Republic of Chile
UTC -3 & -5
Chile is a long, narrow country stretching along South America’s western edge with more than 6000 kilometer of Pacific Ocean coastline. Bordered by Peru in the north, Bolivia in the north-east and Argentina in the east. Today, Chile is one of South America’s most stable and healthy nations.
Chile has something for everyone. Go skiing in the Andes, surf big waves in the Pacific Ocean or go on a nice trek to one of the world’s largest volcanoes. In this diverse country you can also find, Algarobbo City, the biggest pool in the world and the Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth, where it has never rained before. Here you will also find amazingly cute penguins and other wildlife.
Argentina’s climate varies from region to region due to the country’s long and narrow shape. Hot temperatures are rare except for in the north-central, at a certain distance from the sea. Best time to go here would be in the summer. Summer runs from December to January and winter from June to August. There’s a dry desert climate in the north with a maximum temperature of 32°C during the summer, and that can easily drop just below 0°C in the winter.
The central region of Chile has a Mediterranean feel with with it’s warm, dry summers, cool, wet winter and a wet season between May and August. However the influence of the sea makes the summer a bit cool, with temperatures around 20°C. The sea heats up Chile here during the winter, with an average temperature of 12°C.
Southern Chile has a cool climate that is highly affected by the ocean. The winter is rainy, as well as the summer. Westerly facing winds here, blow constantly and the temperature is colder than the rest of the country. Temperatures usually vary between 16°C to 20°C during summer and 5°C to 10°C in the winter.
The Chilean culture is a mix between elements from the spanish colonial time and the indigenous people, mostly Mapuche, which were the first people in Chile. Today they make up about 9 % of the total population. The national flag and the national anthem are today the most important symbols for the country, The national holiday on the 18th of September, celebrates their declaration of independence from Spain, in 1810. During this day they visit fondas (traditional palm-roofed shelters, dance their national dance “Cueca”, drink Chilean red wine and eat empanadas, which are meat pastries.
Chile is the most modern country in Latin America and has a relatively low level of poverty. However, they still constantly think and act in terms of traditional class divisions. Upper, middle and lower classes, living largely isolated from each other in their own neighbourhoods. Entrance to university is based on the points obtained after a single national academic test. Getting an academical degree or a good job does not automatically guarantee social acceptance among the middle and upper classes.
Football is the most famous sport in the country, no matter the status of your socioeconomic background. Rodeo is the second most famous sport here, with two riders and horses on each team, the goal is to stop the calf and pin him up against gigantic cushions. However skiing in the Andean Mountains or surfing in the Pacific Ocean is pretty common as well. In the south basketball is a common sport as it can be played all year around.
Today the Chilean cuisine is a mix of many europeans countries like Spain, Italy, Germany and their very own Indigenous Mapuche culture, as well as their own local ingredients. The long coastline adds an array of seafood products to the Chilean cuisine. However, chicken and beef is still the most common meats. They also cook with lots of rice, potatoes, fresh fruit and vegetable from the fields of Central Chile. Since Chile is one of the biggest producers of wine in the world, the Chileans love to have a glass of high quality, local red wine with their dinner.
The big fast food chains exist in most countries, however Chile has their own “traditional” fast food. For example the hot dog. As well as mustard and ketchup, they like to top their hot dog with mashed avocado, chopped tomatoes, mayonnaise or sauerkraut, finely cut cabbage.
Taking the bus is the main vehicle for traveling long distances. Keep in mind that it’s 70 hours between Arica in the north, to Punta Arenas in the south. There are semi-deca (reclining seat) and deca (sleeper) buses for you to take for longer trips. Buses run quite cheap here, just state your destination on-boarding and the driver will tell you the fare and give you a ticket. Buses tend to be quicker than the train and cheaper, with just as much comfort, if not even more. Therefore bus travel is highly recommended.
Taxis are generally a safe way to travel in Chile, provided you use your common sense, but they aren’t cheap. Typical rates are 700 pesos per kilometer. Make sure to check that the taximeter is running and that the driver isn’t going around in circles to make money on you. For longer trips you can ask for the price beforehand and try to negotiate the price. Collectivos are taxis that run on a fixed route, like the buses. You’ll pay a lot less than a regular taxi, but you should expect to be packed in with quite a few other travelers. Still, they can be a good way to get around and save some money too.
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