Chile visitor info

View of lake in front of Torres del Paine

Area: 756,626 Km2

Literacy: (1992) 94.6%

Population: (2002) 15.2m

The currency is the Chilean peso ($ or CLP). The exchange rate with the dollar/euro should be inquired into on the date of travel. Currency exchange can be carried out easily in banks or exchange bureaus and no special documentation is necessary.

Bills are available in $1.000, $2.000, $5.000, $10.000 y $20.000
Coins in $1, $5, $10, $50, $100 y $500.

System of Government
The current constitution dates from 1980. The State is separated in to three powers: Executive Power, vested in the President of the Republic, Legislative Power shared by the House of Representatives and the Senate; and Judicial Power. The current president of Chile is Michelle Bachelet Jería (Socialist Party)

Density: 20.4 inhabitants per km.
Average age: 30.04 years.
Language: Spanish, and some languages originating as Mapudungún (Mapuche), Quechua and Rapa Nui
Religion: 76.7% Catholic-13.25% Evangelicals - 10.05% Other

Language: The official language is Spanish.

From the heights of the Andes to the treacherous seas around cape horn, Chile is not lacking in geographic diversity. The slender country, which streches over 4,300 km and never reaches a width over 240 km, is home to arid deserts, mountains, river valleys, and the Strait of Magellan.

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 (2700 mi.) along the southwestern coast of South America, a distance roughly the same as San Francisco to New York, or Moscow to Lisbon. 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 contains more than fifty active volcanic peaks. The western border is 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 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 the ocean fades into the baffling archipelago maze 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 centre of the country, however, is a long and expansive river valley, a five hundred mile corridor occupied in the north by vineyards and 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 is the homeland of Chile's indigenous peoples, the Araucarias. Also part of Chile is two notable Pacific islands - the Juan Fernandez Islands and the famous Easter Island, both are administered as national parks. The Juan Fernandez Islands are located about 670 km off the Chilean coast, while Easter Island is situated at a 3700 km distance.

In the same way that Chile’s territory is very varied so is its climate which is determined by its latitude, its proximity to the sea and its altitude.

Infrequent rainfall, average temperature of 16°C, which goes down as you move nearer the Andes mountain range.

The average temperature is 15°C, with a slightly increased rainfall that averages 113mm.

Central South: The rain intensifies in the winter, with an average of 360mm and an average temperature of 14°C.

South: Average temperatures of 12°C and an increased level of rainfall of between 943 and 2.488mm.

Far South: The average temperature is 9°C and rainfall is 2.820 mm.

Electricity: Supply: 220 V, 50Hz

Inoculations for Chile are not prescribed. The standard of hygiene is high, one of the highest in Latin America. We advise to take some care with drinking water from the tap (especially in smaller towns) and when eating unwashed fruits and vegetables.

Credit Cards and Traveler's Checks
The most generally accepted credit cards are Visa, MasterCard, Diners, and to a lesser extent, American Express. Traveler's cheeks are widely accepted.

Loss of Credit Cards in Chile
Visa International .................631-7003
MasterCard International .......631-7003
Diners International ..............232-0000
American Express .................800-201022

Banking Hours
Banks attend Monday to Friday from 9:00 to 14.00
Currency changers open Monday to Friday from 9.00 to 14.00 and 15.00 to 18.00.

National Holidays
New Year (1st January), Holy Week (end of March or April), Labour Day (1st May), Naval Battle of lquique (21st May), Corpus Christi (22nd June), St Peter and St Paul (29th June), Assumption of the Virgin (15th August), National Reconciliation Day (1st Monday in September), Independence Day (18th September), Army Day (19th September), (Hispanic) Columbus Day (12th October), All Saints' Day (1st November), Immaculate Conception (8th December), Christmas (25th December).

Tourist Information
Office of the National Tourist Service, SERNATUR (Av.Providencia 1550, Santiago, between Metro stations Manuel Montt and Pedro de Valdivia. It attends Monday to Friday, from 9.30 to 20.00, and on Saturdays and Sundays, from 9.30 to 18.30. Telephone numbers: 731 -83361 731 -8337. There is another SERNATUR office at Santiago's Arturo Merino Benitez Airport, telephone 601-9320. It attends Monday to Sunday from 8.15 to 21.30.

Shops in Santiago are open from 10.00 to 20.00. Malls and supermarkets close at 21.00.

10% is considered an adequete tip. One usually tips bell hops, restuarants, and other service workers. Tipping is not generally expected for taxi services.

There is a wide network of public trans- port in the capital, with taxis, buses and the Metro (Metropolitan Railway). For journeys within the country there are local airlines and excellent long-distance buses from the capital to the vast majority of destinations. The bus terminals are: Terminal Santiago, tel. 779-1385 (buses for the south and international routes), Terminal Alameda, tel. 778-0808 (the coast, north and south), San Borja, tel. 776-0645, 776-1025 (the north and area around Santiago), Terminal Los Héroes, tel. 696-9250(mainly the north).