Travels in Chile:

Chile Cross Country Biking (9 days)
Sand , surf and singletrack

Trekking Torres del Paine (5 days)
Mountains - Glaciers - Lakes - Lagoons

Quick Facts:


Official Name:

República de Chile




756,950 sq km


Spanish (called Castellano in Chile)


Chilean Peso

Population figure:



Mostly of mestizo origin in various degrees; 4.6% (692,192) indigenous Indios


76.7 % Roman Catholic, 13.2 % Evangelical or Protestant, 7 % indifferent or Atheist, 4.2 % other (1992 census)

National holiday:

September 18th (Independence Day)

Government type:

Parliamentary democracy


A long and narrow coastal country on the west side of the Andes Mountains, Chile stretches over 4,630 kilometres (2,880 mi) north to south, but only 430 kilometres (265 mi) at its widest point east to west. Five north-to-south natural regions: desert far north (Norte Grande), consisting of dry brown hills and sparse vegetation and containing extremely arid Atacama Desert and Andean plateau; near north (Norte Chico), a semiarid region between R?o Copiap? and Santiago; Central Chile (Chile Central), most densely populated region, including the three largest metropolitan areas (Santiago, Valpara?so, and Concepci?n) and the fertile Central Valley (Valle Central), with a temperate, Mediterranean climate; heavily forested south (Sur de Chile), containing cool and very rainy (especially during winter) lake district and crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers; far south (Chile Austral), sparsely populated, forested, constantly cold and stormy, with many fjords, inlets, twisting peninsulas, and islands.


In 1520, while attempting to circumnavigate the earth, the Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan discovered the southern passage now named after him, the Strait of Magellan. The conquest of Chile began in earnest in 1540 and was carried out by Pedro de Valdivia, who founded the city of Santiago on February 12, 1541. Although the Spanish did not find the extensive gold and silver they sought, they recognized the agricultural potential of Chile's central valley, and Chile became part of the Viceroyalty of Peru. The drive for independence from Spain was precipitated by usurpation of the Spanish throne by Napoleon's brother Joseph in 1808. A national junta in the name of Ferdinand ? heir to the deposed king ? was formed on September 18, 1810. The junta proclaimed Chile an autonomous republic within the Spanish monarchy. A movement for total independence soon won a wide following. Spanish attempts to reimpose arbitrary rule during what was called the "Reconquista" led to a prolonged struggle. On February 12, 1818, Chile was proclaimed an independent republic. In 1970, Senator Salvador Allende Gossens, a Marxist physician and member of Chile's Socialist Party won a plurality of votes. The nationalization of U.S. and other foreign-owned companies led to increased tensions with the United States. A military coup overthrew Allende on September 11, 1973. As the armed forces bombarded the presidential palace, Allende reportedly committed suicide. A military government, led by General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, took over control of the country. The first years of the regime were marked by serious human rights violations. In the late 1980s, the regime gradually permitted greater freedom of assembly, speech, and association, to include trade union and limited political activity. In a plebiscite on October 5, 1988, General Pinochet was denied a second 8-year term as president. Chileans elected a new president and the majority of members of a two-chamber congress on December 14, 1989. In December 2005 Chileans elected their first woman president, Michelle Bachelet.

This article is partly based on a free article of the encyclopaedia Wikipedia and is subject to GNU-licence for free documentation. A list of authors is available on Wikipedia


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