Context of Chile

Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country located in western South America. It is the southernmost country in the world and closest to Antarctica, stretching along a narrow strip of land between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. With an area of 756,096 square kilometers (291,930 sq mi) and a population of 17.5 million as of 2017, Chile shares borders with Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage to the south. The country also controls several Pacific islands, including Juan Fernández, Isla Salas y Gómez, Desventuradas, and Easter Island, and claims about 1,250,000 square kilometers (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica as the Chilean Antarctic Territory. The capital and largest city of Chile is Santiago, and the national language is Spanish.

Spain conquered and colonized the region in the mid-16th century, replacing Inca rule, but failed to conquer the independent Mapuche peopl...Read more

Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a country located in western South America. It is the southernmost country in the world and closest to Antarctica, stretching along a narrow strip of land between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. With an area of 756,096 square kilometers (291,930 sq mi) and a population of 17.5 million as of 2017, Chile shares borders with Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage to the south. The country also controls several Pacific islands, including Juan Fernández, Isla Salas y Gómez, Desventuradas, and Easter Island, and claims about 1,250,000 square kilometers (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica as the Chilean Antarctic Territory. The capital and largest city of Chile is Santiago, and the national language is Spanish.

Spain conquered and colonized the region in the mid-16th century, replacing Inca rule, but failed to conquer the independent Mapuche people who inhabited what is now south-central Chile. In 1818, after declaring independence from Spain, Chile emerged as a relatively stable authoritarian republic in the 1830s. During the 19th century, Chile experienced significant economic and territorial growth, putting an end to Mapuche resistance in the 1880s and gaining its current northern territory in the War of the Pacific (1879–83) by defeating Peru and Bolivia. In the 20th century, up until the 1970s, Chile underwent a process of democratization and experienced rapid population growth and urbanization, while relying increasingly on exports from copper mining to support its economy. During the 1960s and 1970s, the country was marked by severe left-right political polarization and turmoil, which culminated in the 1973 Chilean coup d'état that overthrew Salvador Allende's democratically elected left-wing government. This was followed by a 16-year right-wing military dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet, which resulted in more than 3,000 deaths or disappearances. The regime ended in 1990, following a referendum in 1988, and was succeeded by a center-left coalition, which ruled until 2010.

Chile is a developing country with a high-income economy and ranks 42nd in the Human Development Index. It is one of the most economically and socially stable nations in South America, and leads Latin America in competitiveness, per capita income, globalization, peace, and economic freedom. Chile also performs well in the region in terms of sustainability of the state and democratic development, and boasts the lowest homicide rate in the Americas, following only Canada. Chile is a founding member of the United Nations, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and the Pacific Alliance, and joined the OECD in 2010.

More about Chile

Basic information
  • Currency Chilean peso
  • Native name Chile
  • Calling code +56
  • Internet domain .cl
  • Mains voltage 220V/50Hz
  • Democracy index 8.28
Population, Area & Driving side
  • Population 19458000
  • Area 756102
  • Driving side right
  • Early history
    Lautaro, indigenous leader during Arauco War, by P. Subercaseaux

    Stone tool evidence indicates humans sporadically frequented the Monte Verde valley area as long as 18,500 years ago. About 10,000 years ago, migrating Indigenous Peoples settled in fertile valleys and coastal areas of what is present-day Chile. Settlement sites from very early human habitation include Monte Verde, Cueva del Milodón and the Pali-Aike Crater's lava tube.[1]

    ...Read more
    Early history
    Lautaro, indigenous leader during Arauco War, by P. Subercaseaux

    Stone tool evidence indicates humans sporadically frequented the Monte Verde valley area as long as 18,500 years ago. About 10,000 years ago, migrating Indigenous Peoples settled in fertile valleys and coastal areas of what is present-day Chile. Settlement sites from very early human habitation include Monte Verde, Cueva del Milodón and the Pali-Aike Crater's lava tube.[1]

    The Incas briefly extended their empire into what is now northern Chile, but the Mapuche (or Araucanians as they were known by the Spaniards) successfully resisted many attempts by the Inca Empire to subjugate them, despite their lack of state organization.[2] They fought against the Sapa Inca Tupac Yupanqui and his army. The result of the bloody three-day confrontation known as the Battle of the Maule was that the Inca conquest of the territories of Chile ended at the Maule river.[3]

    Spanish colonization
    Kingdom of Chile in 1775 according to Chilean historiography. The next year the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata was created and the territories of the cities of Mendoza and San Juan got transferred from Chile to the new entity.[4][5][6][7]

    In 1520, while attempting to circumnavigate the globe, Ferdinand Magellan discovered the southern passage now named after him (the Strait of Magellan) thus becoming the first European to set foot on what is now Chile. The next Europeans to reach Chile were Diego de Almagro and his band of Spanish conquistadors, who came from Peru in 1535 seeking gold. The Spanish encountered various cultures that supported themselves principally through slash-and-burn agriculture and hunting.[3]

    The conquest of Chile began in earnest in 1540 and was carried out by Pedro de Valdivia, one of Francisco Pizarro's lieutenants, who founded the city of Santiago on 12 February 1541. Although the Spanish did not find the extensive gold and silver they sought, they recognized the agricultural potential of Chile's central valley, and Chile became part of the Spanish Empire.[3]

    Conquest took place gradually, and the Europeans suffered repeated setbacks. A massive Mapuche insurrection that began in 1553 resulted in Valdivia's death and the destruction of many of the colony's principal settlements. Subsequent major insurrections took place in 1598 and in 1655. Each time the Mapuche and other native groups revolted, the southern border of the colony was driven northward. The abolition of slavery by the Spanish crown in 1683 was done in recognition that enslaving the Mapuche intensified resistance rather than cowing them into submission. Despite royal prohibitions, relations remained strained from continual colonialist interference.[8]

    Cut off to the north by desert, to the south by the Mapuche, to the east by the Andes Mountains, and to the west by the ocean, Chile became one of the most centralized, homogeneous colonies in Spanish America. Serving as a sort of frontier garrison, the colony found itself with the mission of forestalling encroachment by both the Mapuche and Spain's European enemies, especially the English and the Dutch. Buccaneers and pirates menaced the colony in addition to the Mapuche, as was shown by Sir Francis Drake's 1578 raid on Valparaíso, the colony's principal port. Chile hosted one of the largest standing armies in the Americas, making it one of the most militarized of the Spanish possessions, as well as a drain on the treasury of the Viceroyalty of Peru.[9]

    Pedro Lira's 1789 painting of the founding of Santiago by Pedro de Valdivia at Huelén Hill.

    The first general census was conducted by the government of Agustín de Jáuregui between 1777 and 1778; it indicated that the population consisted of 259,646 inhabitants: 73.5% of European descent, 7.9% mestizos, 8.6% indigenous peoples and 9.8% blacks. Francisco Hurtado, Governor of the province of Chiloé, conducted a census in 1784 and found the population consisted of 26,703 inhabitants, 64.4% of whom were whites and 33.5% of whom were natives. The Diocese of Concepción conducted a census in areas south of the Maule river in 1812, but did not include the indigenous population or the inhabitants of the province of Chiloé. The population is estimated at 210,567, 86.1% of whom were Spanish or of European descent, 10% of whom were indigenous and 3.7% of whom were mestizos, blacks and mulattos.[10]

    A 2021 study by Baten and Llorca-Jaña shows that regions with a relatively high share of North European migrants developed faster in terms of numeracy, even if the overall number of migrants was small. This effect might be related to externalities: the surrounding population adopted a similar behavior as the small non-European immigrant group, and new schools were created. Ironically, there might have been positive spillover effects from the educational investment made by migrants, at the same time numeracy might have been reduced by the greater inequality in these regions. However, the positive effects of immigration were apparently stronger.[11]

    Independence and nation building
    Generals José de San Martín (left) and Bernardo O'Higgins (right) during the crossing of the Andes.

    In 1808, Napoleon's enthronement of his brother Joseph as the Spanish King precipitated the drive by the colony for independence from Spain. A national junta in the name of Ferdinand – heir to the deposed king – was formed on 18 September 1810. The Government Junta of Chile proclaimed Chile an autonomous republic within the Spanish monarchy (in memory of this day, Chile celebrates its National Day on 18 September each year).

    After these events, a movement for total independence, under the command of José Miguel Carrera (one of the most renowned patriots) and his two brothers Juan José and Luis Carrera, soon gained a wider following. Spanish attempts to re-impose arbitrary rule during what was called the Reconquista led to a prolonged struggle, including infighting from Bernardo O'Higgins, who challenged Carrera's leadership.

    Intermittent warfare continued until 1817. With Carrera in prison in Argentina, O'Higgins and anti-Carrera cohort José de San Martín, hero of the Argentine War of Independence, led an army that crossed the Andes into Chile and defeated the royalists. On 12 February 1818, Chile was proclaimed an independent republic. The political revolt brought little social change, however, and 19th-century Chilean society preserved the essence of the stratified colonial social structure, which was greatly influenced by family politics and the Roman Catholic Church. A strong presidency eventually emerged, but wealthy landowners remained powerful.[3] Bernardo O'Higgins once planned to expand Chile by liberating the Philippines from Spain and incorporating the islands. In this regard he tasked the Scottish naval officer, Lord Thomas Cochrane, in a letter dated November 12, 1821, expressing his plan to conquer Guayaquil, the Galapagos Islands, and the Philippines. There were preparations, but the plan didn't push through because O' Higgins was exiled.[12]

    Chile slowly started to expand its influence and to establish its borders. By the Tantauco Treaty, the archipelago of Chiloé was incorporated in 1826. The economy began to boom due to the discovery of silver ore in Chañarcillo, and the growing trade of the port of Valparaíso, which led to conflict over maritime supremacy in the Pacific with Peru. At the same time, attempts were made to strengthen sovereignty in southern Chile intensifying penetration into Araucanía and colonizing Llanquihue with German immigrants in 1848. Through the founding of Fort Bulnes by the Schooner Ancud under the command of John Williams Wilson, the Magallanes region joined the country in 1843, while the Antofagasta region, at the time part of Bolivia, began to fill with people.

    The Battle of Iquique on 21 May 1879. The victory of Chile in the War of the Pacific allowed its expansion into new territories.

    Toward the end of the 19th century, the government in Santiago consolidated its position in the south by the Occupation of Araucanía. The Boundary treaty of 1881 between Chile and Argentina confirmed Chilean sovereignty over the Strait of Magellan. As a result of the War of the Pacific with Peru and Bolivia (1879–83), Chile expanded its territory northward by almost one-third, eliminating Bolivia's access to the Pacific, and acquired valuable nitrate deposits, the exploitation of which led to an era of national affluence. Chile had joined the stand as one of the high-income countries in South America by 1870.[13]

    The 1891 Chilean Civil War brought about a redistribution of power between the President and Congress, and Chile established a parliamentary style democracy. However, the Civil War had also been a contest between those who favored the development of local industries and powerful Chilean banking interests, particularly the House of Edwards which had strong ties to foreign investors. Soon after, the country engaged in a vastly expensive naval arms race with Argentina that nearly led to war.

    20th century
    Chile's Almirante Latorre dreadnought in 1921

    The Chilean economy partially degenerated into a system protecting the interests of a ruling oligarchy. By the 1920s, the emerging middle and working classes were powerful enough to elect a reformist president, Arturo Alessandri, whose program was frustrated by a conservative congress. In the 1920s, Marxist groups with strong popular support arose.[3]

    A military coup led by General Luis Altamirano in 1924 set off a period of political instability that lasted until 1932. Of the ten governments that held power in that period, the longest lasting was that of General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo, who briefly held power in 1925 and then again between 1927 and 1931 in what was a de facto dictatorship (although not really comparable in harshness or corruption to the type of military dictatorship that have often bedeviled the rest of Latin America).[14][15]

    By relinquishing power to a democratically elected successor, Ibáñez del Campo retained the respect of a large enough segment of the population to remain a viable politician for more than thirty years, in spite of the vague and shifting nature of his ideology. When constitutional rule was restored in 1932, a strong middle-class party, the Radicals, emerged. It became the key force in coalition governments for the next 20 years. During the period of Radical Party dominance (1932–52), the state increased its role in the economy. In 1952, voters returned Ibáñez del Campo to office for another six years. Jorge Alessandri succeeded Ibáñez del Campo in 1958, bringing Chilean conservatism back into power democratically for another term.

    The 1964 presidential election of Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei Montalva by an absolute majority initiated a period of major reform. Under the slogan "Revolution in Liberty", the Frei administration embarked on far-reaching social and economic programs, particularly in education, housing, and agrarian reform, including rural unionization of agricultural workers. By 1967, however, Frei encountered increasing opposition from leftists, who charged that his reforms were inadequate, and from conservatives, who found them excessive. At the end of his term, Frei had not fully achieved his party's ambitious goals.[3]

    Salvador Allende

    In the 1970 election, Senator Salvador Allende of the Socialist Party of Chile (then part of the "Popular Unity" coalition which included the Communists, Radicals, Social-Democrats, dissident Christian Democrats, the Popular Unitary Action Movement, and the Independent Popular Action),[3] achieved a partial majority in a plurality of votes in a three-way contest, followed by candidates Radomiro Tomic for the Christian Democrat Party and Jorge Alessandri for the Conservative Party. Allende was not elected with an absolute majority, receiving fewer than 35% of the votes.

    The Chilean Congress conducted a runoff vote between the leading candidates, Allende and former president Jorge Alessandri, and, keeping with tradition, chose Allende by a vote of 153 to 35. Frei refused to form an alliance with Alessandri to oppose Allende, on the grounds that the Christian Democrats were a workers' party and could not make common cause with the right wing.[16][17]

    An economic depression that began in 1972 was exacerbated by capital flight, plummeting private investment, and withdrawal of bank deposits in response to Allende's socialist program. Production fell and unemployment rose. Allende adopted measures including price freezes, wage increases, and tax reforms, to increase consumer spending and redistribute income downward.[18] Joint public-private public works projects helped reduce unemployment.[19][page needed] Much of the banking sector was nationalized. Many enterprises within the copper, coal, iron, nitrate, and steel industries were expropriated, nationalized, or subjected to state intervention. Industrial output increased sharply and unemployment fell during the Allende administration's first year.[19]

    Allende's program included advancement of workers' interests,[19][20] replacing the judicial system with "socialist legality",[21] nationalization of banks and forcing others to bankruptcy,[21] and strengthening "popular militias" known as MIR.[21] Started under former President Frei, the Popular Unity platform also called for nationalization of Chile's major copper mines in the form of a constitutional amendment. The measure was passed unanimously by Congress. As a result,[22] the Richard Nixon administration organized and inserted secret operatives in Chile, in order to swiftly destabilize Allende's government.[23] In addition, US financial pressure restricted international economic credit to Chile.[24]

    The economic problems were also exacerbated by Allende's public spending which was financed mostly by printing money and poor credit ratings given by commercial banks.[25] Simultaneously, opposition media, politicians, business guilds and other organizations helped to accelerate a campaign of domestic political and economical destabilization, some of which was backed by the United States.[24][26] By early 1973, inflation was out of control. On 26 May 1973, Chile's Supreme Court, which was opposed to Allende's government, unanimously denounced Allende's disruption of the legality of the nation. Although illegal under the Chilean constitution, the court supported and strengthened Pinochet's soon-to-be seizure of power.[21][27]

    Pinochet era (1973–1990)
    Fighter jets bombing the Presidential Palace of La Moneda during the Chilean coup of 1973

    A military coup overthrew Allende on 11 September 1973. As the armed forces bombarded the presidential palace, Allende apparently committed suicide.[28][29] After the coup, Henry Kissinger told U.S. president Richard Nixon that the United States had "helped" the coup.[30]

    A military junta, led by General Augusto Pinochet, took control of the country. The first years of the regime were marked by human rights violations. Chile actively participated in Operation Condor.[31] In October 1973, at least 72 people were murdered by the Caravan of Death.[32] According to the Rettig Report and Valech Commission, at least 2,115 were killed,[33] and at least 27,265[34] were tortured (including 88 children younger than 12 years old).[34] In 2011, Chile recognized an additional 9,800 victims, bringing the total number of killed, tortured or imprisoned for political reasons to 40,018.[35] At the national stadium, filled with detainees, one of those tortured and killed was internationally known poet-singer Víctor Jara (see "Music and Dance", below).

    Augusto Pinochet

    A new Constitution was approved by a controversial plebiscite on 11 September 1980, and General Pinochet became president of the republic for an eight-year term. After Pinochet obtained rule of the country, several hundred committed Chilean revolutionaries joined the Sandinista army in Nicaragua, guerrilla forces in Argentina or training camps in Cuba, Eastern Europe and Northern Africa.[36]

    In the late 1980s, largely as a result of events such as the 1982 economic collapse[37] and mass civil resistance in 1983–88, the government gradually permitted greater freedom of assembly, speech, and association, to include trade union and political activity.[38] The government launched market-oriented reforms with Hernán Büchi as Minister of Finance. Chile moved toward a free market economy that saw an increase in domestic and foreign private investment, although the copper industry and other important mineral resources were not opened to competition. In a plebiscite on 5 October 1988, Pinochet was denied a second eight-year term as president (56% against 44%). Chileans elected a new president and the majority of members of a bicameral congress on 14 December 1989. Christian Democrat Patricio Aylwin, the candidate of a coalition of 17 political parties called the Concertación, received an absolute majority of votes (55%).[39] President Aylwin served from 1990 to 1994, in what was considered a transition period.

    21st century
    Five presidents of Chile since Transition to democracy (1990–2022), celebrating the Bicentennial of Chile

    In December 1993, Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, the son of previous president Eduardo Frei Montalva, led the Concertación coalition to victory with an absolute majority of votes (58%).[40] Frei Ruiz-Tagle was succeeded in 2000 by Socialist Ricardo Lagos, who won the presidency in an unprecedented runoff election against Joaquín Lavín of the rightist Alliance for Chile.[41] In January 2006, Chileans elected their first female president, Michelle Bachelet Jeria, of the Socialist Party, defeating Sebastián Piñera, of the National Renewal party, extending the Concertación governance for another four years.[42][43] In January 2010, Chileans elected Sebastián Piñera as the first rightist President in 20 years, defeating former President Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle of the Concertación, for a four-year term succeeding Bachelet. Due to term limits, Sebastián Piñera did not stand for re-election in 2013, and his term expired in March 2014 resulting in Michelle Bachelet returning to office.[44] Sebastián Piñera succeeded Bachelet again in 2018 as the President of Chile after winning the December 2017 presidential election.[45][46]

    On 27 February 2010, Chile was struck by an 8.8 Mw earthquake, the fifth largest ever recorded at the time. More than 500 people died (most from the ensuing tsunami) and over a million people lost their homes. The earthquake was also followed by multiple aftershocks.[47] Initial damage estimates were in the range of US$15–30 billion, around 10% to 15% of Chile's real gross domestic product.[48]

    Chile achieved global recognition for the successful rescue of 33 trapped miners in 2010. On 5 August 2010, the access tunnel collapsed at the San José copper and gold mine in the Atacama Desert near Copiapó in northern Chile, trapping 33 men 700 meters (2,300 ft) below ground. A rescue effort organized by the Chilean government located the miners 17 days later. All 33 men were brought to the surface two months later on 13 October 2010 over a period of almost 24 hours, an effort that was carried on live television around the world.[49]

    View of the 2019–2022 Chilean protests towards Plaza Baquedano, Santiago

    2019–20 Chilean protests are a series of country-wide protests in response to a rise in the Santiago Metro's subway fare, the increased cost of living, privatization and inequality prevalent in the country.[50] On 15 November, most of the political parties represented in the National Congress signed an agreement to call a national referendum in April 2020 regarding the creation of a new Constitution, later postponed to October due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[51] On 25 October 2020, Chileans voted 78.28 per cent in favor of a new constitution, while 21.72 per cent rejected the change. Voter turnout was 51 percent. An election for the members of the Constitutional Convention was held in Chile between 15 and 16 May 2021.[52]

    On 19 December 2021, a leftist candidate, the 35-year-old former student protest leader Gabriel Boric, won Chile's presidential election to become the country's youngest ever leader.[53] On 11 March 2022, Boric was sworn in as president to succeed outgoing President Sebastian Pinera.[54] Out of 24 members of Gabriel Boric's female-majority Cabinet, 14 are women.[55]

    On 4 September 2022, voters rejected overwhelmingly the new constitution in the constitutional referendum, which was put forward by the constitutional convention. The rejected new constitution, supported strongly by president Boric, proved to be too radical and left-leaning for the majority of voters.[56]

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Retrieved 17 December 2009. ^ Eva Vergara (18 August 2015). Chile Recognizes 9,800 More Pinochet Victims Archived 31 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine. The Associated Press via The Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 August 2015. ^ Pamela Constable; Arturo Valenzuela (1993). A Nation of Enemies: Chile Under Pinochet. W W Norton & Company Incorporated. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-393-30985-0. ^ Klein, Naomi (1 April 2010). The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Henry Holt and Company (2007). p. 85. ISBN 978-1-4299-1948-7. Retrieved 14 July 2013. ^ Huneeus, Carlos (3 September 2009). "Political Mass Mobilization against Authoritarian Rule: Pinochet's Chile, 1983–88". In Adam Roberts; Timothy Garton Ash (eds.). Civil Resistance and Power Politics:The Experience of Non-violent Action from Gandhi to the Present. Oxford University Press. pp. 197–212. ISBN 978-0-19-161917-5. Retrieved 14 July 2013. ^ Christian, Shirley (16 December 1989). "Man in the News: Patricio Aylwin; A Moderate Leads Chile". The New York Times. ^ "Chile elects new leader Late president's son wins big". 12 December 1993. Archived from the original on 26 May 2008. Retrieved 14 July 2013. ^ "Moderate socialist Lagos wins Chilean presidential election". CNN. 16 January 2000. Archived from the original on 6 May 2008. ^ "Chile elects first woman president". NBC News. ^ Reel, Monte (12 March 2006). "Bachelet Sworn in As Chile's President". The Washington Post. ^ "Michelle Bachelet sworn in as Chile's president". BBC News. 11 March 2014. Archived from the original on 12 March 2014. Retrieved 12 August 2021. ^ "Chile election: Conservative Piñera elected president". BBC News. 18 December 2017. Archived from the original on 18 December 2017. Retrieved 12 August 2021. ^ "Pinera, a conservative billionaire, is sworn in as president of Chile". Yahoo! News. Agence France Presse. 11 March 2018. Archived from the original on 1 August 2021. Retrieved 12 August 2021. ^ "US ready to help Chile: Obama". The Australia Times. Archived from the original on 27 April 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2010. ^ More Quakes Shake Chile's Infrastructure, Adam Figman, Contract, 1 March 2010 Archived 14 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine ^ "Background Note: Chile". Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, United States Department of State. 16 December 2011. Retrieved 19 March 2012. ^ Naomi Larsson (26 October 2019). "Chile protests: More than one million bring Santiago to a halt". Al Jazeera. ^ Sandra Cuffe (19 November 2019). "One month on: Protests in Chile persist despite gov't concessions". Al Jazeera. ^ "Presidente Piñera promulga reforma que posterga elecciones al 15 y 16 de mayo". El Mostrador (in Spanish). 6 April 2021. Retrieved 7 April 2021. ^ "Leftist Gabriel Boric to become Chile's youngest ever president". BBC News. 20 December 2021. ^ "Gabriel Boric, 36, sworn in as president to herald new era for Chile". the Guardian. 11 March 2022. ^ "Chile's president-elect names progressive, majority-women cabinet". the Guardian. 21 January 2022. ^ "Chile constitution: Voters overwhelmingly reject radical change". BBC News. 5 September 2022.
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Stay safe
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    The Atacama Desert is a prime place for astronomical observations.
    Chile offers some pretty extreme hiking and climbing experiences....Read more
    Stay safe
    The Atacama Desert is a prime place for astronomical observations.
    Chile offers some pretty extreme hiking and climbing experiences. If you're interested, make sure to come prepared.
    Marking of tsunami evacuation routes is clear and present in all coastal communities.
    Volcano activity warning sign
    Caution  Note: Since 2019, there have been violent protests in several major Chilean cities. Exercise caution in large cities. (Information last updated 28 May 2021)

    Like most big cities in South America, Santiago suffers from a high rate of pickpocketing and muggings. It's advisable not to travel in the downtown area wearing expensive-looking jewelry or watches, even during the day. Stay alert and be especially careful in all crowded areas in Santiago. It is recommended to wear your backpack at the front of your body in crowded areas. Laptops and the newest mobile phones can be lucrative for thieves, so remember to be on your guard once using them in public places.

    For tourists or other "beginners" lacking experience in over-the-counter transactions with hard Chilean currency, you can reduce the chance of your wallet getting stolen by following some advice:

    Separate coins and bills. Coins are frequently used when paying for public transport (except in Santiago buses, where you need to board with the Bip card), newspapers or snacks, store them in a small handbag so that your bills will remain concealed. 1000-, 2000- and 5000-peso notes should be easily accessible. Notes of higher value should be stored in another, more secure place in your wallet so you don't accidentally pay 10,000 pesos instead of 1000, for example. All notes have different sizes and they all are very differently colored and designed. Do not reach for your wallet until the vendor tells you the price.

    Chilean Carabineros (National Police) are trustworthy: call 133 from any phone if you need emergency assistance. Some municipalities (such as Santiago or Las Condes) have private guards; however, they usually don't speak English.

    Do not try to bribe a carabinero, since it will get you into serious trouble! Unlike other South American police corps, Chilean Carabineros are very proud and honest, and bribery would be a serious offence against their creed.

    Regarding driving conditions: Chilean drivers tend to be not as erratic and volatile as those in neighboring countries.

    Some parts of Chile are still racially homogeneous and locals will be curious if they see a person who is either Asian or black. Being of Middle Eastern origin and wanting to blend in amongst Chileans, getting dressed as a local will help you, though naturally, if you speak with a foreign accent, people will pick up on that right away. Cities like Santiago, Viña del Mar or Antofagasta have become more multicultural in the last few years with immigrants from Haiti, Colombia, China, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, so being a foreigner in those places will not be met with curiosity. Some Chileans who have a low opinion of foreigners might yell "negro" (Spanish for black) or "chino" (Spanish for Chinese), but only report to Carabineros if you are physically assaulted by someone. Racist attacks are infrequent in general but the Carabineros know how to deal with such crimes, so don't hesitate to report if something happens.

    Immigration from countries where Islam is the state religion is very small compared to countries in Europe. There are mosques in the country, but the average Chilean is not used to seeing a woman in a hijab or burqa, so many will stare or make a comment. There have been reports of verbal harassment by Chileans of women who are dressed traditionally, and some have even reported boys or men dragging them by the hijab. Though this is infrequent, if it happens, report it to the police. Some people will also defend your right to be dressed with a hijab or burqa, so do not assume that all Chileans are Islamophobic. There is a sizeable Palestinian community, but most of them are Christians.

    Be careful when taking photos in areas with military buildings or where you see soldiers guarding an entrance for example. They have the right to arrest and confiscate your camera. Be prepared to spend time answering questions and having every single photo examined by a soldier or marine. You will avoid imprisonment due to the fact that marines/ soldiers will understand that you did not understand the warnings being a foreign tourist and interrogation is done because the soldiers are expected to do that when such situation occurs. But it's better to avoid such situation and instead ask if you can take a photo. Some marines or soldiers might speak little English, otherwise point at an object and say "si?", while showing your camera so they understand that you want to take a photo. If they reply with a "no", then it's wise to respect their decision.

    Stay out of political protests in any city, especially Santiago. The student protest that shocked the country during 2011 ended with violence. If you want to watch, then stay in a safe area and avoid getting close. The Carabineros are always on the alert as soon as there is a political demonstration and some people join only because they want to cause violence. Also avoid celebrations of sports like Chile winning a tournament for example, since they can end in violence.

    If you go out to bars or clubs, be careful when ordering a drink. If you want to be safe, order beer in a bottle or pay for a bottle of wine or hard liquor if possible. Problems with spiked drinks have increased so make sure to always have an eye on your drink when ordering. Places for young people or students tend to have cheap drinks, wine and beer which should be avoided altogether since they are poorly made and can be dangerous for you. Instead, order well known brands like Cristal or Casillero del Diablo in a bar or nightclub.

    Walking in the streets in many cities, you will see a lot of stray dogs. They are probably carrying diseases so avoid touching them. They are everywhere and places popular with tourists are full of stray dogs. Don't get involved in an argument if you see local people being aggressive to the stray dogs. They see them every day and will not take kindly to a tourist who has only been in Chile for a couple of days, having an opinion on how to treat the dogs that they feel are aggressive towards the local people. In addition to stray dogs in the cities, in rural areas many places and farms have dogs, but they generally do not tend to leave their premises, which can still happen and they might block your way. In either case, if you feel a dog is getting too close for any reason, even if it looks harmless, pick up one, two or three stones, and most dogs will understand the gesture, back down and disappear into the distance. If this does not help and a dog is running towards you aggressively barking, use the stones for your defence.

    Located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, all of Chile is prone to earthquakes and tsunamis.

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