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Chile - backbone of South America

Published: 10.6.2008
Chile is a country squeezed between big Ands Mountains and tempestous Pacific Ocean. It belongs to most beautiful countries in South America. From south to south, all types of climate are represented here - from tropical to subarctic ones.

Climate variety formed also a wide scale of coutryside types - from humid ancient forests via pleasant subtropical and mild area to dry deserts and ice-wilderness.

Central Chile


Capital of Chile became consequently one of greatest towns of South America - this region is populated with more than 4 millions of people. Local Museum de Santiago documents this development  by means of oppression of nature as well as of original inhabitants. After 2nd World War, rapid industrialisation increased an offer of working places, however, it was under total inquiry. In 1960, some commotions of village people caused big movement (migration) in suburbs of great towns, which let to establishment of so called „callampas“ - slums.

As to monuments, there are worth to visit several interesting places. Palacio de Moneda was constructed according to plans of Italian architect Joaqín Toesco in 18th century. Since middle of 19th century, it became a residential place of Presidents of Chile. Last one, who seated here, there was Carlos Ibaňez del Campo (1952-1958). After military revolution in 1973, General Pinochet managed a country from Edificio Diego Portales. Very interesting are museums - such as Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino (there are exhibited there 4500 years old proves of civilization existence) and Museo de Santiago (documentation of capital development). Mercado Central is a main City Market, offering fruit, vegetables, fish, etc. A lot of green is to be offered by O´Higgins Park (80 ha space) and smaller Parque de Las Esculturas. Cerro San Cristobal is the greatest open space in Parque Metropolitano and main important relax place for local inhabitants. You find here restaurants, bars and caffees.

Viňa del Mar is an area with best beaches in Chile. You arrive here shortly from Valparaiso. You find classical subtropical environment with palms, banana-trees, etc.

The town of Rancagua is situated in south direction of Santiago, 87 kms distant. It is a capital of Cachapoa province and O´Higgins region. José Antonio Manso de Velasco has founded it. Now, there are living here 206000 inhabitants. This town is known especially from historical point of view. In 1814, there was an encounter of Chile-fighters for independence with Spanish colonists. This conflict is known under name of Reconquista. In a distance of 40 kms  in an eastern direction, there is to be found the greatest underground mining place of copper of the world - El Tenite. The same name has local soccer stadium, place of several matches of World Soccer Championship in 1962. You can also admire local Rancagua Cathedral, together with monumental statue of O´Higgins.

An insteresting  place, worth for visit, is Universe Observatrory La Silla with 18 telescopes, 9 of them were constructed by European South Observatory (ESO). This observatory belongs to greatest of South Hemisphere. From geographical point of view, La Silla is situated in mountains in an altitude of 2400 m. In a distance of 27 kms, in south direction there is the other observatory of Las Campanas, and in distance of 100 kms to the north, further observatory, Cerro Tololo.

On border of Chile and Argentina, there is Llullaillaco (9739 m) the highest situated active volcano of the world.

North Chile

The town of Antofagasta (230 000 inhabitants) was founded in 1870. Local port is being used especially for transfer of mineral wealth of the country as - for instance, copper from Chuquicamato. Railway-lines serve for  transport of raw materials to the port.

On border of Chile with Bolivia, there is raising Parinacota volcano. It forms a part of volcanic group Nevados de Payachata. In southeast direction, there is Chungara Lake. It is one of highest placed lakes of the world, established with volcanic activity of Parinacota 8000 years ago. The town of Iquique, situated not far from the coast, is a capital of Tarapacá region. In western direction, you find Atacama Desert (181 300 km²). This desert is 15 millions years old (so, 15 times older than Death Valley in California, USA). In a town, you find a tower with Torre Reloj clock (1877), Theatro Municipal, old railway station Estacion del Ferrocarril, Museo Regional and nice beaches (Playa Cavancha). In an eastern direction, 14 kms of town of Huara, is the greatest „picture“ of man of the world - a figure of 86 m length. Historians believe that it is a work of original population of Atacama desert.

In Atacama Desert (160 kms distant from Antofagasta) you can see the greatest surfice mine of the world - Escondida. It presents 8% share of total world production. Copper makes 40% of total exportation of the country.

South Chile

Southern area is rather „more green and more European“ as far as the nature is concerned. It is characteristic with many rivers, national parks and lakes. Couple of kilometres to the north of the town of Puerto Varas, there is placed blue-green Llanquihe Lake, the second greatest lake in Chile. On surface of 860 square kilometres, there can be effected various water sports, whereas water temperature makes 10 Celsius degrees in winter, and in summer 18 Celsius degrees.

The town of Ancud, founded in 1767, as a fortress preventing local population against foreigners´penetration, is a greatest town of Chile region (17000 inhabitants). You can watch castle fortification of original fortress and other „equipment“, such as guns, etc. The part of Island Chiloe Region, forms a National Park of the same name, founded in 1962. Its extention is 43 000 ha and its average altitude is 600 m of sea level. It offers big choice of tree sorts and animals (mostly birds). Sector Chanquin (in southern part of park) is starting point for the visit. In cold south if Chile you can see many bays (fjords), peaks of mountains, covered with snow, and glaciers. You can „feel“ it on your own skin as in these areas the temperature is rather low as in north of country.

The town of Punta Arenas is often tourists´destination (capital of Magallanes y la Antartica Chilena Region). It is one of most southern situated towns of our planet. It is the third greatest town in Patagonia Region (130000 inhabitants) and 1418 kms distant from Antarctic. In a town, you cannot miss a monument statue of Hernando de Magallanes, Portuguese Seafarer in Spanish services.

Quite interesting stop could be Magdalene Island, situated in Magellan channel and region of the same name. The first sheep, which entered to Patagonia territory, arrived from Falkland Islands in 1800. The island is a home of penguins. Nearly 60000 pairs of these birds are living here, so the government founded national monument - Los Pinguinos Natural Monument.

Text: Jakub Štantejský

Photo: Google Earth

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