Physical geography

Location: Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean and South Pacific Ocean, between Argentina and Peru. Total area: 756,950 sq km, land area: 748,800 sq km. Land boundaries: total 6,171km, Argentina 5,150km, Bolivia 861km, Peru 160km. Coastline: 6,435km. Terrain: low coastal mountains; fertile central valley; rugged Andes in east.


Temperate; desert in north; cool and damp in south.

Economic geography

Growth in 1991-94 averaged 6.5 per cent annually, with an estimated one million Chileans having moved out of poverty in those four years. Copper remains vital to the health of the economy; Chile is the world's largest producer and exporter of copper. Success in meeting the government's goal of sustained annual growth of five per cent depends on world copper prices, the level of confidence of foreign investors and creditors, and the government's own ability to maintain a conservative fiscal stance.

Industries: copper, other minerals, foodstuffs, fish processing, iron and steel, wood and wood products, transport equipment, cement, textiles.

Agriculture: accounts for about seven per cent of GDP (including fishing and forestry); major exporter of fruit, fish, and timber products; major crops - wheat, corn, grapes, beans, sugar beets, potatoes, deciduous fruit; livestock products - beef, poultry, wool; self-sufficient in most foods; 1991 fish catch of 6.6 million metric tons; net agricultural importer.


Population: 14,161,216 (July 1995 est.).


Roman Catholic 89 per cent, Protestant 11 per cent, Jewish.

Languages spoken by nationals



Four hours behind GMT.


The peso.

Official holidays (all offices and shops closed)

l January, New Year - Good Friday and Saturday (variable: March/April) - l May, Labour Day - Corpus Christi (variable: May) - 3 June - 29 June - 15 August - 18-19 September - 12 October - 1st November, All Saints - 8 December, Immaculate Conception - 25 December, Christmas.

What one should not fail to see

Santiago: The Santa Lucia Hill in the city centre is an important historic landmark, the Post Office, Audiencia Real Building (the National Museum of History) and the town hall of Santiago, Plaza de Armas, National Library, Casa Colorada (Museum of Santiago), Stock Exchange, Club de la Union Building, La Moneda Palace (Government Headquarters), Plaza de la Constitucion, Plaza de Armas, Central Post Office Building, Royal Customs Building (Museum of pre-Columbian Art), former National Congress Building, Palace of Justice, Club de Septiembre, Diplomatic Academy, Manso de Velasco's House, Santo Domingo Temple, Central Market, Mapocho Station, San Francisco Church, Paris-Londres neighbourhood, Catholic University's main campus, Vera Cruz Church, Bellavista district - Park of Sculptures and many museums.

Valparaiso: La Sebastiana, Pablo Neruda's museum-cum-house is located on one of the hills.

Lakes District: Puerto Varas, overlooking Osorno Volcano, Alerce Andino National Park, an old growth temperate rainforest filled with the exotic sounds of birds, cascading waterfalls and wind rustling through the thick green canopy. You can also enjoy a scenic float trip down the calm crystalline waters of the Petrohue River or visit Chiloe Island.

Torres Del Paine National Park is a spectacular land of glaciers, waterfalls and lagoons, or take an excursion to Easter Island.

Main holiday resorts

The ski resorts, which can be reached by bus or car, are located less that an hour's drive from Santiago. Farellones-El Colorado, La Parva and Valle Nevado are all situated on the slopes of the Andean mountains.

Main holiday sports

Skiing, trekking, horseback riding, canoeing, golf, surfing, water-skiing, hang-gliding, whitewater rafting.

What to eat and drink

Pastel de choclo (corn and meat pie), empanadas (fried or baked pastry with beef), Christmas bread, dishes feature kidney beans and many varieties of chillies. Try aji, a hot sauce, or pebre, fresh coriander finely chopped with onions and spices. Based on Spanish cuisine, the cazuela is a three-course meal that includes soup, meat and vegetables. Porotos granados is a bean and corn chowder, and humitas, crushed grains cooked in thier own husks accompanied with a salad. Chile also produces good quality wines.

Frontier formalities

To enter Chile the citizens of Argentina, Braxil and Uruguay and Paraguay need only an offical identity card, while visitors from most other countries require only a passport and a tourist entry card provided on the plane, which is valid for 90 days. Controls on perishable goods are very strict, but a visitor can bring in personal effects by simply filling in a Temporary Entry form.