Introduction to Chile

Tuesday, February 20th, 2007 at 12:00 am

Chile countryChile is a country located in South America easily distinguished by its unique shape. The country is the long and narrow coastal strip of land that covers most of the western South American continent and is tucked right in between the imposing Andes mountains and the wide Pacific Ocean.

The Pacific Ocean serves the country’s entire western border while its Eastern borders are shared with Peru in the north, Bolivia in the northeast, and Argentina to the east.

Chile stretches over 4,600 kilometers from north to south, but only 430 kilometers at its widest point from east to west. This unique shape makes the country more than ten times longer than its widest point. Chile is also considered as the longest country in the world. It is a very unique country that also covers a remarkable variety of landscapes as well as a wealth of resources.

The Atacama desert located in the north contains a wealth of valuable minerals, notable of which are copper and nitrates. The Central Valley, which includes Chile’s capital of Santiago, dominates the country in terms of population density and agricultural resources. The southern part of of the country on the other hand is known for its rich forests, grazing lands, volcanoes and lakes. The southern coast of Chile is a maze of waterways. In this part, you may be able to find numerous inlets, canals, and twisting peninsulas that are so common in this region along with its islands.

A notable feature of Chile’s remarkable slenderness is the massive, virtually impenetrable wall provided by the majestic Andes, a mountain range that is still rising and that contains about fifty or more active volcanic peaks in its territory. The Pacific Ocean is found on the country’s western border. And because of its narrow and slender shape on the South American continent, it has continuously become a misconception to picture Chile as nothing more than just the steep western slope of the Andean peaks.

Chile is also a land of varied terrain. All along its length Chile is seen as a narrow depression between the mountains and the sea. Going north, the land rises and becomes a drier landscape until one reaches the unpleasant Atacama Desert, probably known as one of the most inhospitable regions ever to be found on earth.

Going south however, one can see an opposite transformation taking place. The land begins to fall away, and the region found between the mountain ranges and the ocean fades into the baffling geographic maze. The southern tip of Chile is marked by Cape Horn, a treacherous piece of headland being continuously battered by storm-tossed seas and only be reached by way of the narrow Strait of Magellan. But that is just a small part of what Chile can offer.

In the center of the country, one can find a long and broad river valley which stretches into a five hundred mile corridor occupied in the north by vineyards and great farms and in the south by primeval forests and enchanting lakes. Nowhere else in Chile can such mixture of the wild terrain and well-manicured farms go well together.

Santiago, the capital of Chile, is the point of focus in the northern and more prosperous section of the central valley. The lush Lake District to the south becomes the homeland of one of Chile’s indigenous peoples, the Araucanians. Chile’s climate is also as diverse as its unique geography. Extreme climatic conditions are prevalent in the areas comprising the Andes and the Atacama Desert. But most of the remaining areas of the country enjoys a more comfortable temperate climate.