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Legend has it that when God finished creating the world, he took all the leftover scraps of the most diverse and beautiful pieces of landscape and nature and patched them together to create Chile.
Spanning 2,604 miles from north to south, Chile encompasses an extraordinary diversity of terrain and climates. It is the worlds thinnest and longest country when these two factors are considered together, no more than 115 miles wide at any point.
Within its boundaries are the driest desert in the world - the Atacama – in the far north; the lush valleys and fertile farmland of the Central Region; golden Pacific beaches; the jagged spine of the snowcapped Andes with some of the highest peaks in the western hemisphere; the Lake District with its thick rainforest, volcanoes, hot springs and lakes; the far south with the 1,000-year-old glacier fields, granite peaks, jewel-toned lakes, and pampa of Patagonia; to the frozen wonderland of Antarctica.
Within Chilean territory are several of the most enigmatic islands in the world: Easter Island (Rapa Nui), with its mysterious moai sculptures and vibrant culture; Robinson Crusoe Island, so-called for Alexander Selkirk who lived as a castaway on the island and inspired the well-known novel; and Chiloé, home to a unique culture centered on rich folkloric traditions and mysticism, and dotted with dozens of lovely antique Jesuit churches that are considered some of the oldest wooden structures in the world.
Food and wine lovers are well catered to in Chile. Typical Chilean food tends to be prepared with more subtle spices than Latin cuisines, but with a huge variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, and seafood. Chile’s wineries are producing varieties that are winning international awards, and wineries are opening their doors to tourists with slick tasting facilities, beautiful hotels and gourmet restaurants. Wine valleys are also concentrated around picturesque colonial villages ideal for photography.
Spanish is the official language in Chile. Only minority indigenous groups maintain their original languages such as Mapudungún (Mapuches) or Rapa Nui (Easter Islanders). In the hospitality and tourism industry, most personnel speak English. There has been a presidential democracy in Chile since 1990 and the country’s natural borders are the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Andes Mountains to the east, sharing borders to the north with Peru, to the northeast with Bolivia and to the east with Argentina.
Chile is a geographical extravaganza where from the country’s northern border south to La Serena, the coastal desert and high-altitude desert encompass a breathtaking array of landscapes.
The Central region, from La Serena to Los Angeles has attractions which range from snow-capped mountains (la cordillera de los Andes) to lovely beach resorts (Valpariaso and Viña del mar) and fertile green valleys. Around Santiago and even within city limits are wine-growing valleys that produce one of Chile’s most famous exports, while farther off shore are the exotic destinations Easter Island and Robinson Crusoe Island.
The Lake District from Los Angeles to Puerto Montt is inundated with verdant forests, volcanoes, rivers and lakes, offering a natural setting and numerous options for sports and adventure.
The Patagonian region that stretches from Puerto Montt to Antarctica is one of the most captivating regions for foreign travellers to visit, and given its extreme climate and terrain, extraordinary beauty, virgin forests, islands, fjords and glaciers, it offers unparalleled outdoor adventure to those who make the trip deep south.
A visit to the most remote of the seven continents - Antarctica, the frozen wonderland - is an experience of a lifetime. Frigid ice and snow, crisp blue skies are the norm, yet despite the rigorous cold Antarctica is home to a rich ecosystem including Wedell seals, sea elephants, seven species of penguins, blue whales, orcas and a wide variety of sea birds.