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Some of the early inhabitants of Chile were the Araucanians, the largest group of which were the Mapuche. In the Patagonia region of southern Chile, the major native tribe were the Teheulches. While the Incas dominated much of South America, the empire only extended into northern Chile, as the Mapuche fought them off in the 15th century.
During the greater Spanish American independence movement, Chile divided into the pro-independence Criollos and the royalists, who wished to remain under the Spanish Empire. Though independence was declared in 1818, the struggle lasted much longer. In 1821, the Spaniards were expelled, though they did not surrender completely until 1826. Spain finally recognized Chile as independent in 1840.
Boundary disputes between Chile and Argentina, ending with a treaty in 1881, as well as the War of the Pacific (involving Peru and Bolivia) ending in 1883, resulted in the expansion of Chile's territory. In 1891, Chile faced civil war, ending in the formation of a parliamentary democracy in the country. Chile has since faced bouts of instability, with a 1924 coup, with the rocky government lasting several years, and spanning ten governments from then until 1932. The Chilean Socialist Party came to power in the hotly contested 1970 election, with Salvador Allende winning a runoff election. Allende, facing civil unrest and an attempted military coup, committed suicide in 1973, and a junta led by Augusto Pinochet took control. Many Chileans were killed during the regime, and the economy suffered. Chile transitioned into a democratic country with the election of a new president in 1989.
Neighboring Countries :
Chile shares borders with Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina.
- Santiago (capital)
Chile covers a a narrow coastal region in southwestern South America, only 350 kilometers (217 miles) across at its widest. Chile's territory also includes Easter Island and Sala y Gomez Island. Chile also claims parts of Antarctica, but these are disputed.
Chile's most notable feature is its long coastline, which lies along the Pacific Ocean and curves around to the South Atlantic. Northern Chile's main geographic feature is the Atacama Desert. Central Chile includes the central valley and the Cordillera de Nahuelbuta range. Southern Chile is characterized by forests, volcanoes, and lakes, as well as fjords and islands along its coast. In eastern Chile, the Andes Mountains dominate the landscape. The highest point in the country is Ojos del Salado, which stands 6,893 meters (22,615 feet) above sea level.
The capital, Santiago, is a popular destination for visitors, home to the Central Market, La Moneda Palace and the underground cultural center below it, and Parque Metropolitano, which offers great views of the city and a funicular. Valparaiso in Central Chile is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with colorful architecture set in the hills, offering cultural experiences, nightlife, and general ambiance.
Chile is perhaps best known for its scenic destinations, with the grand Andes Mountains, which are great for climbing, or El Colorado's ski resorts, and the beautiful beaches. The top surf spot is at Pichilemu, while the islands of Chiloe and Robinson Crusoe are other scenic spots, along with Torres del Paine National Park.
Chile's main international airport is Arturo Merino Benitez Interational, outside of Santiago, which is served by destinations in Europe, the Americas, and Oceania. Other international airports can be found in Concepcion, Punta Arenas, and Iquique, among others. To reach Easter Island, flights are available from Santiago, Lima, and Papeete, to Mataveri International Airport.
Bus is a potential way to get into and around the country, though roads from Peru and Bolivia are not well maintained and closed in the winter due to their high altitude and weather conditions. Driving by car can be a flexible option for getting around, but roads within cities can be dangerous, but the toll roads between major cities tend to be well maintained. Santiago is also home to a metro system with five lines.
Last Updated : December 17, 2013
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