If you’re planning to visiting the South American country, knowing some facts about Chile will greatly enrich your travel experience.
It’s a strong country with plenty of history, culture, and natural wonders to learn about. Better appreciate its diverse landscapes, such as the Atacama Desert, the Andes Mountains, and the stunning Chilean Patagonia with a few of these interesting facts about Chile!
Fun and Interesting Facts about Chile
1. History on Display
Currently, there are seven UNESCO World Heritage sites in Chile. Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, was the first site and most recently, the Chinchorro Mummies were added.
The Historic Quarter of the Seaport of Valparaiso and the Sewell Mining Town are also on the list. You can see all the details here!
2. Route of Parks is one of the World’s Epic Treks
It’s 1,700 miles long and it features spectacular scenery and incredible hiking terrain. I’m talking about the Route of Parks which is one of the longest and most beautiful treks in the world. The trail connects 17 of Chile’s national parks and is a testament to how stunning this part of the world is.
3. A Long Way from the Top
One of the most distinguishing things about Chile is how it looks on a map and yes, it is a very long and narrow country.
In fact, one of the most interesting facts about Chile is that it’s the longest and narrowest country in the world! From north to south, the country extends for over 2,500 miles and is around 110 miles across.
4. There’s Lots of Coastline to Explore in Chile
At 4,050 miles long, Chile’s Coastline is the second longest in South America after Brazil!
5. Earthquakes are Pretty Normal
I’m not saying anyone ever gets used to the ground shaking under their feet but in Chile, this is a pretty common thing!
Chile is located along the Ring of Fire which is why it’s one of the world’s most earthquake-prone places. The biggest earthquake ever recorded took place in Chile in 1960. It registered 9.5 on the scale.
6. Nobel Prize Winners in Literature
Two writers from Chile have won the Nobel Prize in Literature. The first person to win was Gabriela Mistral in 1945 and the second was Pablo Neruda in 1971.
7. So Where does the Name Come From?
No one knows for sure where the name Chile came from but there are several theories. Some people think it could have come from the Indigenous word “chili” which means “where the land ends” which would make sense when you see the country’s position on a map.
Others believe that it comes from the sound that one of the country’s native birds makes which sounds like “cheele cheele”.
8. The Dry Atacama
The Atacama Desert is the second driest desert on earth as it only receives about 0.47 inches of rain a year. Some areas of the desert have not seen rain in centuries!
The landscape is so unique and otherworldly that NASA tests some of its instruments for Mars missions in some areas.
9. Chile is for Poets
Poetry is so highly-regarded in Chile that the country has earned itself the nickname “Nation of Poets.” To date, two well-known poets from the country have won Nobel prizes and the country plays host to an international poetry convention that sees poets from all over the world come together.
10. From Hot to Cold, From the Mountains to the Beaches
One of my favorite fun facts about Chile! Chile is one of few places in the world where you can ski and swim or surf in the ocean all on the same day.
People who do this start their day off with some skiing at one of the ski resorts in the Andes Mountains before driving the few hours to the coast where they can spend a warm afternoon and evening swimming and surfing in the ocean.
11. That’s a Lot of Water!
The city of Algarrobo is home to one of the biggest swimming pools in the world. Located at the resort of San Alfonso del Mar, the pool is around the size of 20 Olympic-size swimming pools and holds a whopping 66 million gallons of water! The pool is so big, it is primarily used for water sports such as paddleboarding and kayaking.
12. From Real Life to the Pages of Books
Historical accounts from Chile have inspired many characters from some of the greatest books ever written including William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.
13. Chile has its Version of The Tango
Cueca is Chile’s official national dance and is most often seen at festivals and street dances. The dance is unique from any other dances, even the ones in nearby South American countries, and it sees a man and a woman act out the courting routine of a rooster and hen.
14. A Familiar Flag
It might look like the flag of Texas, but there are some distinguishing differences between the Texas and Chile flags. Yes, they both have the prominent white and red stripes with a white star against a blue background, but the Chile flag has the blue square in the top left.
The flag of Chile is also older than the flag of Texas and the blue signifies the ocean, the red signifies the blood lost in the battle for independence and the white signifies the snowcapped Andes Mountains.
15. A Land of Volcanoes
It is said that there are more than 2,000 volcanoes in Chile, about a hundred of which are still active! Being situated on the Ring of Fire, that’s not an abnormal number but considering the small size of the country, it seems like a huge number!
16. A Night Sky Like No Other
If you’re looking for one of the best places to go stargazing, look no further than Chile! Well, look no further than northern Chile to be more precise. This region of the country is one of the best places on Earth to enjoy the night sky.
A combination of the dry conditions of the Atacama Desert, a lack of light pollution from urban centers, scarce precipitation and clear skies creates ideal conditions to observe the stars and planets above.
17. Chile is Home to the Southernmost Town
Ushuaia in Argentina is the southernmost city in the world, but the southernmost town in the world but Puerto Williams is actually further south.
So why do some argue that it should not have the title? It’s because Puerto Williams is on an island, and it has just 3000 people, and some people think the title should go to a mainland town or larger city (there are 60,000 people living in Ushuaia).
18. These Mummies are Even Older than the Egyptian Ones!
Dating from as far back as 5050 BC, the Chinchorro Mummies are the oldest mummies ever to be discovered in the world and they were discovered in the Atacama Desert of Chile.
19. They’re Out There!
Are extraterrestrials real? Has Earth had visitors from another planet or galaxy? The government of Chile seems to think so! After all, they do have an entire department devoted to UFO and alien research.
20. A Wise, Old Tree
In southern Chile, a tree might just be older than any other tree on Earth. At over 5,000 years old, the tree known as Alerce Milenario was around long before the great pyramids.
21. Chile Has a Very Diverse Landscape
The incredible scenery that can be seen all around Chile is attributed to the diverse landscape. Desert terrain, snow-capped mountains, beaches, rugged coastline and sprawling countryside come together to create a stunning work of art.
22. Chile is Full of Beautiful Street Art
One of the most fun facts about Chile is that Chileans love to express themselves through art, whether it be dance, poetry, literature, or graffiti. The latter is prominent on the streets of every city in the country.
This colorful street art often depicts historical and political events but sometimes it’s just a beautiful, colorful portrait simply created to be admired by the masses.
23. Pisco is a Source of National Pride
As Chile’s national liquor, Pisco can be found all over the country. The drink, which is a type of brandy made in the Atacama and Coquimbo regions, is used in local cocktails including the popular Pisco Sour.
24. Land of the Penguins
You don’t have to go all the way to Antarctica to find penguins! You’ll find most of the penguins in Chile in the southern portion of the country. This is where the Seno Otway Penguin Colony can be frequently seen on the beaches of the area. The Humboldt Penguins can be spotted along the north coast.
25. Chilean Tea Time
Usually taken sometime between 5 and 9 PM, Once, as it’s known, is a third meal or tea time in Chile. While some people may replace regular dinner with this tradition, others opt for both depending on the day.
The items served at a typical Once are likened more to breakfast and brunch foods such as cheese, bread, cake, coffee and of course, plenty of tea.
26. Amazing Valparaiso
When you think of cities in Chile, Santiago is likely the one that comes first to mind but Valparaiso is just as amazing, if not more so! The city is mostly known for its historic center city area which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2003. The port city is home to many artists and is a major industrial center.
27. A Land of Many Tongues
Spanish is the official language of Chile but the dialect spoken in the country is one of the hardest to understand. Smaller populations of residents also speak German, Italian and the Indigenous language known as Mapuche.
28. A Remote Island is Part of Chile
You’ve likely heard of Easter Island, but did you know it actually belongs to Chile? It’s true but who would think it when the island is situated more than 2,000 miles away?
It’s one of the most remote islands in the world and can only be reached by taking a flight that lasts just over five hours.
29. Copious Copper
Chile produces over five million tons of copper per year, which is one-third of the world’s copper, making it one of the world’s top copper producers.
30. Water is Privately-owned in Chile
In Chile, water is owned by companies and it’s the only country in the world with such an arrangement. This arrangement comes with both good and bad.
It’s bad because it makes accessing water more difficult and expensive for average citizens. The good is it means citizens get cleaner and safer water.
31. Look Way Up!
There aren’t all that many skyscrapers in South America but Santiago happens to be home to the tallest one on the entire continent. The Gran Torre Santiago is 980 feet tall and is part of the Costanera Center which is the largest shopping mall in Latin America.
32. Urban Living
Of the approximately 19 million people living in Chile, almost six million of them live in the Greater Santiago area which is equal to one-third of the country’s entire population. Concepcion and Valparaiso are also highly populated cities.
32. Cowboys are Called Huasos in Chile
Many countries have their name they give to cowboys. In Chile, they are called Huasos. These skilled horse riders, farmers and cattle herders are usually found in the central valley region of the country and can often be seen wearing straw hats and ponchos.
33. Chile is a Leading Wine Producer
Chile ranks sixth among the top wine-producing countries in the world. The country is small but it has the perfect climate and landscape for grape-growing and wine-producing.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere and Merlot are some of the most common grapes grown in Chile. Top wine regions in Chile include the Casablanca Valley, Aconcagua Valley, Colchagua Valley, Maipo Valley and Limari Valley.
34. Most Potato Varieties Can Be Traced Back to Chile
Many people don’t know this but around 90% of the potatoes consumed worldwide are descended from varieties that originated in Chile.
The islands of Chiloe, in particular, are home to over 200 varieties of Chilote potatoes. Who knew there were so many varieties of one type of potato?
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