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Below is a selection of highlights from our tours, click on an image to direct you to all trips in that region.

Antofagasta region, Atacama

Blue footed boobies

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Chilean landscape; Iguana; Tortoise;
South American Information

This tour visits the following countries. Please select one to view its details.

| Chile | Ecuador | Peru |

Chile
To see our current selection of tours in Chile click here.
Climate
Introduction
Ranges from hot and arid in the north to very cold in the far south. The central areas - including Santiago - have an often idyllic Mediterranean climate with a colder, wetter season (May to August). Much of the south, from Region VII down  has a very high annual rainfall.
Required Clothing
Lightweight, natural fabrics. Rainwear for the wet season. More substantial waterproofs are often needed in the south.

Key Facts
Location
West coast of South America.
Area
756,626 sq km (292,135 sq miles).
Population
16,600,000 (2012).
Population Density
21.9 per sq km.
Capital
Santiago (de Chile).
Government
Republic. Gained independence from Spain in 1810.
Geography
Chile is situated in South America, bordered to the north by Peru, to the east by Bolivia and Argentina, to the west by the Pacific Ocean and to the south by the Antarctic. The country exercises sovereignty over a number of islands off the coast, including the Juan Fernández Islands and Easter Island. Chile is 4,329km (2,690 miles) long and nowhere more than 180km (112 miles) wide. The Andes and a more westerly coastal highland range run parallel with each other for much of the country's length. The coastal range forms high, sloped cliffs into the sea from the northern to the central area. Between the ranges runs a fertile valley, except in the north where transverse ranges join the two major ones, and in the far south where the sea has broken through the coastal range to form an assortment of archipelagos and channels.Wide variations in soil and a vast difference in climate are reflected in an uneven population distribution, and in a wide range of occupations. The Atacama desert, the driest in the world, is in the northern part of the country, which is also the main mining area. The central zone is Chile predominantly agricultural, and is often referred to as the breadbasket of Chile. This is where the two-thirds of the population reside. Below Concepción, there are large tracts of forested land, although the area also has some agriculture.
Language
Spanish (official), Mapudungu (the language of the Mapuche), Rapanui (Easter Island) and Aymara.
Religion
Christian (mostly Roman Catholic).
Time
Mainland and Juan Fernández Islands: GMT - 4 (GMT - 3 from second Sunday in October to second Saturday in March).Easter Island: GMT - 6 (GMT - 5 from second Sunday in October to second Saturday in March).
Social Conventions
Chileans are often seen as more formal than others in South America. Handshaking is the customary form of greeting between men. On informal, social occasions, women usually greet friends with a single kiss on the cheek. It is very common to entertain at home and it is acceptable for invitees to give small presents as a token of thanks. Most Chileans consider themselves Catholic, and undertake baptism and first communion although they may not practise in their adult life. People believe in marriage and even if they are not practising Catholics, a wedding will still take place in a church. Co-habitation does exist between younger couples although it is not very common; however it is accepted. The divorce rate is higher than the marriage rate, although that is probably because Chile was one of the last countries in the world to make divorce legal in 2004. Chileans also adhere to Catholic death rites.
Electricity
220 volts AC, 50Hz. European plugs with two circular metal pins are used.
Head of Government
President Sebastian Piñera Echeñique since 2010.
Head of State
President Sebastian Piñera Echeñique since 2010.
Recent History
Now in its fourth successive term, the Concertación coalition has governed the country since Chile's return to democracy in 1990.Currently led by Chile's first ever woman president, Michelle Bachelet, who came to power in 2006, the country faces many familiar problems in the present era of financial instability. Prices for copper, the country's main export, have fallen sharply recently, while high inflation has sparked unrest among civil servants. Corruption scandals continue to dog certain parts of the government, in particular the Ministry of Public Works.Chile's energy needs are also a source of much debate, with pending dam projects in the south causing much concern among environmentalists.

Money
Currency
Chilean Peso (CLP; symbol CH$) = 100 centavos. The local symbol is simply $. Notes are in denominations of CH$20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000 and 1,000. Coins are in denominations of CH$500, 100, 50, 10, 5 and 1, although the latter is no longer in circulation.
Currency Exchange
Foreign exchange transactions can be conducted through commercial banks, casas de cambio, or authorised shops, restaurants, hotels and clubs. Casas de cambio are open daily 0900-1900 (Mon-Sat) and 0900-1400 (Sun).
Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs
Visa and MasterCard are commonly accepted – although Diners Club and American Express slightly less so - in towns and cities, where ATMs are also largely available. Outside of the larger, more tourist-centred towns, currency exchange can be tricky.
Traveller's Cheques
The government does not regulate the market of foreign currency in Chile, making it possible to exchange money and traveller's cheques at any casa de cambio at market-driven exchange rates. However, exchanging traveller's cheques in Chile has been reported to be problematic.
Currency Restrictions
The import and export of local and foreign currencies is unlimited, however amounts exceeding the equivalent of US$10,000 must be declared.
Banking Hours
Mon-Fri 0900-1400.
Exchange Rate Indicators
1.00 GBP = 874.05 CLP 1.00 USD = 534.04 CLP 1.00 EUR = 735.98 CLP 1.00 CAD = 503.91 CLP Currency conversion rates as of 12 December 2013

Overview
Chile’s elongated, unique shape makes it one of the world’s most geographically unique countries, and this South American nation’s cartography lives up to its reputation. From top to bottom, thousands of miles encompass arid, rain-starved desert in the north to the icy glaciers of the south. The beautiful Andes mountain range is rarely far from view, defining the country's eastern border. Such a rich natural setting provides Chile with a wealth of possibilities for fans of the great outdoors. From excellent skiing facilities, through to trekking, horse riding and white-water rafting, adventure sport opportunities in Chile will push most adrenaline junkies to their limits. The country's capital Santiago nestles in a central valley between the Andes and the Chilean Coastal Mountain range. A cosmopolitan city with its own version of Bond Street - Alonso de Cordova - it has several museums, Spanish colonial buildings and parks and taking to it by foot is simply the best way to see it. Santiago also has a wide range of accommodation and restaurants nestling on the cobbled street corners. Chile is a success story among South America's economies with many international firms choosing Santiago as their headquarters in recent years. Its copper industry has long been a mainstay of the country's income, although agriculture and wine bears some economic significance. Chile has been politically stable since 1990 following the demise of General Augusto Pinochet's 17-year dictatorship.



From www.worldtravelguide.net copyright Columbus Travel Publishing Ltd, December 2013.

PLEASE CALL US ON 020 7752 0000
 
 

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