THE SPANISH LANGUAGE
is the second most spoken language in the world due to the number of speakers who claim it as their native tongue (after Mandarin Chinese). It is spoken as a first and second language amongst 450 and 500 million people. It is the third most spoken language as a first or second language after Mandarin Chinese and English combined, and is the mother tongue to 400 million people worldwide... Read more
CHILE Country Profile
Chile, is a country in South America occupying a long and narrow coastal strip wedged between the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The Pacific forms the country's entire western border, with Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage at the country's southernmost tip.
.: Total: 756,950 km² (38th) 292,183 sq mi
.: Water (%): 1.07
.: First Nat. Gov. Junta: September 18, 1810
.: Declared: February 12, 1818
.: Recognised: April 25, 1844
.: June 2006 census: 16,432,674 (60th)
.: 2002 census: 15,116,435
.: Density: 21/km² (184th) 54/sq mi
Often overlooked, this ribbon like country could quite possible be one of South America’s best kept secrets.
With its rapid ascent in taking its place among the leading developing countries of the world, Chile has distinguished itself among its fellow neighboring countries with its stability and strong economic and political ties with Europe and Asia. With this rapid growth Chile has still been able to maintain the fascinating and magical culture that Latin America is renown for.
A land rich with diversity, from the Northern dry desert starkness, to the monstrous snow capped volcanoes; the Chilean Lake districts of rolling hills and farmlands- home of the traditional Mapuche, a strong and weathered people that withstood and resisted the onslaught of the Spaniards. The Southern frontier, the ends of the world, surviving the ravishes of the savage Antarctic storms; the endless ice fields of breathtaking blues, rigid looming glaciers, groaning with the tides of times, the Earth beneath your feet shaking with its moving anticipation.
A rich land riddled with myriads of natural wonders and many mysteries buried deep, just waiting to be uncovered.
PEOPLE AND CULTURE CHILE
The population of Chile is made up of Mestizos, persons of mixed Spanish and Native American ancestry, who make up for 93 percent of the current population. Only 3 percent consists of pure Native American, mainly Araucanians who are concentrated in the southern region; and the other 2 percent of the population is made up of unmixed European race. Most of the population lives in urban centers, and more than one-third of the people live in the capital city of Santiago. Communities both in the south and in the northern desert are generally isolated and separated by vast, virtually unpopulated stretches.
The country of Chile has two lively and contrasting cultures: the cosmopolitan culture of the affluent urban population, and the popular culture of the peasants, which is mainly Spanish but contains traces of Araucanian heritage. The culture of peasants is heavily reflected in their music and dance. The country also has a flourishing literary tradition and has produced two Nobel Prize winners in literature, Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda, both poets.
GEOGRAPHY AND ENVIRONMENT CHILE
For anyone who has ever been fascinated by geography, the long, impossibly thin line of Chile has always produced a tiny moment of astonishment. Chile stretches over 4,300 km (2,700 mi) along the southwestern coast of South America, a distance roughly the same as that from San Francisco to New York, or Edinburgh to Baghdad. At the same time, its width never exceeds 240 km (150 mi), making the country more than eighteen times longer than its widest point.
The most obvious factor in Chile's remarkable slenderness is the massive, virtually impassable wall of the Andes, a mountain range that is still rising and that contains more than fifty active volcanic peaks. The western border is of course the Pacific Ocean, but it is a misconception to picture Chile as nothing more than the steep western slope of the Andean peaks. All along its length Chile is marked by a narrow depression between the mountains and the sea. To the north the land rises and becomes more arid, until one reaches the forbidding Atacama Desert, one of the most inhospitable regions on earth. To the south just the opposite transformation takes place: the land falls away, and the region between mountains and ocean fades into the baffling maze of small islands that terminates in Chilean Patagonia.
Chile's southern extremity is marked by Cape Horn, a treacherous headland surrounded by almost continuously storm-tossed seas and passable only through the foggy stillness of the Strait of Magellan.In the center of the country, however, is a long and expansive river valley, a five hundred mile corridor occupied in the north by vineyards and great farms and in the south by primeval forests and enchanting lakes. Santiago, the capital, anchors the northern and more prosperous section of the central valley. The lush Lake District to the south, however, is the homeland of Chile's indigenous peoples, the Araucanians.
Also part of Chile are two notable Pacific possessions-the Juan Fernandez Islands and the famous Easter Island, both of which are administered as national parks. The Juan Fernandez islands are located about 670 km off the Chilean coast, while Easter Island is situated 3700 km distant.
Chile's climate is as diverse as its geography. Aside from the obviously extreme climatic conditions of the Andes an the Atacama, however, the country enjoys a comfortable temperate climate.
Today Chile is quickly becoming one of South America's most developed nations. Combine this fact along with a wonderful tradition of hospitality offered by Chileans, and you have an excellent place to visit and to learn Spanish.
Most Chileans are mestizos, although you can still find pure blooded Mapuche Indians, and direct German and Swiss descendants for example. As a matter of fact, one of the first things a traveler will notice is that many of the cities, and the manners of many Chileans have a distinctive European feel to them. For the traveler accustomed to places such as Bolivia or Peru, this will come as somewhat of a surprise.
As a visitor, you have a wonderful array of options and activities available to you. From a day to day standpoint, cities such as Santiago offer a comfortable place to stay, great nightlife, excellent transportation and services, colonial architecture, shopping, plus much more.
While the cities are nice, we feel that the true magic of Chile begins when you start exploring the countryside. To the north, one can explore the vast mountains and deserts that border Peru and Bolivia. It is interesting to note that there are parts of the Atacama Desert that have never recorded any precipitation! Once in this northern region, many travelers take the opportunity to cross the border and visit places such as La Paz or Sucre in Bolivia, or travel further north to visit Cusco and Machu Picchu in Peru.
In the mountains just outside of Santiago, one can enjoy some of the finest skiing found anywhere in the world. The slopes of some of the ski resort are within 1-2 hours of downtown Santiago. To the south of the capital lies the Maipo Valley, home to many of the finest wineries in the country. Take the time to get down and visit some of these wineries. Chilean wines are quickly gaining world wide recognition, and rightly so!
As you head further south, you enter the beautiful Lake District. Due to continual precipitation, the landscape is green. It is in this region where you will find most of the active volcanoes of Chile plus numerous lakes, including the fourth largest lake in South America. The scenery is absolutely beautiful!
Finally as you head further south, you enter some of the most inaccessible regions of Chile. This section of the country is a maze of islands, fjords, rivers, and lakes. In recent years, this area has become particularly popular with fisherman looking to fish some of the best trout lakes and streams in the world! It is also in this region where you find high mountain areas covered with many different glaciers. Of particular note in this region is the Parque Nacional Torres de Paine.
WEATHER AND CLIMATE CHILE
Due to Chile’s geographically diverse regions, it offers a unique diversity of climates. The north of Chile is one the driest regions of the world. This region rarely sees rain, but despite this, between April and December, the weather is quite often cool and overcast. On average, the daily max. temp for July is 17°C (63°F) and in March 28°C (82°F).
Central Chile is a more temperate climate, boasting of warm, near rainless Summers, with an average daily temperature of 29°C (85°F) from December through to February. Winters in Central Chile are mild with an average daily temperature of 14°C (58°F)- rainfall is heaviest in these months but still quite moderate.
Southern Chile is a dramatic contrast to its northern counterparts with a wet and rainy climate all year round. During the winter, (apart from the coastal sea areas), the South is covered in snow and ice, making many roads impassable and with temperatures dropping well below zero. The Summer months are calmer, but still quite chilly with a daily max. average temperature of 15°C (59°F).
The unit of currency in Chile is Pesos. Notes come in denominations of1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000 and 20,000 Pesos. Coin denominations are 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 Pesos.