Chile – Long and Narrow Land
The Republic of Chile stretches for nearly 4,350 kilometers along the west coast of South America, but its average width is only 180 kilometers. Its total area is 756,950 square kilometers. Chile claims a piece of Antarctica. It also controls several islands in the South Pacific, including Easter Island. Easter Island is situated more than 3,218 kilometers west of the mainland. It is volcanic land mass with an area of 117 kilometers.
Chile borders the South Pacific Ocean, and the curved southernmost portion of its coast reaches to the Atlantic Ocean at the Strait of Magellan.
Santiago is the capital of the country.
Most Chileans are mestizos with both Spanish and American Indian roots.
Most of the people speak Spanish and are Roman Catholic.
The country produces and sells food products, metals, chemicals, and paper. Chile is the world’s leading producer of copper. Fishing, agriculture, and livestock have been among the most important economic activities. Many people raise llamas and alpacas for wool.
Chile faces many kinds of natural disasters, including volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and tsunamis. In the winter there are fierce storms and floods. Summer often brings drought.
In 1536 the Spanish arrived in what is now Chile. The American Indians fought against the settlers for about 350 years. In 1818 Chile became independent.
In 1973 the military overthrew President Salvador Allende and General Augusto Pinochet took power. Elections in 1989 returned Chile to civilian rule.
– The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is perhaps the driest place on Earth.
– Ojos del Salado is the highest point (6,880 m).
– Loa is the longest river (442 km).
– General Carrera is the largest lake (2,240 sq km).
– The Andes Mountains reach their greatest elevations in Chile, where they span nearly the entire length of the country.
– Cave of the Milodon National Park features a 30-meter-deep cave. The milodon is a mythical prehistoric animal believed to have been a plant-eating mammal. Archaeologists believe ancient humans lived in these caves thousands of years ago.
– The Day of the Motherland (Fiestas Patrias) is the main holiday. Chileans are great patriots. It is celebrated on September 18 and it is the only day of the year, when the authorities officially allowed drinking in public places.
– The Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral was a winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. She is depicted on the 5000 pesos banknote.
– Chile is the only country in Latin America, where there are no poisonous snakes.
– Penguins and fur seals live in the south of Chile.