hardly significant anymore. Economically, the north of the country is dominated by copper mining, the local Chuquicamata mine is the world's largest open-cast mine.
Region of Arica and Parinacota · Region of Tarapacá · Region of Antofagasta
The semi-desert areas from the Río Aconcagua to about the Rio Copiapó are called the Little North. The main urban centers are the colonial coastal town of La Serena and the mining town of Copiapó. The south of this region in particular harbors numerous colonial cultural treasures and scenic attractions such as the fertile Valle del Elquí, known for Chile's national drink Pisco, and snow-capped Andean peaks.
Region of Atacama · Region of Coquimbo
Central Chile, with a Mediterranean climate, includes the capital region and the regions north and south of it. Especially the coast of the region is a popular destination for domestic and foreign tourists. Two-thirds of Chile's population is spread across this region, including in particular the cosmopolitan capital Santiago, the historic port city of Valparaíso, the sophisticated seaside resort of Viña del Mar and the cities of Concepción, Talca and Rancagua. The landscape of the Valle Central dominates in terms of landscape, a longitudinal valley bordered by the Andes and coastal cordilleras in which viticulture traditionally plays an important role.
Metropolitan Region of Santiago · Region of Valparaíso · Region of the Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins · Region of Maule · Region of Ñuble · Region of Biobío
The Little South is also called "Chilean Switzerland" because of its landscape and consists of the lake region and the Chiloé archipelago. It is an area characterized by a cool, temperate climate and many attractive lakes and volcanoes with a large number of national parks and extensive forest areas. In addition to the local Mapuche people, German immigrants have also left their cultural mark, which is particularly evident in the architecture around Lake Llanquihue. The most important cities are Temuco, Valdivia and Puerto Montt.
Region of the Araucania · Region of Los Ríos · Region of the Lagos
The southernmost and most remote part of Chile is called the Great South. The huge area between Puerto Montt and Tierra del Fuego is characterized by mountains, glaciers and fjords, has little infrastructure and was isolated from the rest of Chile for a long time. The region's largest city, Punta Arenas, is said to be the southernmost city of all. The tourist highlight of the region, which is predominantly characterized by a subpolar climate, is the Torres del Paine National Park, popular with trekking tourists in particular because of its unique landscape. Adventurers are also drawn to the Carretera Austral trunk road. In addition, Chile claims part of Antarctica.
Region of Aisén Region of Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena
Easter Island is more than 3500 kilometers west of the Chilean mainland and is therefore geographically part of Polynesia, which can also be seen in the culture there. The subtropical volcanic island is famous worldwide for its Moai, huge stone figures erected by the Rapa Nui people. Despite its isolated location, it is one of the most important travel destinations in the country.
Another division is the Andes, which run through Chile from north to south. These are divided into a coastal cordillera, the large longitudinal valley (Valle Central) and the eastern cordillera. The large longitudinal valley descends continuously and disappears completely into the sea south of Puerto Montt, while the coastal cordillera forms the island chains and fjords off the coast.
With a total of around 5.4 million inhabitants, the majority of Chile's inhabitants live in the metropolitan region of the capital Santiago. The modern metropolis of Santiago offers a variety of architectural and cultural sights, worthwhile museums, parks and shopping facilities. Due to the international airport, Santiago is the starting point for every trip to Chile as well as the linchpin for trips through the country. In addition, the city is the undisputed cultural, political and economic center of the country.
The port city of Valparaíso is located west of the capital Santiago on the Pacific Ocean. Formerly one of the most important seaports in the world, the city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, impresses with its historic hills, the well-known cable-stayed elevators, an interesting street art scene and a unique flair. The neighboring town of Valparaíso is the picturesque seaside resort of Viña del Mar, which is also known as the flower town due to its extensive parks and is the entertainment center of the country with its popular beach, casinos and many nightclubs. Together with Quilpué, around 800,000 people live in the Valparaíso area.
Arica, Chile's northernmost city, is right on the Peruvian border. The port city with 180,000 inhabitants is the capital of the Región de Arica y Parinacota, has an important port, several beaches and in the shadow of the viewing rock "Morro" extends the historically valuable core with a distinctive pedestrian zone.
With its 180,000 inhabitants, Iquique is not only known for its major role in the Pacific War and as an important seaport, but also offers beautiful beaches with a spacious promenade and several architectural sights around the "Plaza Arturo Prat". The capital of the Región de Tarapacá in the extreme north of Chile also has several museums and a free trade zone for those who love shopping.
Antofagasta is the capital of the region of the same name and, with 290,000 inhabitants, the largest city in northern Chile. Architecturally certainly not a masterpiece, the city is used as a free port for Bolivia and is strongly characterized by local industry.
In the Región de Coquimbo north of the capital are the coastal towns of Coquimbo and La Serena, the latter of which is a popular tourist destination, particularly because of its historic, colonial-style old town and striking lighthouse. The second oldest city in Chile is a good starting point for exploring the region and as a stopover in the north of the country. Together, La Serena and Coquimbo make them home to around 300,000 residents.
Concepción is located on the Pacific coast in the Región del Biobío, of which the city is the capital, about 500 kilometers south of Santiago. It offers a few museums and parks, but is otherwise rather unspectacular despite its size. Together with the neighboring towns of Talcahuano, San Pedro de la Paz, Tomé, Coronel and Lota, the city forms a metropolitan area in which 670,000 people live.
As the capital of Araucania, Temuco is also the capital of the Mapuche people. One in two of Temuco's 260,000 inhabitants is of indigenous origin, which is also reflected in the town's history and in the worthwhile local markets.
Valdivia, the capital of the Región de Los Ríos is located almost 850 kilometers south of Santiago on the coast and is known for its fish market and for the resident brewery Kunstmann, which is why the city is also known as the beer capital of Chile. Despite the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 1960, the city still has some German buildings and many quiet parks and a promenade. A total of around 130,000 people live in Valdivia.
With 160,000 inhabitants, Puerto Montt is the largest and also the capital of the Región de los Lagos. Located in the south of the country, the port city serves as a starting point for trips to the Carretera Austral or to Chiloé. Puerto Montt was at the center of German immigration and still bears witness to many traces of the colonialists.
In the extreme south of Chile, Punta Arenas is the southernmost city in the world. The capital of the Región de Magallanes has 130,000 inhabitants, serves as a starting point for exploring the Chilean part of Patagonia such as the Torres del Paine National Park or Tierra del Fuego and impresses with its architectural highlights.
San Pedro de Atacama – In the middle of the Atacama Desert lies the
oasis of San Pedro, which is considered the tourist center of the desert
and from where most trips to the region start. The village itself offers
a variety of accommodation, gastronomy, colonial buildings and a museum
Pucón - Located in the Región de la Araucanía on Lago Villarrica in the direction of the Andes, this village is nationally known as a starting point for adventure and trekking tours in the surrounding national parks, but also relaxing thermal baths, Mapuche craftsmanship and annual festivals attract tourists to the village on the outskirts of the Villarrica volcano.
Puerto Varas - The small town on Lago Llanquihue is a good starting point for exploring the scenic lake region. It forms the center of Chilean Switzerland, an area predominantly dominated by German immigrants.
Puerto Natales – This small port city in Patagonia doesn't offer any major sights per se, but it serves as the linchpin to Torres del Paine National Park, making it a mandatory stop on any trip through Chile's far south.
Rapa Nui National Park – While undoubtedly the most remote World Heritage Site, Rapa Nui National Park on Easter Island in the Pacific is also the best known and most impressive. The stone giants erected by the Polynesian people of Rapa Nui (there are over 800 of them on the island) are an impressive mystery because one still puzzles what they were used for and how the gigantic colossi were erected back then. But not only the Moai attract, but also the ceremonial village of Orongo, petroglyphs, volcanic craters, caves and bays. The national park occupies practically the entire island and was awarded the first Chilean World Heritage Site in 1995 because of its unique culture. National Park Rapa Nui
Wooden churches of Chiloé – The 16 churches on the southern Chilean island of Chiloé around the Bay of Castro have one thing in common: they are made entirely of wood. Built in the 18th and 19th centuries, they exemplify the island's traditional and unique wooden architecture and the blending of colonial and indigenous cultures. To this day, the places of worship are used for religious purposes and are regularly restored due to weathering caused by wind and rain.
Old Town of Valparaíso – Until the construction of the Panama Canal in the early 20th century, Valparaíso was considered one of the most important ports in the world and the architecture can still be admired today. The unique flair of the colorful houses, steep streets and historic rack railways makes Valparaíso evoke a very special atmosphere in the city built on hills.
Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpetre Works – In the late 19th century, the export of saltpeter was a major industry in Chile. In the Atacama Desert near Iquique you can admire the remains of the largest saltpetre mining plants. Today the two complexes are ghost towns and one can only guess at the splendor of that time.
Mining Town of Sewell – High and remote in the Andes near Rancagua, the abandoned mining town of Sewell, nicknamed the "City of Stairs" due to its elevation, juts out of the snow. Today's museum village is a must for all those who are interested in industrial culture, because the former industrial town of a copper mine has been extensively renovated and now shines in new splendor.
Altogether there are 32 national parks in Chile; each offers a unique
landscape as well as flora and fauna worthy of protection.
Torres del Paine – Torres del Paine National Park in the Magallanes region in the very south of Chile is one of the most visited places in Chile by foreign tourists. Despite the harsh climate, the 2420km2 area captivates with its scenic highlights such as the eponymous Torres, the Paine massif, the Gray Glacier, several lakes and its unique flora and fauna. The national park is popular not only with trekking and adventure tourists but also with nature lovers and hikers.
Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales – The country's oldest national park is located in the Región de los Lagos east of Lake Llanquihue. The main attractions of the park, which is mostly covered with dense forest, are the 2652 meter high peak of the Osorno volcano and the "Saltos de Petrohué" waterfalls.
Conguillío National Park – The Conguillío National Park, known for its araucaria forests, extends in the Región de la Araucanía near Pucón. The park is dominated by the Llaima volcano.
Lauca National Park - The northernmost national park of the Andean country is located on the plateau in the Región de Arica y Parinacota and serves as a biosphere reserve. The highest point of the area is the 6342 meter high volcano Parinacota, one of the highest volcanoes on earth. Wildlife in Lauca ranges from llamas, guanacos, vicuñas and viscachas to Andean condors and, at thermal springs, even flamingos.
Alberto de Agostini National Park covers an area of 14,600 km2 (5,637 mi2) of picturesque glaciers, fjords and beautiful mountains.
Alerce Andino National Park is a protected area situated in Los Lagos Region of Chile. It covers a total area of 393 km².
Archipiélago de Juan Fernández National Park situated 667 kilometres West of Chile coast line became the inspiration for Robinson Crusoe.
Atacama Desert is famous as the driest place on Earth. Its annual average rainfall equals to 0- 0.08 in of water a year.
Bosque de Fray Jorge National Park is a protected reserve in Limarí Province, Coquimbo Region of Chile. It covers a total area of 100 km².
Calafquén Lake is a beautiful mountainous lake in Araucanía Region and Los Ríos Region of Chile. Calafquen Lake surface area is 120.6 sq km.
Chiloé National Park is a natural reserve in Los Lagos Region of Chile. It covers a total area of 431 km².
Mysterious impressive statues of natives' forefathers are spread all over the Easter Island.
Fjordland is famous for its fjords or deep ocean islets carved by glaciers over a course of thousands of years.
General Carrera Lake is a beautiful mountain lake surrounded by picturesque mountains in the Patagonia region. It covers a total area of 1,850 km².
Laguna san Rafael is a region in Aisen, Chile famous for picturesque glaciers and beautiful fjords.
Moon Valley is an area in Atacama desert, the driest place on Earth. It is famous for its alien landscapes and beautiful night sky.
Panguipulli Lake or Lago Panguipulli in Spanish is a beautiful lake surrounded by snow covered mountains in Chile. It covers a total area of 116 km².
Tatio Geysers or Los Geiseres del Tatio is an area in Antofagasta in Chile that is famous for its geologic activity.
Volcán Isluga National Park is a protected nature reserve in Tarapacá Region of Chile. It cover a total area of 1,747 km² around Isluga volcano.
The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is home to several major astronomy facilities, including the largest and most advanced telescopes in the world, such as the ALMA near San Pedro de Atacama operated by the European Southern Observatory or the VLT near Paranal. Overall, Chile hosts almost half of the world's astronomical complexes (and counting), including both optical and radioelectric facilities; some of them are visitable and very popular tourist destinations. The north of the country offers particularly good conditions for observing the night sky and the stars: low humidity, little lighting, a plateau and the clearest skies on earth.
Chile is the fourth largest wine producer in the world, and viticulture traditionally plays a major role, particularly in the "Valle Central" south of Santiago. Wine is also one of the country's main exports and in recent years wine tourism has added a new economic source. Many Chilean wineries offer guided tours with mandatory wine tasting and all sorts of extras. In the Valle del Elquí in the Región de Coquimbo, on the other hand, everything revolves around "Pisco", Chilean grape schnapps.
The Panamericana connects (with interruptions) Alaska
with Tierra del Fuego and is the most important national longitudinal
axis in Chile as Ruta CH-5. From the border crossing to Peru near Arica,
the road, which has mostly been upgraded to a motorway, runs through 13
Chilean regions, various natural areas and past natural monuments and
important cities such as La Serena, Santiago, Rancagua, Curicó, Chillán,
Los Ángeles, Temuco, Osorno to Puerto Montt where it bends towards
Chiloé and continues to Quellón. The Panamericana runs a total of 3,300
kilometers on Chilean territory.
Carretera Austral: The Carretera Austral, the trunk road of the south, officially signposted as Ruta CH-7, begins in Puerto Montt in southern Chile.
It leads through the partially untouched nature of the southern Región de los Lagos and the Región de Aisén to the hamlet of Villa O'Higgins with several interruptions where you have to use ferries. The road is not paved in large parts, but rather still a gravel road, but it still attracts adventurers who drive the almost 1,600-kilometer road south with their cars, motorcycles or other companions.
Upon entry, a “Tarjeta de Turismo” will be issued free of charge, which entitles you to a maximum stay of 90 days. It must be returned upon departure. German, Austrian and Swiss citizens do not need a visa for a tourist stay. More information on entry requirements can be found on the websites of the foreign ministries and the Chilean embassy.
It should be noted that no fresh food (dairy products, fruit, vegetables, meat and sausage products) may be imported into Chile. Baggage checks are carried out continuously and violations are punished with severe penalties.
Duty-free amounts from 18
2½ liters of alcohol
400 cigarettes or 500g tobacco or 50 cigars
The large international airport of Santiago-Pudahuel, Arturo Merino Benítez (airport abbreviation SCL), is served by many major airlines and their cooperations several times a day. It makes the most sense to fly out with LATAM or Iberia, as any further domestic or domestic South American flights within the framework of the South America Airpass offered by LATAM are very inexpensive if you travel with these airlines.
We recommend flights from Germany via Madrid or Sao Paulo (approx. 18 hours). Flights over the USA e.g. B. with United Airlines or Delta Air, on the other hand, take a very long time (approx. 30 hours) and you have to endure the American immigration procedure. However, flights to the USA often have the advantage that you can take more than twice as much luggage with you (two pieces of luggage weighing 23 kilograms each plus hand luggage). However, this is usually the case for long-haul journeys with LATAM via Brazil.
The bus can be used, for example, when traveling from Argentina.
Border crossings to Chile, which are located on mountain passes, are at least temporarily closed in winter (May-October). The Chilean border police provide a complete list.
Since the border between the two states runs along the Andes Cordillera, there are only a few border crossings, here from north to south:
The new crossing at the Jama Pass Paso de Jama at 4200m in the province of Jujuy (connection between Antofagasta and Jujuy/Salta) is open all year round.
Transition at the Socompa Pass Control Fronterizo del Paso Socompa
From the Chilean town of Copiapó, you can reach the Paso de San Francisco on Ruta 31 after 280 road kilometers
The approach to the Paso Agua Negra, at 4780m, is very steep and has many serpentines on both sides, open 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. only for cars and buses. A tunnel is under construction on the Argentine side.
The most important connection between the two countries, which connects Santiago and Mendoza, is tunnelled from 21 Las Cuevas (ARG) Las Cuevas wikipediacommons and is therefore open all year round. The Chilean tariff is therefore lower. The old unpaved pass road to the Paso de Uspallata still exists.
From Curicó you drive 99km to Paso Vergara at 2500m Argentina clearance is 5km under the pass. Not for trucks.
At 2553m is the Paso Pehuenche, open 9am-6pm. Paso Pichachen
Paso Pino Hachado
The Chilean clearance is in the village of Icalma on the lake of the same name.
Paso Engineer Ibánez Pallavicini. The Chilean border clearance takes place at 23 Puerto Ingeniero Ibáñez, 17km away. It is 54 km to Perito Moreno.
The road to Paso Río Jemeneni runs along the south bank of Laog General Carrera. The nearest Argentine town is 24 Perito Moreno, 88km away.
In the remote southern Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena are five crossings. The southernmost is Bellavista on Tierra del Fuego.
Very remote are the border stations at the border triangle Peru/Chile/Bolivia in 25 Tripartito as well as between Visviri (CHI) / Charaña (BOL), 205km from Arica only open for cars.
The border crossing on the CH-11 or Bolivian RN4 leads past the Lauca National Park in the mountains at the village of Jancoaque.
The Chilean roads leading to the Bolivian border on the RN-5 are bad
Parallel to the freight line of the Ferrocarril de Antofagasta a Bolivia is the crossing at the CH-21 at Ollagüe (CHI) / Estación Avaroa (BOL) at 3700 m.
Between the Peruvian Tacna internet wikipediacommons and the Chilean coastal town of Arica internet wikivoyagewikipediacommons there are 58 kilometers of road, some of which are toll roads. The actual transition is at Sta. Rosa / Chacalluta.
In addition to LATAM, there is also Sky Airline and Principal Airline, which offer domestic connections. Depending on the airline of the long-haul arrival, the prices for domestic flights can vary greatly. Cheap offers for e.g. B. 1 € but there is never.
Tip: At LATAM there are often savings tariffs that are 25% off the regular price. However, this is only displayed if you set the website to Spanish. (You can still book with a German address and credit card.) So you can zb. fly from Santiago to Valdivia or Puerto Montt for about 40 euros. Please note that these tariffs can usually neither be changed nor canceled (100% cancellation costs). A better alternative is certainly the so-called South America Airpass from LATAM. This is particularly inexpensive for long-haul journeys with LATAM and Iberia.
Trains run mainly on the main line from Santiago south to Temuco. Since the beginning of January, the last section of the railway line from Temuco to Puerto Montt, which was severely damaged by the earthquakes in the 1960s, has also been repaired. Valdivia is currently being reconnected to the rail network.
Modern suburban trains run in the metropolitan areas of Santiago de Chile, Valparaíso/ Viña del Mar and Concepción/ Talcahuano.
In the north there is only one remaining passenger service from Calama to Uyuni in Bolivia, operated by the Bolivian Empresa Ferroviaria Andina SA, but is currently suspended.
At weekends, the Tren del Vino, a rather touristic museum train, runs from San Fernando to Santa Cruz in the Colchagua Valley.
The bus system in Chile is pretty well developed. There are many large bus companies that constantly reach almost every corner of the country, at least in central Chile, from the city bus terminals (often very central). In the south it gets a little tighter, sometimes there are only two buses a week to national destinations (e.g. Osorno-Coihaique).
There are different classes (from Premium to Classico) that are usually significantly better than European buses. In the top class you have z. B. a 1.80m long lying surface for yourself. The main bus companies are Turbus and Pullman. Turbus is usually a bit more expensive, but the buses also offer more space.
If you want to cover longer distances, a night bus is recommended. You fall asleep at night and are there in the morning. Anything further south than Puerto Montt is no longer served by the major bus companies, but bus connections are plentiful and well available. From Chile Chico you have to take a detour via Argentina (Chile Chico/ CL -> Rio Gallegos/ AR [change trains] -> Puerto Natales/ CL, approx. 16 h) due to the lack of roads. In terms of price, it is actually very cheap, for example from Santiago to Temuco for about 13 euros per person and otherwise the bus connection is cheap by German standards. There are regular bus connections to Chile in neighboring countries.
In the street
The traffic rules and signs correspond to those in Europe. Unfortunately, they are rarely respected. Driving in Santiago is like Rome (Italy). In the south of Chile, on the other hand, the situation can definitely be compared to that in Germany/AT/CH. However, it is better to look twice at zebra crossings before crossing the street. The maximum permissible speed in built-up areas is 60 km/h.
On the Panamericana/Ruta 5, which has meanwhile been continuously developed as a freeway (toll) from La Serena to Puerto Montt, you can make quite quick progress. The speed limit is 120km/h. Otherwise, many main roads are asphalted and well developed. The gravel roads ("Rípio") are slower, but without an off-road vehicle the driving pleasure on these roads is very limited. A good overview of the current state of development can be found on the Turistel website under "Mapas Ruteros". In general, the publisher Turiscom offers very good maps and travel guides, which unfortunately are only available in Chile.
A real pioneer road is the Carretera Austral, which should one day connect the province of Magallanes with the rest of Chile. In between, however, lies the Patagonian ice sheet, lots of fjords and mountain ridges. So until that happens, all road transport to the south will have to go through Argentina.
Gas stations ("Servicentros") are sufficiently available, but this does not apply to particularly remote areas such as the north or the Carretera Austral and Tierra del Fuego. You should take every opportunity to refuel here! The most important chains are Copec, Esso, Shell and Repsol/YPF.
Rental cars: In addition to the internationally known providers such as Avis, Hertz, Budget and Alamo, there are plenty of local companies that are usually (but not always) just as reliable. ADAC members receive a discount when renting a car from the Automovíl Club de Chile.
Ferries: Ferries play an important role in southern Chile, calling at numerous fjords, especially south of Puerto Montt and between the island of Chiloé and the mainland. The individual sections of the Carretera Austral are also held together by the ferries. A classic among backpackers is the multi-day trip with the Puerto Edén through the Chilean fjords from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales.
There are two ferry connections to Tierra del Fuego: from Punta Arenas to Porvenir (1x daily/direction) and via the Primera Angostura strait in the Strait of Magellan (20 min, on the return journey from Tierra del Fuego sometimes very long waiting times (~6 h) are not uncommon) . See also: Tierradelfuego.org.ar
Cruise Ships: More and more cruise ships of all sizes are bustling in Chilean waters. Not least because cruise tourists are considered a particularly lucrative group, the infrastructure is also being expanded. In order to allow large cruise ships access to Puerto Natales and thus open up the Torres del Paine National Park for cruise tourists, even the strait of Paso Kirke is to be blown up wider. Expedition cruises with a detour to Antarctica are particularly popular. However, you have to dig deep into your pocket for this.
Easter Island and Isla Robinson Crusoe: There is no regular commercial shipping service to these two islands. Theoretically, it is possible to travel to the islands with a supply ship of the Chilean Navy, but only if the trip demonstrably serves the common good (whatever that means). And even then, islanders have priority over tourists at all times, so the odds of actually making it along are pretty slim.
Hitchhiking is common in Chile among locals. Those who obviously look foreign will make even faster progress, since locals are then particularly interested in their origin. On the freeways, you can simply stand on the hard shoulder. If there is enough traffic, you rarely have to wait longer than 15 minutes.
The lingua franca is Spanish. However, in Chile
syllables and endings are often "swallowed", i.e. not spoken or not
spoken clearly. There are also many expressions (modisms) that are
unique to Chile. Communication is therefore not very easy for people who
are not confident enough in the Spanish language.
There are also languages of the indigenous minorities such as the Mapuche (Mapudungun), which are not important when traveling through the country, as these minorities also speak Spanish.
A large part of the population has little or no knowledge of the English language. Even among young people this is not common.
However, there are relatively many Chileans, especially in the middle and upper classes, who speak German because their ancestors (usually several generations ago) came from Germany and/or because they learned German at one of the numerous "German schools".
The Chilean winter (June to September) is central and southern Chile's ski season in the Chilean Andes. Unimaginable, but true: Skiers and snowboarders have fun on numerous pistes from a total of eighteen ski centers along the Cordillera; and that in the middle of South America. However, the Chilean Andes offer ideal conditions for winter sports enthusiasts, even the European slope professionals use the qualitatively good to very well developed ski centers as training camps in summer. Particularly popular ski areas are the Valle Nevado above Santiago, Portillo, venue of the Alpine World Ski Championships in 1966, and Antillanca with a spectacular panorama in southern Chile.
In Chile, in addition to the Chilean peso (CLP), there
are other accounting units in which loans, insurance and rental
contracts, but also other financial transactions are sometimes
concluded. One of them is the so-called UF (= Unidad de fomento), the
other, which is based exclusively on the consumer price index (IPC =
Indice de Precios al Consumidor) and whose value is determined monthly,
is the UTM (Unidad Tributaria Mensual). Tax payments but also fines are
calculated on their basis. The central bank publishes the current
There are 816 CLP for one US$ and 881 for one euro (as of Easter 2022).
ATMs can be found in every city. Not all accept Maestro and not all Visa, V Pay cards are not accepted at all - so you have to pay attention to the logos. Deutsche Bank customers can withdraw from Scotia Bank free of charge.
Until a few years ago, the menus in Chilean
restaurants looked very monotonous. There was beef (lomo), chicken
(pollo) or fish (pescado). Everything mostly without sauce and from the
pan or the oven. The only side dishes you could choose from were usually
rice, French fries, a simple salad or mashed potatoes. In the better
restaurants, especially by the sea, there was also seafood as a starter.
Since around the year 2000, however, a fundamental change has been taking place in Chilean cuisine. More and more young chefs are discovering the country's wealth of different ingredients, especially the incredible variety of fish and other sea creatures, fruits and vegetables. They start experimenting with the ingredients in a very stylish way and develop very tasty and imaginative creations from typical Chilean ingredients. There are slight borrowings from European cuisine, particularly Italian and French, but it is by no means copied. The typical "Chilean note" is almost always preserved. The capital Santiago in particular is in an exciting culinary phase, but the trend away from the previously ubiquitous "Lomo con arroz" (beef with rice) can also be clearly felt in the provinces.
This positive trend is rounded off by the fact that really traditional Chilean dishes, which used to only rarely be found in restaurants but were only served privately on festive occasions, have found their way into restaurants. The preparation is often very time-consuming, so that there are now some restaurants that are exclusively dedicated to traditional Chilean cuisine.
One of the most traditional dishes is the "empanada", a dumpling stuffed with cheese and fried, or baked with a filling of meat, onions, eggs and olives. Seafood empanadas can also sometimes be found. Empanadas are usually served as an appetizer. Other traditional dishes include: Conejo Escabechado (braised rabbit), Carne Asada (grilled beef), Pastel de Choclo (corn casserole with meat filling) or Humitas (corn dumplings in a corn leaf). Recurring typical ingredients are, for example: Palta (avocado), cilantro (coriander), zapallo (a type of pumpkin), alcachofas (artichokes), apio (celery), aji (a paste made from chili and garlic), pebre (a sauce made from lemon juice, Oil, Tomato, Onion, Parsley, Green Chili and Coriander), Congrio (a type of fish), Centolla (king crab), Machas (a type of mussel), Jaibas (a type of crab), Locos (a sea snail), Erizos (sea urchin).
The typical Chilean fast food par excellence is the "Completo". In Santiago, for example, an entire line under the arcades consists only of different Completo snack bars. Completo consists of an ordinary hot dog bun, which is filled with various ingredients, in addition to the obligatory sausage. The most common variant is the "Completo italiano" filled with pieces of tomato, avocado and mayonnaise.
The nightlife is similar to that in Germany.
Especially in student cities there are countless pubs and clubs with a
lot of atmosphere. In addition to beer, various mixed drinks with Pisco
are popular. In some areas there is vino con frutas, which is red wine
with freshly pureed fruit and sugar, similar in taste to Spanish
sangria, but fruitier.
Compared to Germany, going out is extremely cheap. 0.5 l beer rarely costs more than EUR 1.50, drinks with the local pisco are even cheaper.
Although the prices for accommodation are significantly higher than in the other Andean countries, the difference to the other countries in South America, especially Argentina and Brazil, has shrunk significantly in recent years, as inflation in Chile was significantly lower than in these countries. Only campsites are significantly more expensive than there (at least 5000 pesos per day for a plot). Overall, the price level is about 30 to 50 percent lower than in Europe, with the exception of the luxury class, where there is no difference.
Overall, the hotel industry in Chile is well equipped, especially in the tourist centers, but small hotels (residenciales and hospedajes) are often easy to find even in most remote areas.
The state universities in the country also charge fees. Its reputation is generally good, and in some rankings the Universidad de Chile in Santiago is even ahead of the much larger University of Buenos Aires in Argentina. The Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile is even considered one of the best universities in South America.
Chile is one of the safest countries in South America, only in the neighboring countries of Bolivia and Argentina is the murder rate even lower. You can also easily travel around the country alone. In big cities, however, the well-known precautionary measures must be observed: do not go into poorer areas at night, watch out for pickpockets and, if possible, do not splurge on flashy jewellery. In rural areas, with the exception of tourist centers, there is no need to worry about your belongings.
Normally no unforeseeable and serious health hazards
are to be expected in Chile. You may become a victim of "Chilenitis",
the local version of "Montezuma's revenge". When traveling to the north,
because of the risk of Chagas disease (transmission through nocturnal
bugs), overnight stays in the simplest accommodations such as e.g. B.
mud huts warned. Especially when traveling from the coast to the Andes,
attention should also be paid to adequate acclimatization (altitude
sickness!). In the south there is a certain risk of infection with the
Hanta virus (transmission by rats), especially in regions VI, VII and
VIII. In addition, the ozone hole over the Antarctic is making itself
felt, especially in the southernmost region of Magallanes - despite the
mostly cool sun protection is recommended.
Medical care: Compared to other South American countries, the Chilean health system is quite well developed, but the private clinics are usually the better (albeit more expensive) facilities. In any case, it is therefore necessary to take out international health insurance. There are simple hospitals and health stations in the country, complicated cases have to be flown to the larger cities. One of the most prestigious and modern hospitals in Chile is the Clinica Alemana in Santiago, which was founded in 1918 by the German community. Other "German clinics" can be found mainly in the south of the country, such as in Concepción, Temuco, Valdivia, Osorno and Puerto Varas.
Pharmacies: The pharmacy is the first point of contact for minor complaints. At least in the larger cities it is not a problem to find a pharmacy, there are practically one on every corner and mostly belonging to one of the big chains (e.g. Farmacias Ahumada, Cruz Verde or Salco Brand). In addition to medicines, there are also drugstore items and often ATMs.
Chile has very different climate zones.
In the north of Chile, for example, there is no winter, temperatures along the northern coast range between 15°C and 29°C all year round with predominantly sunny days. Nevertheless, the heat is kept within limits, since the cold Humboldt Current, which brings Antarctic waters far into Peru, dampens the temperatures significantly. Therefore, the water temperatures in northern and central Chile are almost identical and rarely exceed 20 degrees.
In the central part of Chile, the temperatures are similar in summer, but in the winter months (June to September) there is almost daily cool fog that moves in from the sea in the evening and stays until the morning hours. These mists (called garúa, often accompanied by drizzle) cause a drop in temperature of up to around five degrees Celsius. The further south you go, the wetter and cooler it gets. In Puerto Montt or Chiloé, for example, it rarely gets warmer than 25 degrees in summer and snow can fall in winter.
In the great south of Chile it is mostly cool all year round. There are many rainy days and even in summer it is necessary to heat. The temperature in Punta Arenas in midsummer is 10°C!
The northern and central parts of Chile are mostly dry. There is the driest desert in the world (Atacama Desert).
The culture of Chile largely corresponds to that of southern Europe. Politeness is generally very important, for example it is common to offer a seat to a woman or elderly person on the metro or bus.
The postal service was introduced by the Spaniards as
early as 1748, and Chilean postage stamps began to appear in 1853. In
1851 the Englishman William Wheelwright was commissioned by the Pacific
Steam Navigation Company to build a telegraph line. After initial tests,
the first message was sent from Valparaíso to Santiago on June 21, 1852.
Regular operations began in April 1853. After that, the expansion of the
telegraph lines along the railway lines began. The first routes from
Santiago led to Valparaíso and Talca and were fully completed in 1857.
By 1892 the whole country could be reached by telegraph. Tierra del
Fuego was connected via a sea cable.
The first telephones were introduced in Valparaíso in 1880. In 1930 the telephone company Compañía de Teléfonos de Chile CTC was formed, which was later taken over by the Spanish Telefónica. Radio operations began with Radio Chileña in Santiago in 1922. The second major telecommunications group in Chile is ENTEL (Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones SA de Chile), the largest provider of internet and mobile phone services in Chile. ENTEL, Telefonica and other providers, some of which are local, now operate an almost nationwide network for mobile telephony.
70% of all Chilean companies have an Internet connection.
The origin of the word Chile is not clear. The
Spaniards called the country south of the Atacama Desert Chile from the
beginning of the colonization of South America. The most common
hypothesis is that the word derives from the Aymara language. There the
word chilli means 'land where the world ends'. This assumption is
supported by the fact that the first Spaniards who came to Chile set out
from the settlement areas of the Aymara.
Another, less common theory cites Quechua as the origin of the Inca language. At the time of its greatest extent, the dominion of the Incas reached as far as today's Santiago. The Incas may have named the land south of the Río Aconcagua tchili, meaning 'snow', in reference to the relatively cold climate and snow-capped Andes. In Chilean schools, the variant is also taught that the name could be the onomatopoeic designation of a bird common in Chile, which is called Trile today.
What is certain, however, is that the country name Chile cannot be traced back to the chili pepper (Spanish of the same name). This word comes from the Central American Aztec language Nahuatl. The chili (and the salsa made from it) is called ají in Chilean Spanish (see also: Examples of vocabulary differences).
Chile extends 4,275 kilometers north-south along the
Andes and the Pacific Ocean on the South American continent (including
the Antarctic part, about 8,000 kilometers), but is only about 180
kilometers wide on average. The narrowest point in continental Chile
(excluding Antarctica) is 90 kilometers, the widest point about 440
kilometers. The length of Chile, transferred to Europe and Africa,
roughly corresponds to the distance between the middle of Denmark and
Due to the long north-south extension over more than 39 degrees of latitude, but also the considerable differences in altitude in west-east direction, Chile has a large variety of climate and vegetation zones.
Chile lies on the border of several lithospheric
plates: the Nazca plate is subducted under the South American plate to
the Gulf of Penas, south of it to the Strait of Magellan the Antarctic
plate is subducting at a lower speed. The boundary between the South
American and Scotia plates runs through the Strait of Magellan in an
This is the cause of the pronounced volcanism in Chile and the regular, sometimes massive earthquakes. The first documented earthquake was the great Concepción earthquake in 1570. The 1960 Valdivia earthquake, whose tsunami caused extensive damage throughout the circum-Pacific region, was the world's largest magnitude earthquake ever recorded. On February 27, 2010, a massive earthquake measuring 8.8 Mw on the moment magnitude scale shook southern Chile and destroyed large parts of Chilean infrastructure. Central Chile was also badly affected. In Region VI and VII, high tsunami waves arrived after about 20 minutes, destroying entire coastal towns and areas. Even weeks after the earthquake, the country was shaken by many aftershocks. Overall, regions III to IX were affected in Chile.
Put simply, central and southern Chile consists of two
parallel mountain ranges running north-south: the Andes in the east and
the lower coastal mountain range (Coastal Cordillera, Cordillera de la
Costa) in the west. In between is the Central Valley (Valle Central or
Valle Longitudinal) with the main part of the population, arable land
and viticulture. The height of the Cordillera, Central Valley and Andes
decreases on average from north to south, so that the Central Valley
dipped below sea level south of the city of Puerto Montt, which is about
1000 kilometers south of Santiago. The coastal cordillera, of which only
the peaks of the mountains rise above the water, becomes at the same
time a chain of islands. A unique fjord and island landscape can
therefore be discovered in this region. In northern Chile, on the other
hand, there is no pronounced central valley, which means that the
landscape rises steeply from the coast at first and then forms an
approximately 1000 m to 1500 m high plateau with the Pampa del Tamarugal
up to the foot of the Andes.
The Chilean Andes, which only fall below the 2000 meter elevation line in a few places, are divided into four large blocks from north to south in terms of their geological and tectonic structure.
In the Great North (Norte Grande) of the country, an approximately 1000-kilometer-long chain of recent stratovolcanoes stretches from the border with Peru (about the 17th degree of southern latitude) to the highest mountain in the country, the dormant volcano Ojos del Salado (6893 m). which is south of the 27th degree of latitude, roughly level with the town of Copiapó.
In the Little North (Norte Chico) between the 27th and 33rd degrees of latitude, which runs a little north of the capital Santiago de Chile, is the 5000 m high high cordillera, which is free of young volcanism.
From Santiago de Chile over the entire Small South (Sur Chico) to a little south of the city of Puerto Montt (42nd degree of latitude), the 6550 m high volcano Tupungato starts again as an elongated chain of volcanoes, which, however, quickly loses altitude to the south.
In the Great South (Sur Grande), which extends to the island of Tierra del Fuego, there are only a few isolated volcanoes and the height of 3000 m is rarely exceeded. Here the glacial treasure trove of forms with glacial lakes, cirques and fjords dominate the landscape. The Cordillera Darwin Mountains form the last great mountain range before the end of South America.
The transition area between the coastal cordillera and the Andes can be divided into two areas: the Pampa del Tamarugal in the north and the Valle Longitudinal in the central and southern area. Both are distinct graben systems. The Pampa del Tamarugal stretches directly along the northern volcanic chain, while the slightly lower Valle Longitudinal follows the southern volcanic chain and plunges into the sea at Puerto Montt (41° 30′ S).
The Coastal Cordillera stretches across the entire western side of the country with a short break south of the island of Chiloé. It rises in the north of the country between Arica and Chañaral (26th degree of latitude) as a cliff directly to 1000 m (in places over 2000 m). Since the few rivers in this area do not have the power to break through due to the extremely arid climate, it is only cut through by a few valleys. The valley systems accumulate only south of Chañaral. The coastal mountain range flattens out towards the south and finally only reaches heights of more than 1000 m in a few places in the small south. The coastal cordillera continues as an island chain from the 44th degree of latitude (Chonos archipelago).
The Chilean Andes form one of the highest mountain
ranges in the world and probably a number of peaks over 6000 m above sea
level. Between them is the highest mountain in Chile, the Ojos del
Salado (6893 m), which is also the highest volcano in the world.
The following is a list of the most famous mountains in Chile (from North to South):
Parinacota Volcano, 6342 m, XV. Region (Arica and Parinacota Region)
Licancabur Volcano, 5916 m, II. Region (Antofagasta Region)
Llullaillaco Volcano, 6739 m, II. Region (Antofagasta Region)
Snowy Salt Eyes, 6893 m, III. Region (Atacama Region)
Tupungato Hill, 6550 m, Hauptstadt Region (Metropolitan Region)
Puyehue Volcano, 2236 m, XIV. Region (Rivers Region)
Great Headland, 3830 m, VII. Region (Maule Region)
Villarrica Volcano, 2840 m, IX. Region (Araucania Region)
Osorno Volcano, 2652 m, X. Region (Lakes Region)
Hudson Hill Volcano, 1905 m, XI. Region (Aisén Region)
Grand Pine Hill, 2800 m, XII. Region (Magellan and Chilean Antarctic Region)
Due to the special structure of the country there are
no longer rivers in Chile. With 443 kilometers of length is the Río Loa
in the north through the Atacama Desert. The streams that carry the
stream waters are mostly drawn from the snow and ice melt of the Andes.
Move the lower lakes nearly south to the required washbasin. The river
is used for irrigation in the agricultural sector, for energy generation
and for smaller parts also for tourism. Some streams from north to south
are as follows:
Lluta River, 167 km, XV. Region (Arica and Parinacota Region)
Lauca River, 160 km, XV. Region (Arica and Parinacota Region)
Loa River, 443 km, II. Region (Antofagasta Region)
Copiapo River, 162 km, III. Region (Atacama Region)
Elqui River, 170 km, IV. Region (Coquimbo Region)
Choapa River, 160 km, IV. Region (Coquimbo Region)
Aconcagua River, 142 km, V. Region (Valparaíso Region)
Mapocho River, 120 km, Hauptstadt-Region (Metropolitan Region)
Rio Maipo, 250 km, Hauptstadt-Region und V. Region (Metropolitan Region, Region of Valparaíso)
Cachapoal River, 172 km, VI. Region (O’Higgins Region)
Maule River, schiffbar, 150 miles, VII. Region (Maule Region)
Biobio River, 380 km, VIII. Region (Biobio Region)
Imperial River, schiffbar, 52 km, IX. Region (Araucania Region)
Valdivia River, schiffbar, 15 km, XIV. Region (Los Ríos Region)
To the north of the Chilean Sea is the Salt Sea, the
largest and most famous of which is the Salar de Atacama (3000 square
kilometers). Farther north lies the 21.5 square kilometer large Lake
Chungará at an altitude of around 4500 Meters, one of the highest lakes
in the world.
The largest and nationally beautiful Lake Chile extends southeast from the town of Temuco to Puerto Montt in the following directions:
Colico Lake, 56 km2, IX. Region (Araucania Region)
Lake Caburga, 51 km2, IX. Region (Araucania Region)
Lake Villarrica, 176 km2, IX. Region (Araucania Region)
Lake Calafquén, 120 km2, IX. Region (Araucania Region) und XIV. Region (Los Ríos Region)
Lake Pirihueico, 30 km2, XIV. Region (Los Ríos Region)
Lake Panguipulli, 116 km2, XIV. Region (Los Ríos Region)
Lake Riñihue, 77 km2, XIV. Region (Los Ríos Region)
Lake Ranco, 401 sq. km., XIV. Region (Los Ríos Region)
Lake Puyehue, 156 km2, X. Region (Lakes Region)
Lake Rupanco, 223 km2, X. Region (Lakes Region)
Lake Llanquihue, 860 km2, X. Region (Lakes Region)
Lake General Carrera, 970 km2, XI. Region (Región de Aisén), the western part of the Argentine Lake Buenos Aires
Chile is in the southern hemisphere, which is why the
seasons are shifted by half a year compared to the northern hemisphere.
The country can be divided into three climate zones: northern, central
and southern Chile.
Northern Chile (called "Great North") has many mountains over 6000 m high. The Atacama Desert stretches between the coast and the western main chain of the Andes. This desert is one of the driest areas on earth; often no rain falls for years. In the past, the desert was known for its large saltpeter deposits, while today copper is mainly mined there. The largest and most important city in this region is the port city of Antofagasta (310,000 inhabitants).
Central Chile has a climate comparable to that of the Mediterranean. This region is very fertile and densely populated. Here is the capital Santiago de Chile with around 5.5 million inhabitants. Valparaíso (seaport and seat of parliament, 280,000 inhabitants), Viña del Mar (popular vacation spot, 320,000 inhabitants) and Concepción (center of agriculture and industry, 216,000 inhabitants) are also important. The area north of Santiago is called the "little north" and the area south of Santiago is called the "little south".
The very sparsely populated southern Chile (called "big south") is an extremely wet region. The coast is heavily indented by a large number of offshore islands. South of the mainland is the island of Tierra del Fuego, which Chile shares with neighboring Argentina. Cape Horn, the southernmost point of Chile and South America, is located on the island of Isla Hornos off Tierra del Fuego.
Overall, Chile's climate is heavily influenced by the
Humboldt Ocean Current along the coast. This flows from south to north
and transports cold seawater from Antarctica. For comparison, while
northern Europe benefits from the warm Gulf Stream, the water
temperatures in Chile are significantly lower at the same latitude
(north/south coordinates). In Punta Arenas (southern Chile) – which is
about the same distance from the equator as Hamburg – the average daily
temperature in summer is 12 degrees Celsius.
A special feature of the Chilean climate is the El Niño effect, also known as the Southern Oscillation. Although this climatic phenomenon mainly affects countries such as Peru or Indonesia, it is also effective in Chile about every seven years and leads to increased precipitation here compared to normal years.
Due to the huge extent of more than 4000 kilometers in length, there are many vegetation zones in Chile. Little grows in the Atacama Desert. There is only vegetation near the coast or in the Andes area. Many different types of cacti, succulents and dwarf shrubs grow here. However, in connection with the climate phenomenon El Niño, the blooming Atacama desert regularly occurs, in which, after rainfall in the desert, large desert areas are only covered by millions of flowers for a few days.
South of the desert follows the steppe with dry grassland and in the Andes grows the rock-hard yareta (Azorella yareta), also called "Andean cushion". In the dry areas, the "Boldo shrub" (Peumus boldus) grows. On the coastal mountains and in the central Andes of Chile there are small subtropical cloud forests (“hydrophilic forests”), where, for example, tree ferns (Spanish Helecho arborescente) grow.
The wine-growing areas begin in the Río Elqui area, while outside the river valley there are only thorn bushes and cacti.
The honey palm (Jubaea chilensis) grows in central Chile. The Araucaria (Araucaria araucana) is the sacred tree of the Mapuche (natives of Chile), their large seeds served them for food. There are also numerous large eucalyptus plantations in Chile.
In central and southern Chile there are large forests that are assigned to the temperate rainforest. They are divided into the Valdivian Rainforest to the north and the Magellanic Rainforest to the south, both of which were originally dominated by beech trees. In the Valdivian rainforest, there are also some conifers from the southern hemisphere, such as the Chilean araucaria and the Patagonian cypress. Today, introduced pines, larches, and poplars are also found in Chilean forests.
In the XI. Region (Aisén) there are forests with, for example, the following tree species: Lenga southern beech (Nothofagus pumilio), Coihue southern beech (Nothofagus dombeyi), Luma apiculata, Aextoxicon punctatum (which is called Olivillo in Chile, among others), Embothrium coccineum, Chilean elm (Eucryphia cordifolia), candle tree (Maytenus boaria).
The "national flower" of Chile is the red Chilean wax bell (Lapageria rosea), it is called Copihue in Chile and is a climbing plant.
Patagonia consists of wide steppes and semi-deserts, on the southwest coast you can find the so-called Magellan Tundra. Large parts of the Aisén region and the Magallanes region are already glaciated, so that there is no longer any vegetation here.
Tierra del Fuego is crossed by large moors. Only a few tree species remain here, such as the Lenga southern beech, the Magellanic southern beech (Nothofagus betuloides) or the Coihue southern beech (Nothofagus dombeyi).
Guanacos, belonging to the camel family, are
widespread in the steppe regions. Vicunas and the huemul, which is
represented as the national animal of Chile together with the Andean
condor in the national coat of arms, live in the Andean regions.
The chinchilla, a rodent, and the puma also live in mountainous steppe landscapes. The forests provide space for deer, Chilean forest cats, foxes and hummingbirds.
The Humboldt penguin, pelicans and maned seals live even on the cold coasts of northern Chile, maned seals and Magellanic penguins in the ice-rich south.
Spread across most of Chile is the majestic Andean Condor, one of the largest birds in the world. The great salt lakes are home to thousands of flamingos.
Owls, Magellanic foxes and Darwin's rheas live in the barren south of Tierra del Fuego. Bush rats (degus) are very common. They are small rodents from the rat-like family that are native only to Chile and look like rats. Three species of them inhabit almost the entire country. They live in burrows in colonies and occupy the niche in the ecosystem that wild rabbits have in Germany.
About 13,000 years B.C. The first people settled in
today's Chilean territory (see Monte Verde). Later, northern Chile
briefly belonged to the Inca Empire until it was conquered by the
Spanish. In 1520, the Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan discovered the
Strait of Magellan, named after him, on what is now the southern tip of
Chile, while attempting to circumnavigate the earth. In 1535 Diego de
Almagro arrived in what is now Chile from Peru, but did not find the
riches he had hoped for and returned disappointed. The first permanent
European settlement was Santiago, founded in 1541 by Pedro de Valdivia.
Since 1542 Chile was part of the Spanish Viceroyalty of Peru.
Since the Spaniards found little gold and silver, Chile was a rather neglected colony of the Spanish crown due to its remote location. The great Atacama Desert impeded the direct route to Peru. Only later did Chile become an important supply partner for the other Spanish possessions through agricultural products.
Chile was home to various ethnic groups that have long been mistakenly grouped under the term Araucanians. In the south, the Mapuche put up fierce resistance in numerous wars. The conflict, known as the Arauco War (Guerra de Arauco), prevented Spanish colonization of the southern half of Chile in the long term. Most of the towns, settlements and forts were overrun and destroyed by the natives shortly after their construction. From 1602, the river Bío Bío actually formed the border to the Mapuche area. Continued resistance from the natives forced the Spanish to recognize an independent Mapuche nation in the Treaty of Quillín in 1641. In it, the Bío-Bío River was laid down as a border and sovereignty was granted to the Mapuche people, a process unique in the history of indigenous peoples in South America. Although there were repeated armed conflicts and unsuccessful attempts at conquest, the demarcation essentially lasted until the end of the colonial era. Only as part of the so-called "pacification of Araucania" proclaimed by President José Joaquín Pérez in 1861 was the Mapuche forcibly subdued with the help of Chilean troops and annexed to Chile in 1883.
In addition to the Mapuche attacks, severe earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions hampered the country's development. Many cities were completely destroyed, such as Concepción in 1570 and Valdivia in 1575. Chilean coastal cities were subject to frequent attacks by English pirates in the 16th and 17th centuries.
In 1609 the General Captainate of Chile was founded, but this was dependent on the Viceroyalty of Peru. In 1778 Chile became an independent Captain General with freedom of trade within the Spanish kingdom.
The urge for independence came when Spain was ruled by
Napoleon's brother Joseph in 1808. On September 18, 1810, a junta was
created that declared Chile's allegiance to the deposed King Ferdinand
VII, as an autonomous province within the Kingdom of Spain. This date is
celebrated in Chile as the beginning of independence. A little later,
Chile declared its independence from Spain and the monarchy.
In 1814, after the end of the Spanish War of Independence and the defeat of the patriots at the Battle of Rancagua, Spain regained power in Chile. However, the Spaniards were defeated in the Battle of Chacabuco by a Chilean-Argentinian army under General José de San Martín. In the Battle of Maipú in 1818, Spanish colonial rule finally collapsed. San Martín relinquished the presidency in favor of Bernardo O'Higgins.
O'Higgins himself was overthrown and went into exile in Peru in 1823. His successor, Ramón Freire y Serrano, was unable to properly consolidate his political power and was overthrown by Francisco Antonio Pinto Díaz in 1828. He introduced a liberal constitution, which provoked the ire of the conservatives. On April 17, 1830, Diego Portales Palazuelos overthrew the government at the Battle of Lircay. Portales ruled (indirectly, for he never became president) by dictatorial means until August 1831. In 1833, with the help of Portale, a strictly presidential constitution was drawn up. This highly centralized constitution granted Chile a long period of stability, until the civil war of 1891.
From 1836 to 1839 there was a Confederate War against Bolivia and Peru, which the Chileans won.
On September 17, 1865, Chile declared war on Spain (Spanish-South American War) after Spain had attempted to use military means to gain influence in Peru. It then came to the naval battles at Papudo and Abtao off the island of Chiloé. On December 5, 1865, Peru also allied with Chile to fight their common enemy. On March 31, 1866, the Spanish shelled the city of Valparaíso massively. However, the conflict with Spain could only be finally resolved in treaties of 1871 and 1883.
In the course of the 19th century, non-Spanish Europeans also increasingly immigrated to Chile, including Germans, whose traces can still be seen today, especially in the southern central part of the country (Valdivia, Osorno, Puerto Montt, Puerto Varas, Frutillar, Puerto Natales). .
In the Saltpeter War from 1879 to 1884, Chile occupied
the Atacama Desert, Lima and parts of the Pacific coast of Peru, which
had previously belonged to the neighboring countries of Peru and
Bolivia. In the 1904 peace treaty between Chile and Bolivia, Bolivia
gave Chile free access to the Pacific. Large deposits of copper were
later found in the conquered areas: Chuquicamata, the largest open pit
copper mine in the world, is located in this area.
Peru gave Chile the present-day regions of Arica, Parinacota and Tarapacá as reparations in the Treaty of Ancón.
In 1891 Parliament and Navy opposed President José Manuel Balmaceda; it came to civil war. Around 6000 people died in this conflict. Balmaceda lost two major battles and committed suicide on September 18, 1891. After the victory of the supporters of Congress, the previously presidential system of government was replaced by a parliamentary system until 1925, when a presidential system of government was reintroduced. During the riots, the Baltimore Incident occurred, which led to a diplomatic conflict between the new Chilean government and the United States.
Despite the border treaty with Argentina (1881), border disputes with Argentina intensified from 1893 because the treaty defined the Andes Cordillera as the border: the border line runs "over the highest mountains that form the watershed". On some sections, this definition led to controversial results. In the north, Bolivia traded part of the Puna for Tarija with Argentina after Chile occupied the Puna region in the Saltpeter War. An arms race broke out between Chile and Argentina. The border dispute could only be settled in 1902 through arbitration proceedings. Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego were redivided, giving 54,000 square kilometers to Chile and 40,000 square kilometers to Argentina. The border with Bolivia was fixed in 1904 with a mutually agreed peace treaty. However, a revisionism soon germinated in Bolivia, which to this day causes a difficult and often very tense political situation between the two countries. In the 1970s, when both countries were ruled by military dictatorships, the Chilean side offered to cede an approximately 10 km wide strip of territory along the border with Peru to Bolivia in order to finally create peace. The proposal was not implemented because Bolivia did not want to compensate for it. Bolivia then attempted to enforce a claim for sovereign access to the sea by filing a lawsuit with the International Court of Justice in The Hague. On October 1, 2018, the International Court of Justice dismissed Bolivia's case against Chile.
Chile remained neutral during World War I, but the
domestic political situation remained unstable. President Arturo
Alessandri Palma, who had introduced a social security system in Chile,
was deposed in a military coup in 1924, but returned to power in March
1926 after the introduction of a new constitution in 1925. Until 1932
(the longest) Carlos Ibáñez del Campo ruled the country with dictatorial
means. In 1932 constitutional order was restored and the Radicals proved
to be the leading party for the next 20 years.
The global economic crisis around 1930 hit Chile particularly hard. The prices for the most important export goods, copper and saltpeter, fell dramatically. From the 1930s onwards, the country experienced a slow recovery, which was interrupted in 1938 by an attempted coup by Chile's National Socialist movement and the ensuing massacre.
In 1934 there was a last major peasant rebellion in Ranquil, which was put down by police forces.
After Chile had remained neutral for a long time in World War II - also out of consideration for the numerous Chileans of German origin - President Juan Antonio Ríos Morales decided in 1944 to join the war on the side of the Allies. As a result, Chile declared war on Japan in 1945. However, Chile's influence on the outcome of the war remained insignificant.
In 1945 the country was one of the founding members of
the United Nations and joined the OAS in 1948.
On August 2, 1947, President González Videla appointed a cabinet of military and independents. Finance Minister of this cabinet was Jorge Alessandri, who became President of Chile in 1958 with the support of the Conservatives, Liberals and Radical Party. He won the presidential election against Salvador Allende, the United Left candidate.
The main opponents of the conservatives were the Christian Democrats, who were strictly anti-communist but moderately left-wing by European standards when it came to social policy issues.
On May 22, 1960, the strongest earthquake recorded in the world to date, followed by a tsunami, shook the coasts of Chile and particularly devastated the port city of Valdivia. The quake measured 9.5 on the moment magnitude scale. More than 2000 people died, which in turn created distraction from domestic political problems. Large parts of the country were still in the hands of a few wealthy families.
In 1964 Eduardo Frei Montalva won the election for the presidency as a candidate of the Christian Democratic Party, also with electoral support from the USA. Under the motto "revolution in freedom", he tried to combine social reforms with the preservation of the democratic order and to create a balancing act between the radical demands of the left and the rigorous defense of reforms by the right. A land reform distributed over three million hectares of large estates to farming cooperatives. Ultimately, Frei failed with his most important reforms, including the partial nationalization of the copper industry. In 1969 Chile joined the Andean Community as a founding state, but left again in 1976.
As in 1958, the opponent of Jorge Alessandri in the 1970 election campaign for the presidency was Salvador Allende, who was supported by the trade unions and socialists. Allende won the election and became President.
In 1969, the forces of the left formed the Unidad
Popular (UP), an electoral alliance that included the Communist and
Socialist parties as well as small humanist, left-wing Christian and
Marxist parties. The UP represented a socialist line, campaigned for the
nationalization of industry and the expropriation of the large
landowners. This alliance put forward Salvador Allende as presidential
candidate in 1970, who was running for the fourth time.
In the 1970 elections, the left electoral alliance Unidad Popular emerged as the strongest force with 37% of the vote and Salvador Allende was elected president. His conservative opponent, Jorge Alessandri, got 35.3% and Christian Democrat Radomiro Tomic got 28.1%. Runoff elections were not provided for in the then constitution. Allende was elected president in parliament with the votes of the Christian Democrats (around Tomic) on the condition that he would strictly adhere to the constitution and the rule of law. As a result, he nationalized the most important sectors of the economy (banking, agriculture, copper mines, industry, communications) and thus got into growing conflicts with the opposition - although the nationalizations were covered by the constitution. In addition, Allende's election victory in the USA met with fierce resistance.
With the victory of the “Popular Front government” under Marxist influence in Chile, the second American state after Cuba was governed socialistically. This seemed to confirm the domino theory proposed by US President Eisenhower in 1954, according to which the countries of South America would gradually fall to communism like dominoes. US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, when the victory of the left forces was in sight, said: "I do not see why we should allow a country to become Marxist just because the population is insane." Allende did not consider himself a Marxist and firmly rejected both the dictatorship of the proletariat and a one-party system.
When he took office, Allende had to reckon with US sanctions and countermeasures. As early as 1970 there was a fatal assassination attempt on General René Schneider, in which the CIA and Foreign Minister Kissinger were heavily involved (see US intervention in Chile). Schneider was an obstacle to the US government because he opposed a military coup.
The boycott by the USA, Western European countries and international corporations made the political system so unstable that parts of the military planned a putsch. A first coup by the 2nd Panzer Regiment failed in June 1973.
Finally, on September 11, 1973, there was a bloody
military coup against the government. President Allende committed
suicide in the Moneda. Hundreds of his followers died in those days and
thousands were imprisoned. All state institutions throughout Chile were
occupied by the military within hours. General Augusto Pinochet assumed
power as president of a junta.
In the years that followed, the military set up secret prisons all over the country, where members of the opposition and their sympathizers were often tortured to death. Thousands of Chileans have fled into exile over continued human rights violations.
Shortly after Pinochet came to power, the United States and Western European countries began to provide intensive economic aid to Chile again. The military government reversed all nationalizations except for the copper mines, implemented radical economic reforms and abolished trade union rights.
In 1976, the military government appointed paper manufacturer and former Chilean President Jorge Alessandri as President of the newly formed Council of State (Consejo de Estado), tasked with writing a new constitution to legitimize military dictatorship in Chile.
In Germany, Pinochet's government received support from the ranks of the Union, especially the CSU, for a long time. During his visit in 1977, Franz Josef Strauss praised the coup as a "huge blow to international communism". It is "nonsense to talk about murder and torture taking place in Chile". The dispute over the description of the military junta as a "gang of murderers" by SPD Research Minister Hans Matthöfer during a dispute over economic aid in 1975 is an example of the division in German politics on this issue. In the 1980s, criticism of the regime's human rights violations also became clearer within the CDU. Norbert Blüm's visit to Chile also coincided with this period, during which he confronted Pinochet in a direct conversation.
Torture was particularly common in the Colonia Dignidad, a heavily guarded settlement of German expatriates led by Paul Schäfer. The sect or totalitarian religious community was founded about ten years before Pinochet came to power and served as a torture center for the Chilean secret services during the military rule. In addition, Colonia developed into a thriving group that, among other things, exported titanium to Germany. Despite tips, legal charges and attempts by German citizens to flee, the German embassy in Chile exercised “extreme restraint” and remained inactive. What’s more, they had craftsmen from the settlement renovate the ambassador’s residence.
In December 1978, the Beagle conflict with Argentina intensified and there were threats of war against Chile. The uninhabited islands of Lennox, Picton and Nueva in the Beagle Channel became a point of contention, mainly because major oil reserves were suspected in the area. The dispute reached its most dangerous climax on December 22, 1978, when Argentina launched Operation Soberanía to militarily occupy the islands and invade mainland Chile. The invasion was stopped when the junta in Buenos Aires agreed to papal mediation. After Argentina's defeat in the Falklands War, this mediation led to the 1984 Treaty of Friendship and Peace between Chile and Argentina, in which all three islands were awarded to Chile. The almost final demarcation of the border with Argentina at the Fitz Roy Massif was agreed on December 16, 1998. Only a small undefined section in the area of Campo de Hielo Sur (“Southern Ice Field”) remains today. This area houses the largest freshwater reservoir in South America.
As a result of the earlier conflict with Argentina, Chile supported Britain during the 1982 Falklands War. This is how a damaged British helicopter landed in Chile. So far, however, the reason for his stay in this region is unknown. Furthermore, Chile helped Great Britain with radar and espionage activities. The Chilean ex-air force chief Fernando Matthei later confirmed the secret cooperation.
In 1988, a referendum on extending Pinochet's powers,
which was fundamentally problematic for the opposition, was held. Under
the current constitution, the junta had to nominate a future president
for the first time since 1980. Although participation in this vote also
meant recognition of the regime, the opposition took part in the process
which, unsurprisingly, Pinochet had been chosen. A majority (54%, with a
turnout of around 90 percent) spoke out on the question of yes or no
against another term in office for Pinochet.
In 1989 the first free elections took place after 15 years of dictatorship. The Christian Democrat Patricio Aylwin became president. Just a few months after the return to democracy, the newly elected president set up a truth and reconciliation commission in mid-1990. It was intended to clarify the political murders committed between 1973 and 1989 and the whereabouts of the disappeared (desaparecidos). What was new and formative for later truth commissions in post-dictatorial democracies of the Eastern Bloc and Africa during the 1990s was that the Chilean commission defined “truth” about crimes during the dictatorship as its goal. With the help of an "official truth" the division of Chilean society into two camps, each with different interpretations of history, should be overcome.
Aylwin continued Pinochet's neoliberal economic policy and endeavored to reconcile the opposing political camps in order to enable democratic coexistence. Cautiously ("justice as far as possible") he began to come to terms with the crimes of the military dictatorship: in November 1993, officers were tried for human rights violations for the first time. Many exiles returned to their homeland. The Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle ruled from 1994 to 2000.
Pinochet stepped down as army chief in 1998, but remained a senator for life and therefore enjoyed immunity. In the same year he was arrested in Great Britain on the basis of an arrest warrant issued by Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, but was able to return to Chile in 1999 for health reasons. In 1998 he was indicted by Gladys Marín before the Chilean judge Juan Guzmán Tapia, but in 2002 he was declared unfit to stand trial because of mild dementia, after which Pinochet resigned his post as Senator. Further attempts to prosecute him in court failed. He died on December 10, 2006 without ever having been convicted.
In 2000, the socialist Ricardo Lagos became the new Chilean president. He narrowly defeated his conservative opponent Joaquín Lavín in a runoff. After Allende, Lagos became the second socialist president to move into Moneda. Lagos made tackling unemployment the goal of his government. His program also envisaged the reintroduction of collective bargaining autonomy and the integration of the army budget into the state budget. Lagos left office in 2006 with an economically and politically positive record. Socialist Michelle Bachelet was elected as her successor as the country's first female president.
In 2010 Sebastián Piñera won the presidential election after a run-off against his competitor Frei. On March 11, 2011 he took office. Piñera was the first right-wing president in almost 20 years.
On December 15, 2013, the socialist Michelle Bachelet was re-elected president in a second ballot. Bachelet prevailed with around 62.2 percent of the votes against the conservative challenger Evelyn Matthei.
Sebastián Piñera won the elections at the end of 2017. He began his second presidency on March 11, 2018.
Triggered by an increase in subway prices, there have
been protests against social inequality in Chile since mid-October 2019.
As the riots unfolded, Piñera declared a state of emergency, deployed
the military, and called for what he called the insurgents' "war against
a powerful, implacable enemy." Because of the ongoing protests, the
government canceled the UN climate conference that was scheduled to be
held in Santiago de Chile in December 2019.
In December 2019, a referendum on a new constitution was announced. Originally scheduled for April 26, 2020, it was postponed to October 25 of the same year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A large majority voted for a new constitution to be drafted (78%). For this purpose, a constituent assembly is to be elected, whose representatives will be elected directly (79%).
In the elections to the Constituent Assembly that took place on the weekend of May 15 and 16, 2021, President Sebastián Piñera’s party alliance Chile Vamos suffered a defeat. The assembly of 155 delegates will be dominated by left-wing, neutral and non-partisan delegates, while conservative and right-wing parties did not achieve the necessary blocking minority of one-third of the seats to be able to block certain changes alone.
The constitutional convention met for the first time on July 5, 2021, and the deadline for submitting discussion proposals for constitutional reform was February 2022. In June, the 388-article constitutional proposal was officially adopted by the Assembly, and then handed over to President Gabriel Boric on July 4th. On September 4, 2022, this was clearly rejected in a plebiscite by 62%.
The most controversial assessments are caused by the
period 1970-1988, associated with the activities of the government of
President Salvador Allende and the reforms of the military junta of
General Augusto Pinochet.
After the People's Unity bloc (an association of left-wing and center-left parties and organizations) came to power, headed by the elected (but did not receive an absolute majority) President Salvador Allende, in 1970-1972, a complex of socio-economic transformations of the left bloc was carried out in the country: nationalization enterprises and banks, agrarian reform, implementation of social programs, changes in labor legislation in the interests of employees. At this time, experiments were being carried out with computer control of the state economy (Project Cybersyn), which received mixed results due to slow feedback. Allende's policy faced growing resistance from conservative financial, industrial and latifundist circles within the country and pressure from foreign corporations. This led to economic difficulties, which then turned into an economic crisis. High inflation and commodity shortages caused social tensions to rise, accompanied by right-wing opposition-funded strikes, street riots, and a surge in right-wing terrorism. The number of victims of the regime and those killed in the riots is unknown.
The economic situation was further exacerbated by the credit boycott of Chile by major US and international banks. President Allende was systematically subjected to pressure from one side of the radical left, who demanded to speed up reforms and move from the nationalization of industries resorting to sabotage to the complete expropriation of capitalist property; and on the other hand, the right-wingers, who demanded that reforms be curtailed and the proclaimed social guarantees be abandoned.
The CIA funded opposition media, politicians, and organizations to aid the campaign to destabilize the country. The legislative initiatives of the Allende government were blocked by a parliamentary majority that did not belong to the "People's Unity". Parliamentary elections in March 1973 confirmed the trend towards polarization of society. On May 26, 1973, the Supreme Court accused the Allende regime of destroying the rule of law in the country. On August 22, 1973, the National Congress passed a resolution outlawing the government and accusing Allende of violating the constitution. In fact, the "Agreement" called on the armed forces to disobey the authorities until they "stand on the path of the rule of law." The opposition did not have the 2/3 votes needed to remove Allende from power. By September 1973, state power was paralyzed.
The country's top generals decided to organize a military coup. During the coup during the storming of the presidential palace, Salvador Allende was killed (according to outdated data) or committed suicide (confirmation of this version was obtained as a result of the exhumation of Allende's remains in 2011). The dictatorship of the Governmental Junta was established in the country, headed by General Augusto Pinochet.
The constitution was abolished, the National Congress of Chile was dissolved, all left and center-left parties and organizations, both included in the Popular Unity and not, were outlawed, the United Trade Union Center of Workers (CUT) was banned and the Cybersyn project was destroyed, the activities of right-wing parties were declared “suspended ”, and in 1977 it was also completely banned. Later, new, military-controlled yellow trade unions were established.
Officially, the state of "state of siege" introduced during the coup lasted a month after 9/11. During this period, over 30,000 people were killed in Chile.
In 1990, in Chile, according to the methodology proposed by the United States, a “Commission of Truth and Reconciliation” was created, which operated for a year (and only at the request of the victims). The commission examined the cases of about 4,500 victims of the dictatorship. In addition to the Commission's year-limited term, the Commission was limited in its scope by the Amnesty Law passed by Pinochet in 1978, which made most of the crimes of the period of the coup beyond jurisdiction. For this, the Commission is still criticized by leftist, liberal, trade union and human rights organizations.
In 2004, as a result of the work of the Commission on Political Prisoners and Torture, created by the decree of the President of Lagos, more than 28,000 persons who, in one way or another, suffered from illegal arrests and torture during the years of the military junta, received a life pension.
The destruction of opponents of the authorities was
also carried out abroad. Notorious was the operation "Condor" to
eliminate political emigrants, carried out by the National Intelligence
Agency (DINA), together with the intelligence services of other
dictatorships in Latin America. For example, Operation Colombo led to
the fact that 119 people "expelled from Chile" were actually killed. At
the same time, the Pinochet regime engaged with the European far right
for the same purpose.
The period of General Pinochet's rule in political terms was based on the restriction of civil and political rights, the harsh suppression of the opposition. Repressions, imprisonment, torture continued until the end of the dictatorship. One of the famous victims of the repression was the Chilean singer-songwriter Victor Jara.
The implications of Pinochet's policies for the socio-economic well-being of the population are a matter of debate. According to the left, there was a significant setback due to the neo-liberal counter-reforms initiated by the government (at the beginning of the reforms, prices rose in some cases by 18-20 times, and for such basic foodstuffs as bread, milk, meat - by 4-10 times), in as a result of which today about 20% (according to official data) of the population of Chile are below the poverty line, and the dictator himself, members of his family and other leaders of the regime became the beneficiary of privatization.
After August Pinochet came to power in May 1973, a blueprint for economic reform was prepared by a group of Chilean economists, collectively referred to in the press as the Chicago Boys because they were predominantly graduates of the University of Chicago. It included deregulation and privatization, an independent central bank, tariff cuts, privatization of the state-controlled pension system, state-owned enterprises and banks, and tax cuts. According to a 1975 investigation report by the US Senate Intelligence Committee, the Chilean economic plan was prepared in cooperation with the CIA.
In 1990, the newly elected government of Patricio Aylvin undertook a program of "growth with equity", with a focus on continuing economic liberalization and reducing poverty. Between 1990 and 2000, poverty fell from 40% to 20%. In a 2004 World Bank report, 60% of this decline is attributed to economic growth, with the remaining 40% due to government social programs aimed at reducing poverty.
Successive governments continued the same economic policy. In 2002, Chile signed an association agreement with the European Union (including free trade, political and cultural agreements), in 2003 an extensive free trade agreement with the United States, and in 2004 with South Korea, anticipating a boom in imports and exports. Continuing the free trade strategy, in August 2006, President Michelle Bachelet unveiled a free trade agreement with the People's Republic of China (signed under the previous administration of Ricardo Lagos), the first Chinese free trade agreement with a Latin American state; similar deals with Japan and India were made public in August 2007. In 2010, Chile was the first country in South America to gain membership in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Chile has been classified as a high-income country since 2012, according to the World Bank.
Some experts, such as Nobel laureate and economist Amartya Sen, have pointed out that the policies pursued by the "Chicago boys" purposefully served the interests of American corporations at the expense of the Hispanic population.
In terms of infant mortality and life expectancy, the changes were very positive - the infant mortality rate dropped so much that Chile reached the lowest infant mortality rate in Latin America in the 1980s. The infant mortality rate in Chile fell from 76.1 per 1,000 newborns to 22.6 per 1,000 newborns from 1970 to 1985.
In 1978, censorship in the media was somewhat relaxed and, in limited cases, "live broadcast" on radio and television was allowed. In 1980, the country adopted a new constitution, but its full implementation was delayed until 1988. In 1988, as a result of the largest protests in the history of Chile in the country and under pressure from the United States, Pinochet agreed to a plebiscite on the issue of maintaining the dictatorship. On the eve of the plebiscite, the activities of right-wing parties were allowed (fascist parties de facto operated in Chile during the dictatorship, although the activities of all parties were formally banned). On October 5, 1988, Pinochet lost the plebiscite, and the National Security Council assembled by him rejected the dictator's proposal to refuse to recognize the results of the plebiscite and make a new coup. In 1989, Chile passed to democratic rule, elections were held, which were won by the coalition of parties for democracy, which was opposed to the dictatorship. In 1990, Christian Democrat bloc candidate Patricio Aylvin took over as president.
Experts assess the state-legal structure of Chile based on the 1980 constitution as a compromise between democracy and dictatorship, since it contains mechanisms that limit the ability of the civil authorities to control the army and provide preferences to the figures of the former military regime.
Chile in the 21st century
Chile has been a member of the OECD since May 7, 2010. Chile has been a high-income country since 2012. It is one of the most economically and socially stable countries in South America, leading in Latin America in terms of economic competitiveness, per capita income, globalization, peace index and economic freedom. Chile also ranks high in the region for state resilience, democratic development, and has the lowest intentional homicide rate in the Americas after Canada.
Chile has a Constitution adopted on September 11, 1980 after a referendum. The constitution provided for the continuation of Pinochet's rule for another 8 years, and most of the constitutional norms were suspended until 1990.
In 1988, a referendum called for the continuation of Pinochet's rule. As a result, Pinochet was defeated and called new presidential elections in 1989.
The head of state is the president, he is also the head of government. Elected by the population for a 4-year term, without the right to re-election.
The President has the right to appoint ambassadors and members of the government, determine the composition of the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, appoint the commanders of all branches of the armed forces and the head of the National Police. The president also has the right to initiate legislation and introduce bills to parliament.
The highest legislative body is the bicameral National Congress:
Senate - 38 members elected by the population for an 8-year term (with half of the senators replaced every 4 years);
Chamber of Deputies - 120 members (2 deputies from 60 constituencies), elected by the population for a 4-year term.
The National Congress was moved in 1990 to decentralize power from Santiago to Valparaiso.
The highest court in the country is the Supreme Court of Chile, to which the lower courts, including the Court of Appeal, are subordinate.
According to the results of the elections in November 2013:
"New majority" (center-left and left) - 21 senators and 67 deputies:
Christian Democratic Party - 6 senators, 21 deputies
Socialist Party - 6 senators, 15 deputies
Party for Democracy - 6 senators, 15 deputies
Radical Social Democratic Party - 6 deputies
Communist Party - 6 deputies
Broad social movement - 1 senator
Left Civic Party of Chile - 1 MP
Non-partisans - 2 senators, 4 deputies;
"Alliance" (center-right) - 16 senators and 49 deputies:
Independent Democratic Union - 8 senators, 29 deputies
National renewal - 8 senators, 19 deputies
Non-partisan center-right - 1 deputy;
“If you want, Chile will change” (centrists and centre-left) - 1 deputy:
Liberal Party - 1 MP
Progressive Party - 0 deputies;
Outside the blocs - 1 senator and 3 deputies;
Chile is divided into 16 regions, and those into 56 provinces and 348 communities.
The main industry of the country is mining (copper and
other metals), Chile is the world's largest exporter of copper, which is
mined and smelted by the national enterprise CODELCO. Other industries
include metallurgy, woodworking, food processing, and textiles.
Agriculture, including fishing and forestry, provides 7% of GDP (13% of
employees), livestock breeding is developed, wheat, grapes, beans, sugar
beets, potatoes, and fruits are grown. Chile is one of the largest
exporters of fruits, as well as fish and wood products. In 1994, GDP
amounted to $97.7 billion (GDP per capita - $7010), in 2008 GDP reached
$169.6 billion (per capita - $14.9 thousand at PPP).
In terms of GDP per capita at PPP, Chile in the early 1990s exceeded the average Latin American level. The growth trend of this indicator continued in the future, in 2013 Chile has one of the highest per capita incomes in Latin America (along with Uruguay). According to the World Bank, Chile is classified as a high-income country.
Main trading partners: China, USA, Japan, Brazil. The monetary unit is the Chilean peso (1 Chilean peso (Ch$) is equal to 100 centavos). The total length of railways is 7,766 km, roads - 79,025 km, inland waterways - 725 km. The most important ports of the country: Iquique, Valparaiso.
In 2008 (estimate) budget revenues were $44.79 billion, expenditures were $35.09 billion.
Export 66.46 billion dollars (in 2008) - copper, fruits, fish, paper, chemical products, wine.
The main buyers (2008): China - 14.2%, USA - 11.3%, Japan - 10.4%, Brazil - 5.9%, South Korea - 5.7%, the Netherlands - 5.2%.
Imports 57.61 billion dollars (in 2008) - oil and oil products, chemicals, electronics, industrial products, cars, gas.
The main suppliers (in 2008): USA - 19.1%, China - 11.9%, Brazil - 9.3%, Argentina - 8.8%, South Korea - 5.6%, Japan - 4.6%.
Benefits: World's largest copper producer. Fruit export. Economic growth driven by large foreign investment. The highest level of credit confidence due to the stability of the Chilean peso and financial markets, public debt amounted to only 5.2% of annual GDP (in 2008; in 2004 - 12.8%) - 121st place in the world. Developed winemaking and fish processing.
Weaknesses: a large decline in copper prices on the world market sometimes brings up to 40% export losses. Great dependence on external oil supplies (90% of all oil consumed). Dependence on American trading partners. Relatively weak currency (exchange rate 509 pesos to $1 in 2008, but 609 in 2004). Inflation 8.7% - 2008 estimate (4.4% in 2007).
Gini index - 54.9 in 2003 (14th in the world), 57.1 in 2000 Household consumption (2006): the poorest 10% consume 1.6%, and the richest 10% - 41 .7%. Poverty rate 18.2% (2005).
Since September 3, 2018, the minimum wage in Chile is 288,000 pesos per month ($440.37 per month). As of January 1, 2021, Chile's minimum wage is the highest in South America and the second highest in Latin America, after Costa Rica (₡317,915.58 ($519.51), in Chile 326,500 pesos ($463.58)). The average wage in Chile as of 2018 is 4761.92 pesos per hour ($7.28 per hour).
As of 2021, Chile, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index, has the second lowest level of corruption among Latin American countries after Uruguay (22nd in the world) and ranks 25th in the world, one position above the United States.
Chile had 19.1 million inhabitants in 2020. Annual population growth was +0.9%. The population census of the Chilean state statistics office INE showed that the country had 17.5 million inhabitants in the middle of 2017. Of these, 8.6 million were men and 9.0 million were women. The population has increased fivefold since the beginning of the 20th century. In the census of 1895, 2,695,625 inhabitants were determined. The population increased to 5.0 million at the 1940 census and 13.3 million in 1992. Since then, population growth has slowed. A surplus of births (birth rate: 12.0 per 1000 inhabitants vs. death rate: 6.3 per 1000 inhabitants) contributed to the population growth in 2020. Statistically, the number of births per woman in 2020 was 1.6, that of the Latin America and the Caribbean region was 2.0. The life expectancy of Chileans from birth was 80.3 years in 2020 (women: 82.5, men: 78). The median age of the population in 2020 was 34.5 years. In 2021, 19.0 percent of the population was under the age of 15, while the proportion of those over 64 was 12.7 percent of the population.
In 2012, Chile's migration rate was 0.35 migrants per
1,000 inhabitants per year, making it one of the lowest in all of Latin
America. In 2017, 2.7% of the population was foreign-born.
In 1848, German colonization, sponsored by the Chilean government, began to populate the south of the country. Immigration from German-speaking countries influenced the culture of a large area in southern Chile, particularly in the provinces of Valdivia, Osorno and Llanquihue. Immigrants from other European and West Asian countries mainly arrived in Valparaíso and the extreme north and south in the 19th and 20th centuries. Among them were Austrians, British and Irish, Croats, Spaniards, French, Greeks, Italians, Dutch, Poles, Russians, Swiss, Jews and Palestinians. In 1953, President Carlos Ibáñez del Campo established the Departamento de Immigración and established rules for immigration.
In the 21st century, immigration from neighboring countries has become more important. Between 2004 and 2010 it increased by 50% to an estimated 365,459 people. The 2012 census showed that 339,536 foreign-born people were resident in Chile. They came mainly from Peru (103,624), Argentina (57,019), Colombia (27,411), Bolivia (25,151) and Ecuador (16,357). In 2014, 74.9% of immigrants were from the same continent.
Although emigration from Chile has declined over the past decade, 487,174 Chileans lived outside Chile in 2005. This corresponds to 3.01% of the population of the same year (16,165,316 people). Most expatriate Chileans now live in Argentina (43.33%), followed by 16.58% in the USA, 5.61% in Sweden, 5.21% in Canada and 4.80% in Australia.
Internal migration from rural areas to large cities has increased in recent decades. About 80% of the population of the central and southern regions of Chile was born in the region itself. In Región del Biobío, this figure reaches its highest level, at 86.11%. Only 71% of the residents of the Capital Region were born in the region and only 55% of the Magallanes y Antártica Chilena region are from there.
Most of the population lives in Regions V to X. The
most densely populated area is the Región Metropolitana de Santiago,
where about half of Chile's inhabitants live. The city itself has about
5.5 million inhabitants; it is home to about a third of all Chilean
residents. North and especially south of it, agriculturally used and
densely populated areas extend in the plain between the main ranges of
the Andes. Only 100 kilometers west of Santiago is the metropolitan area
around the port city of Valparaíso with around one million inhabitants.
The population density decreases more and more to the north and south. The Atacama Desert in the extreme north and the harsh, stormy areas in the south are very sparsely populated due to the unfavorable climatic conditions.
The population of Chile is very unequally distributed
in international comparison. The 2002 census revealed that 13,090,113
Chileans, or 86.59% of the total population, live in cities. The regions
in climatic extreme zones have the highest degree of urbanization -
97.68% of the population of the Antofagasta region, 94.06% of Tarapacá
and 92.6% of Magallanes y Antártica Chilena live in cities. Industrial
sites in central Chile are also highly urbanized - 96.93% of people in
the capital region and 91.56% in the Valparaíso region are city
dwellers. The 2,026,322 people or 13.41% of the total population living
in the countryside work mostly in agriculture and animal husbandry. They
are concentrated in central and southern Chile; 33.59% of the population
of Maule, 32.33% of La Araucanía and 31.56% of Los Lagos live in the
In the 1920s, rural people began migrating to cities in search of better living conditions. As a result, the cities grew rapidly and formed large conurbations. Greater Santiago is the largest such metropolitan area. In 2002, 5,428,590 people lived here, or more than a third of all Chilean residents, while in 1907 it had 383,587 and 549,292 residents in 1920, which was 16% of Chile's population. Urban growth also meant that formerly rural areas became parts of cities, such as Puente Alto or Maipú, which are now among the most populous municipalities in Chile. In January 2015, Santiago was the seventh most populous city in Latin America, behind São Paulo, Ciudad de México, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Lima and Bogotá; it ranks 54th worldwide.
Similar to the capital, Valparaíso and Viña del Mar have also been affected by strong population growth. They have thus grown together with Concón, Quilpué and Villa Alemana to form the greater Gran Valparaíso area. Also Concepción, Talcahuano, Hualpén, Chiguayante, San Pedro de la Paz, Penco, Coronel, Lota, Hualqui and Tomé form a metropolitan area called Gran Concepción. Both metropolitan areas had more than 660,000 inhabitants in 2002.
Other important cities and agglomerations are the agglomeration of La Serena-Coquimbo (296,253 inhabitants in 2002), Antofagasta (285,255), Temuco-Padre Las Casas (260,878), Rancagua (236,363), Iquique-Alto Hospicio (214,586 ), Talca (191,154), Arica (175,441), Chillán-Chillán Viejo (165,528), Puerto Montt (153,118), Los Ángeles (138,856), Calama (136,600), Copiapó (134,531), Osorno (132,245), Quillota (128,874), Valdivia (127,750), Punta Arenas (116,005), San Antonio (106,101) and Curicó (104,124). Most of these cities are located along the Pacific coast or in the Central Valley in central Chile between Santiago and Puerto Montt.
The Chilean population is characterized by a high
degree of homogeneity. The Chileans with European ancestors and mestizos
make up around 88.92 percent of the population. 11.08 percent are formed
by the indigenous population. Of these, 82 percent are Mapuche, 6
percent Aymara, 2.5 percent Diaguita and 0.5 percent Rapanui. Chile has
not yet signed ILO Convention 169, which protects the rights of
The Mapuche people live predominantly in the region between the Bio-Bío and Toltén rivers and have a population share of 23 percent there. The Mapuche, formerly known along with other peoples of the region under the collective name Araucanians (rejected by the Mapuche themselves), can be divided into Pewenche, Lafkenche, Wenteche and Huilliche (the Picunche living in the north fell victim to the Spanish conquest). Their language, Mapudungun, has been taught as a supplementary subject at school for a few years and is used for a daily news program on local television on Canal 13 Temuco. Despite these achievements, the traditional way of life of the Mapuche remains endangered by the loss of their land and the liberal economic order. Mapuche often have to migrate to the big cities in search of paid work.
Smaller groups of Quechua, Aymara, Chango, Atacameño, Diaguita and Kolla live in the northern part of Chile. Small groups of Selk'nam, Kawéskar, Yámana, Caucahue and Tehuelche lived in southern Chile until the beginning of the 20th century. About 40 percent of the approximately 5,000 inhabitants of Easter Island, i.e. about 2,000 people, are Polynesians (Rapanui).
During the colonial period, Chile was settled by Spanish immigrants, most of whom came from the Castilian regions of Spain. In the 19th century, a particularly large number of English, Irish and German settlers immigrated to Chile. Significant contingents of immigrants also came from France, Italy, Croatia and, more recently, Palestine and the Middle East. The first Germans arrived in 1843 and later settled mainly in the area around Lake Llanquihue and in Valdivia, Osorno and Puerto Montt. In 1913, the Handbook of Germans Abroad named 30,000 "Germans Abroad" living in Chile; In 1916, according to a census by the German-Chilean Association, the number of German Chileans and Chilean Germans living in the country was around 25,500. Most recently, during and after the Second World War, there was a wave of immigration from German-speaking countries. The German language is still used today by up to 35,000 residents, although the number is steadily decreasing.
The deportation of black slaves to Chile was very small at all times. The majority of them were concentrated in the cities of Santiago de Chile, Quillota and Valparaíso. Over the centuries, the blacks mixed with the whites and mestizos, so that today the African element in Chile has almost completely disappeared. An exception is the city of Arica in the province of Tarapacá. Arica was founded in 1570 and belonged to Peru until 1883. The city was one of the Peruvian import centers for African slaves. From here, a large part of the Bolivian trade goods were loaded onto European ships. Located in the middle of the desert, Arica was an oasis thanks to the Azapa Valley's excellent growing opportunities for sugar cane and cotton. Earthquakes, pirate raids and the outbreak of malaria caused many whites to leave the city. Thus, over time, a more or less isolated Afro-Chilean enclave developed. Chile was the first country in South America to declare itself against slavery in 1811 and finally abolished it in 1823.
In recent decades, workers from Peru and Bolivia have increasingly sought their fortune in Chile. As a result, Peruvian cuisine gained some influence in Chile in the 1980s. In 2007 the government decided on an amnesty for those foreigners, mostly from Peru, who worked in the country without a residence permit.[ Since the turn of the millennium, the economic crisis in Argentina has increasingly forced Argentines to look for work in the neighboring country. A small group of immigrants come from Asia, mainly Korea, and live in the greater Santiago area.
The best-known indigenous language is Mapudungun, the
Mapuche language spoken in southern Chile (about 250,000 speakers); in
addition, Aymara (approx. 20,000 speakers) and on Easter Island Rapanui
(approx. 1000 speakers) are widespread in northern Chile. A total of
nine different languages and idioms are used in Chile, including at
least four endangered languages for which only a few speakers are known.
In 2013, a single 85-year-old speaker was named for the Yámana language.
Quechua, which is widespread in Peru and Bolivia, is only used by a
significant number of speakers in the (formerly Peruvian and Bolivian)
northern provinces of Chile. Especially in the southern Chilean regions
IX and X there are numerous German Chileans, some of whom still speak
German, so that German is the third most common language in the country
after Spanish and Mapudungun (about 35,000 speakers are named).
The official language and by far the predominant everyday language of Chile is Spanish (called Castellano in Chile), whereby the Spanish spoken in Chile has various peculiarities, which concern vocabulary and pronunciation, the characteristic speech melody and individual grammatical peculiarities. Many expressions used in Chile have been adopted from native languages (mainly Quechua and Aymara, only rarely from Mapudungun) or from the languages of the immigrants (e.g. cachar - from English to catch - or kuchen). From 1844 to 1927, the "American" Spanish spelling, which was based on the suggestions of Andrés Bello and differed greatly from the regulations of the Real Academia Española, applied in Chile.
In Chile, as in Latin America, the Seseo generally prevails. As is the case everywhere in Latin American Spanish, a grammatical second person in the plural is completely absent; the associated pronoun vosotros/-as (“you” as a plural form of address) is also unknown and addressing a plurality of people is exclusively done with the verb forms of the third person and the addressing pronoun ustedes. Also in the singular, the salutation is chosen in standard language in the third person with the polite form Usted. The familiar form of address with tú ("you") is limited to the circle of closest friends, life partners and relatives of the same age or younger. Colloquially, an incomplete voseo is common, in which specific Chilean voseo verb forms are used to address the other person in the second person singular (for example: "estái" instead of estás, "querís" instead of quieres, "venís" instead of vienes, "vai" instead of vas ) can be used, the formation of which is reminiscent of the forms of the second person plural according to the continental Spanish standard (estáis, queréis, venís, vais). In marked contrast to neighboring Argentina, however, the corresponding personal pronoun Vos (“your” as a singular form of address) is avoided in Chile and mostly perceived as vulgar or disrespectful.
The country was long considered to be very Catholic,
even though church and state have been officially separated since 1925.
The influence of the Church on social life, the legal system (especially
family law) and the world of culture and media is still quite strong.
Until 2010, the country's second largest private broadcaster, Canal 13,
belonged solely to the Roman Catholic Church. However, legitimate and
illegitimate children have been treated equally since 1998, Chilean
marriage law has provided for the possibility of divorce since November
2004, and in 2015 the registered partnership (acuerdo de unión civil)
was introduced for same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Abortion has been
banned since 1990; However, a relaxation of the absolute ban on abortion
in certain medically and ethically indicated cases has been
controversial for years and was implemented in 2017.
In the 2002 census, around 70 percent of the population (7,853,000 respondents) counted themselves as belonging to the Roman Catholic Church, which is the numerically strongest religious community in the country. The ecclesiastical administrative structure consists of five ecclesiastical provinces with 26 dioceses and 920 parishes. In October 1999, a Law on Equality between Religious Communities was passed, which, however, left the privileges of the Roman Catholic Church untouched and only improved the status of other churches and religious communities. Around 15 percent of Chileans belonged to Protestant denominations in 2002; Due to the widespread Pentecostal influence, the proportion of Evangelical residents has increased, as in all of Latin America, especially in the last few decades (in Chile it was 1.5 percent in 1930, in 1992 it was already around 13 percent). In terms of other world views, 8.3 percent were named agnostics and atheists and 4.4 percent "others", which also includes the indigenous religions (e.g. the religion of the Mapuche). Minor denominations are Jehovah's Witnesses (1.06 percent), Mormons (0.92 percent), Jews (0.13 percent), and others.
Recent surveys have shown that Chile, together with Uruguay, is the most secularized country in Latin America. According to this, the Catholic Church accounted for 57 percent in 2013, the Protestant Churches (mainly Evangelicals) 13 percent, while non-religious people have accounted for 25 percent since 2011. The abrupt decline in practiced religiosity in Chile around 2010 is striking: only 27 percent of the religious Chileans described themselves as practicing in 2013 (2010: 41%; 2011: 38%), which is the lowest result in all of Latin America. At the same time, Chile is one of the Latin American countries in which evangelical groups are currently showing comparatively little growth. Although the study's period of investigation ended in 2013, the authors consider an increase in trust in the Catholic Church as a result of Pope Francis taking office in all countries including Chile to be discernible, without being able to assess its sustainability. The follow-up study published by the same institute in early 2018 shows that the decline has continued uninterruptedly since 2013: According to this, only 45 percent of Chileans today describe themselves as Catholics, making Chile the second Latin American country after Uruguay not to have a majority Catholic population. However, in the 2017 official census, 59 percent of Chileans still described themselves as Catholic.
Poets Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral received the Nobel Prize in Literature. The poetry of Vicente Huidobro is recognized.
The most popular sport in Chile is football. Chile has participated in nine FIFA World Cups, including hosting the 1962 FIFA World Cup in which the Chile national football team finished third. Among other results achieved by the national football team, there are also two victories in the America's Cup (2015 and 2016). The top league in the Chilean football league system is the Chilean Football Championship, which is named by the IFFHS as the ninth strongest national football league in the world.
The state television company - TVN (Televisión Nacional - "National Television"), includes the TV channel of the same name, established in 1969.
Chile has 15 public holidays, nine of which are religious and six are secular. In addition, the days of the plebiscite, presidential or parliamentary elections, official censuses are considered holidays.
January 1 New Year's Eve Año Nuevo Civil Mandatory
March-April Good Friday Viernes Santo Religious
Holy Saturday Sábado Santo
May 1st Labor Day Día del Trabajo Civil Compulsory holiday, the date does not change
21 May Navy Day Chile Día de las Glorias Navales Civil
June 29 Peter and Paul Day San Pedro y San Pablo Religious Postponed to the nearest weekend if it falls between Tuesday and Friday
July 16 Our Lady of Carmel Day Día de la Virgen del Carmen Religious
August 15 Assumption of the Virgin Mary Asunción de la Virgen Religious
September 18 Commemoration Day of the First Government Primera Junta Nacional de Gobierno Civil Compulsory holiday, the date does not change
19 September Army Day Día de las Glorias del Ejército de Chile Compulsory holiday, date not changed
October 12 Columbus Day Descubrimiento de Dos Mundos Civil Postponed to the next weekend if it falls between Tuesday and Friday
October 31 Reformation Day Día Nacional de las Iglesias Evangélicas y Protestantes Religious
November 1 Cathedral of All Saints Día de Todos los Santos Religious
December 8 Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary Inmaculada Concepción Religious
December 25 Christmas Day Navidad Religious Mandatory