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|Currency||Chilean peso (CLP)|
|Area||total: 756,950 sq km |
land: 748,800 sq km
note: includes Easter Island (Isla de Pascua) and Isla Sala y Gomez
water: 8,150 sq km
|Population||15,116,435(2002 Official census)|
|Religion||Roman Catholic 70%, Protestant 15,1%, Jewish NEGL%|
Chile narrowly stretches along the southern half of the west coast of South America. The bordering countries are Bolivia, and Peru in the north and over the Andes, to the east, lies Argentina. Chile has over 5.000 km of coast on the South Pacific Ocean. It also has a claim to a portion of Antarctica.
Map of Chile
Geopolitically, Chile is divided into 13 regiones (regions). Ordered from north to south they are: Tarapacá, Antofagasta, Atacama, Coquimbo, Valparaíso, Metropolitana de Santiago, del Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins, del Maule, Biobío, Araucanía, Los Lagos, Aysén del General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo and Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena)
note: Argentina and Chile's claims to Antarctica overlap. The US does not recognize any country's claim to Antarctica, but "reserves the right" to make a claim itself in the future.
A three-year-old Marxist government was overthrown in 1973 by a military regime led by Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet regime gave way to a freely elected president in 1990. Subsequently 3 left-coalition led governments have held power. The restoration of democracy,coupled to economic reforms done mainly in Pinochet's regime, have led to unprecedented growth in 1991-97 which has helped secure the country's continuing commitment to democratic and representative government. Chile is considered an example in terms of economic and political stability in the region.
- temperate; desert in north; Merranean in central region; cool and damp in south
- low coastal mountains; fertile central valley; rugged Andes in east
- Natural hazards
- severe earthquakes; active volcanism; tsunamis.
- Environment - current issues
- deforestation to some extent in the rain forest in the south; mining a historical industry is improving its environment relationship; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions (primarily in the capital Santiago); previous raw sewage, now being treated in most major cities.
- Geography - note
- strategic location relative to sea lanes between Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (Strait of Magellan, Beagle Channel, Drake Passage);
- 18 September 1810 (from Spain)
- National holiday
- New Year (January 1st)
- Holy Week (last days of march or fists days of April)
- Worker's Day (May 1st)
- Combate Naval de Iquique (May 21th)
- Corpus Christi (June 22th)
- St. Peter?s & St. Paul (June 29th)
- Asunción de la Virgen (August 15th)
- National Reconciliation Day (September 11th)
- Independence Day (September 18th)
- Army Day (September 19th)
- Americas Discovery (October 12th)
- All the Saints (November 1st)
- Inmaculada Concepción (December 8th)
- Christmas (December 25th).
Travelers from the Americas, most of Europe and some other countries like Japan, Israel, Singapore,Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Turkey and Indonesia only required their valid passport in order to get visa. For citizens of Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay, a national identity card of the country of origin can replace the passport.
Citizens of United States, Canada, Mexico and other countries that require a visa for Chileans to visit their country must pay an equal amount to enter Chile. The payment take place at the time of arrival and it is equal to the payment Chilean citizens pay for a visa application of the respective country. The payment is only required once for the duration of the passport (if you visit Chile again with the same passport - payment will not be required).
- total: 6,702 km
broad gauge: 2,831 km 1.676-m gauge (1,317 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 117 km 1.067-m gauge (28 km electrified); 3,754 km 1.000-m gauge (37 km electrified) (2000 est.)
- total: 79,800 km
paved: 11,012 km
unpaved: 68,788 km (1996) Major projects privately managed have greatly improved freeway system, from La Serena in the north to Puerto Montt in the south (1.600 Km), as well as a number of other roads in the central region.
- 725 km
- Merchant marine
- total: 47 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 669,670 GRT/931,647 DWT
ships by type: bulk 11, cargo 4, chemical tanker 10, container 5, liquefied gas 2, passenger 3, petroleum tanker 4, roll on/roll off 5, vehicle carrier 3, includes a foreign-owned ship registered here as a flag of convenience: Netherlands 1 (2002 est.)
- 363 (2001)
- Airports - with paved runways
- total: 71
over 3,047 m: 6
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 21
914 to 1,523 m: 23
under 914 m: 15 (2002)
- Airports - with unpaved runways
- total: 292
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 60
under 914 m: 216 (2002)
- Spanish 99%, Mapudungun 0,5%, Aimara 0.3%, Rapanui 0.1%
In informal conversations Chilean people talk using a very particular "slang" which can be very confusing even for native spanish speaking tourist. A good and funny book on this topic is "How to survive in the Chilean jungle".
Spanish is the only language spoken by most of Chileans. With the exception of main business hotels, Easter Island, San Pedro de Atacama, Torres del Paine and big cities tourist centers acustomed to receive tourists, don't expect to find English or any other language speakers.
In the lake district, there's a small portion of German speakers.
- Economy - overview
- Chile has a market-oriented economy characterized by a high level of foreign trade. During the early 1990s, Chile's reputation as a role model for economic reform was strengthened when the democratic government of Patricio Aylwin - which took over from the military in 1990 - deepened the economic reform initiated by the military government. Growth in real GDP averaged 8% during 1991-97, but fell to half that level in 1998 because of tight monetary policies implemented to keep the current account deficit in check and because of lower export earnings - the latter a product of the global financial crisis. A severe drought exacerbated the recession in 1999, reducing crop yields and causing hydroelectric shortfalls and electricity rationing, and Chile experienced negative economic growth for the first time in more than 15 years. Despite the effects of the recession, Chile maintained its reputation for strong financial institutions and sound policy that have given it the strongest sovereign bond rating in South America. By the end of 1999, exports and economic activity had begun to recover, and growth rebounded to 5.4% in 2000. Unemployment remains stubbornly high, however, putting pressure on President LAGOS to improve living standards. The Argentine financial meltdown has put pressure on the Chilean peso and is slowing the country's economic growth. 2004 saw the value of exports double due to the high price of copper. This led to a return to a high rate of growth for the economy as a whole which is set to continue for 2005 and probably for 2006.
- Chilean peso (CLP)
- Currency code
- Exchange rates
- Chilean pesos per US dollar - 514 (December 2005) 651.90 (January 2002), 618.70 (2001), 535.47 (2000), 508.78 (1999), 460.29 (1998), 419.30 (1997)
Other typical foods include
- Pastel de choclo: maize pie filled with ground beef and sometimes chicken
- Empanada de pino: a baked pie filled with ground beef, onion, raisins, a piece of boiled egg and an olive. Watch for the pit.
- Empanada de queso: a fried pie filled with cheese. Found everywhere, including McDonald's.
- Cazuela de vacuno: beef soup with a potato, rice, a piece of corn and a piece of pumpkin.
- Cazuela de ave (or de pollo): chicken soup with a potato and rice.
- Cazuela de pava: turkey soup with a potato and rice.
- Porotos granados: fresh beans with corn in three varieties
- con choclo: with grains of corn
- con pilco or pirco: with corn thinly chopped
- con mazamorra: with ground corn
- Curanto: lots of sea food, beef, meat and pork, prepared in a hole in the ground, a dish from Chiloe
- Southern sopaipillas: a fried pastry cut as 10 cm circles, with no pumpkin in its dough (see Northern sopaipillas in the desserts section). They replace bread. They are known South of Linares.
- lomo a lo pobre: a beefsteak, fried potatoes, a fried egg (in restaurants you should expect two) and fried onions.
Besides typical foods, you should expect food you normally found in any Western country. Normal diet includes rice, potatos, meat and bread. In central Chile vegetables are abundant. If you are concern about the amount of food, consider that the size of the dish increases when souther you go.
With such an enormous coastline you can expect fish and seafood almost everywhere. Locals will eat bundles of raw shellfish, visitors should be cautious on raw shellfish, though in good restaurants and coast locations it is generally safe. Chile is the worlds 2nd largest producer of salmon, as well as number of other farmed sea products, which include at least oysters (extremely tasty), scallops, mussels, trout, turbot. Local fish offer includes corvina (sea bass), congrio(conger eel), lenguado (flounder), albacora (swordfish), yellow fin tuna, etc.
- Hotdog or completo. Not similar to the American version. This one takes mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, tomato, mashed avocado (palta), sauerkraut (chucrut) and chilli (ají). All of it makes a full sandwich, i.e. un completo. With mayonnaise, tomato and avocado it's un italiano with the colors of the Italian flag.
- Lomito. Cooked pork steaks served with anything that can go in a hotdog. Italiano is the preferred form but German purists prefer it with sauerkraut (chucrut).
- Chacarero: a thin beefsteak (churrasco) with tomato, green beans, mayonnaise and green chilli (ají verde).
- Barros Luco: Named after President Ramón Barros Luco. Beefsteak with cheese.
A common combination is meat with avocado and/or mayonnaise, e.g. Ave palta mayo (chicken with avocado and mayonnaise) or Churrasco palta (beefsteak with avocado). The strong presence of avocado as an Chilean standard for sandwiches even make to the fast food franchises to put it a place in their menus.
- Mote con huesillos: dried peach (huesillos) cooked with with lots of sugar (giving a fresh syrup) with optional mote added. Mote is fresh cooked wheat with almost no flavor. Since the syrup is very sweet, the mix is good.
- Northern sopaipillas: a fried pastry cut as 10 cm circles, which includes pumpkin in its dough, and normally is eaten with chancaca, a black treacle or molasses. It's customary to make them when it rains and it's cold outside. Sopaipillas as a dessert are known only north of San Javier. From Linares to the South they are not dessert and they are made with no pumpkin. So, when it rains, Chilean Southerners must cook picarones.
- Kuchen (or cújen, pronounced KOO-hen). It's German for pie. In the South ask for kuchen de quesillo, a kind of cheesecake.
- Strudel (pronounced ess-TROO-dayl). A kind of apple pie.
- Berlín. When they translate John Kennedy's famous gaffe they say it's a ?jelly doughnut?. The Chilean version is a ball of dough (no hole) filled with dulce de membrillo, crema pastelera or manjar. Powder sugar is added just in case you have a sweet tooth.
As a major fruit producer, in Central Chile you can easily get fruit for dessert. There is a broad offer that includes apples, oranges, peaches, grapes, watermellons, strawberries, raspberries, chirimoyas', etc.
- Wine: Chile produces fine wines, competing with California, Australia and New Zealand for world markets. Look out for Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenere in red. Whites from the Casablanca valley.
- Mote con Huesillo: Dehydrated peaches with stewed barley often in water or peach juice.
- Chilean Pisco: Brandy made from Muscat grapes. Popular brands are Capel,Alto del Carmen,Valle Elqui
- Piscola: Pisco and Coke
- Borgoña: Red wine and strawberries.
- Beers: Cristal is the most popular (light). Several other main brands, Heineken, Brahma, Becker and premium Kunstman.
Chile has many types of hotels in the cities like Sheraton, Kempinsky, Marriott, Hyatt, Holiday Inn, etc. and a lot of hostels and little hotels of varying qualities. In the backpacker trail a local hostel version can be found in every small city residencial.
There is also a variety of accommodation in the mountain ski centers, the world class resort Portillo, 80 km north of Santiago, "Valle Nevado" in the mountain close to Santiago (35 km) or "Termas de Chillan" ski resort and hot springs, about 450 km south of Santiago.
Along with Mexico and Argentina, Chile continues to grow as a preferred destination for studies abroad. It is not uncommom to find groups of European or North American students taking interdisciplinary studies in Spanish in one of its many reputed universities.
- See Universidad de Chile official website www.uchile.cl
- See Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile official website: www.puc.cl
- See Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaiso official website: www.pucv.cl
- See Universidad de Santiago de Chile website: www.usach.cl
There is an ever-present and increasing demand for native English speakers to teach the language within the country. Many Westerners are attracted to work in Chile, for its European feel, safety, and its always-nearby coastal beaches.
See www.teachingchile.com There is a fee associated with this program.
Chilean Carabineros (National Police), Investigations Police
- Diplomatic representation from the US
- embassy: Avenida Andrés Bello 2800, Las Condes, Santiago
mailing address: APO AA 34033
telephone: 56 (2) 232-2600
FAX: 56 (2) 330-3710
- Disputes - international
- Bolivia continues to demand a sovereign corridor to the South Pacific Ocean since the Atacama region was lost to Chile in 1884; territorial claim in Antarctica (Chilean Antarctic Territory) partially overlaps Argentine and British claims; dispute with Peru over the economic zone delimited by the maritime boundary
- Illicit drugs
- A growing transshipment country for cocaine destined for the US and Europe; economic prosperity and increasing trade have made Chile more attractive to traffickers seeking to launder drug profits, especially through the Iquique Free Trade Zone; imported precursors passed on to Bolivia; domestic cocaine consumption is rising
Thankfully for many visitors, Chilean drivers are not as erratic and volatile as those in neighbouring countries.
Having relatively good standards in medicine throughout the country, it is not difficult to stay healthy. However, one will usually find more refined resources at a private medical facility.
- Formerly a deeply conservative nation, Chile has since liberalized many facets of its society. Simply keep in mind that it has a largely Catholic population.
- As opposed to other Latin American countries, many forms of swearing do not bear the same weight in this country and are not considered as insulting.
So swear away!
-Unlike other countries in Latin America, the Chilean police, despite not being really well-paid, is admired for its honesty and competence. Report any complaints to the police the moment you receive them, including that of a crime. Bribing is not acceptable in Chile in comparison with the rest of the Latin America, and you'll likely get arrested for it.
Chile has an extense network of communications. Mobile telephony (mostly GSM networks) is ubiquitous in major cities and central and southern Chile. If you stay for a consirable amount of time, you could even buy a prepaid cellular phone. Prepaid cards for mobile phones and landline networks and sold at most newspaper kiosks.
There are cibercafes in every major and midsize city and at all tourist destinations. In some remote locations, public libraries have internet satellite connections.
- Telephones - land lines in use
- 3.803 million (1998)
- Telephones - mobile cellular
- 11 million 70% of population (2005)
- Telephone system
- general assessment: modern system based on extensive fiber optic and microwave radio relay facilities
domestic: extensive microwave radio relay links; domestic satellite system with 3 earth stations
international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
- Internet country code
- Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
- 7 (2000)
- Internet users
- 3.1 million (2002)
- Diplomatic representation in the US
- chancery: 1732 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and San Juan (Puerto Rico)
FAX: 1 (202) 887-5579
telephone: 1 (202) 785-1746