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Chile is a beautiful country with stunning landscapes, incredible scenery, fantastic wine and cuisine and endless adventures. From the arid deserts of the north to the icy glaciers and mountains of the south, Chile is a unique country with discovery and adventure around every corner. To find out more about Chile before travelling to this incredible country read our "About Chile" guide...

History

Chile was first populated over 5000 years ago with various indigenous and traditional pre-Inca societies that settled in the land, the most well-known of which is probably the Mapuche indigenous people who inhabited parts of Argentina and Chile from around 500BC.

During the 15th century the Inca Empire, originally from the Cusco region of Peru, were expanding rapidly and in the 1470's they expanded into northern Chile eventually reaching as far south as the Maule River. Despite attempts to continue further south the Inca repeatedly met resistance from the Mapuche people and after a three-day battle at the River Maule (known as the Battle of the Maule) the Inca conquests further south into Chile stopped and the Maule River became the southern-most boundary of the Inca Empire at its greatest extent.

Shortly after the arrival of the Inca into Chile the Spanish conquistadors arrived in South America, which would forever change the destiny of the continent. After first visiting Chile in the 1530's and concluding the area had little to offer, the Spanish focussed their efforts and attention on Peru (due to the gold they had found in the Inca temples) and only returned to Chile a few years later when Pedro de Valdivia travelled south through Chile in 1541 controlling the local population and eventually founding the city of Santiago.

Pedro de Valdivia would go on to become the first Governer of the Captaincy General of Chile ruling the lands and reporting back to the Spanish crown. However the Mapuche people that had stopped the Inca expansion into Chile also refused to accept the Spanish conquest and were at constant war with the Spanish from 1536 right through until the Chilean War of Independence in 1818. This war is known as the Arauco War and took the live of Valdivia in 1553.

In the early 19th century Chile was spurred into a War of Independence against Spain, eventually winning independence on 5th April 1818 when San Martin (who was also involved in Peru's independence) beat the Spanish at the battle of Maipu.

Geography

Chile is famous for its long thin shape: from east to west at the widest point it is only a little over 200 miles wide, yet from the north to the south it is an incredible 2760 miles long. The most striking geographic feature of Chile by far is the Andes mountains, which rise from Chile's Pacific coastline on the west of the country up to a highest elevation of 6893 metres at the mountain Ojos del Salado, Chile's highest point. These almost impenetrable mountains are party responsible for the shape of Chile, with the country mostly restricted to the western slopes of the mountains.

From north to south Chile's geography is best explained if split into 3 main regions: the north, the central region and the south. The northern region (often split into 2 distinct regions - the north and the far north) is from north of Santiago right up to the border with Peru and Bolivia, and this region is mainly very arid desert (particularly the Atacama Desert in far northern Chile) and semi-arid valleys and rolling hills. The central region is the most populous region (with the most populous cities such as Santiago and Valparaiso) with a moderate European-style climate that is more comfortable for year-round living and is is more fertile - this is the region that is home to Chile's wine growing valleys. The south region (often split into 2 distinct regions - the south and the far south) is home to the beautiful Lake District regions and the snowy Patagonia mountains and glaciers.

Time Difference

GMT - 3hrs / GMT - 4hrs

Chile is split into three main time zones: The Chilean mainland uses GMT-4hrs in winter and GMT-3hrs in Summer, Easter Island is a further 2 hours behind using GMT-6hrs in winter and GMT-5hrs in Summer, while the Magallanes and Antarctica region use GMT-3hrs all year.

Over recent years Chile has changed and experimented with different time zones so it is worth checking when travelling to be sure to have up to date information.

Top Attractions

Chile is blessed with fantastic attractions throughout the country.

Torres del Paine national park in Patagonia is a highlight of Chile and one of the most stunning locations in the whole Patagonia region with the park containing turquoise lakes, snowy mountain peaks and the three "torres" or towers. Valparaiso on Chile's coast is a beautiful coloured seaside town with a network of streets to explore. The Atacama Desert and the surrounding region is a very popular region with epic landscapes, salt lakes, flamingos and geysers to admire. Easter Island is one of the most unique destinations on Earth and the hundreds of Moai statues continue to confuse and astound visitors.

Population

Chile's population is approximately 18 million people as of 2017. Santiago is the largest city with a population of around 8 millions people.

Sports

The continent of South America is passionate about football, and Chile is no different. The most popular regional teams include Colo Colo, Club Universidad de Chile and Club Deportivo Universidad de Catolica all based in Santiago, and Cobreloa in the Atacama region. The national team is also loved throughout Chile and the whole nation goes football mad during the World Cup and the South American Copa America competitions.

The national sport of Chile is Chilean Rodeo, which is particularly popular in the more rural areas of the country. Unlike rodeo elsewhere Chilean rodeo doesn't involve trying to stay on a bucking horse or bull but instead is a points-based sport and involves two riders circling an arena to catch a calf.

Religion

Chile is predominantly a Catholic country with around 58% of people declaring themselves as Catholic.

Chile in the Movies and on TV

Although it was set in Bolivia, much of the 2008 James Bond movie Quantum of Solace was actually filmed in Chile.

The popular movie The Motorcycle Diaries was set in Chile, with the movie following the motorcycle adventures of a young Che Guevara.

Magic Magic was a 2013 joint-production (Chilean and American) horro movie filmed and set in Chile and starring Juno Temple, Michael Cero and Emily Browning. 

Famous Chilean People

Alejandro Jodorowsky is a famous Chilean movie director.

Ivan Zamorano was a very famous football player from Chile, who played for teams including Real Madrid and Inter during his career.