Did you know that the fun South American country of Chile is home to the largest swimming pool in the world? Maybe you did, but there’s no way you know all the interesting facts about Chile. All part of what makes this South American powerhouse a cool destination for anyone. And when we say anyone, that includes family travelers bringing the kids along for the adventure.
Here you can learn lots of information about Chile including the ins and outs of Chilean culture. These Chile facts will have you booking a flight ASAP. Learn the answers to questions like what Chile is most famous for, how Chile got its name, what food Chile is famous for, and so much more…
Table of Contents
- 1 Where is Chile?
- 2 Interesting Facts about Chile’s Culture
- 3 The Meaning Behind “Chile”
- 4 Religious Beliefs of the Chilean People
- 5 Facts about the Government of Chile
- 6 Typical Chilean Housing
- 7 Chilean Wine
- 8 Famous People from Chile
- 9 Geography of Chile
- 10 Well-Known Geographic Features of Chile
- 11 What’s the Capital of Chile?
- 12 Flag of Chile
- 13 Chile Traditions
- 14 Chile’s Economy
- 15 Attractions in Chile
- 16 World’s Biggest Swimming Pool
- 17 Population of Chile
- 18 Languages Spoken in Chile
- 19 Oldest City in Chile
- 20 Traditional Foods in Chile
- 21 History of Chile
- 22 Important Cities in Chile
- 23 Wildlife in Chile
Where is Chile?
Chile is located in the South American continent, stretching along the western coast of the continent. This long and narrow country has over 6,000 kilometers of Pacific coastline, making it an amazing travel destination for ocean lovers, avid surfers in particular.
Because the country stretches so far, the climate can vary dramatically. At the very North of Chile, the climate remains fairly moderate but can range from 32°C (90°F) to -2°C (28°F). In the South, the average yearly rainfall is extremely high. Northern Chile tends to draw the beach bum crowd, whereas the South is more ideal for snow skiing.
Interesting Facts about Chile’s Culture
Just as the climate of Chile changes dramatically from North to South, so do the cultural practices of the Chilean people. Chile’s culture – like music, dance, literature, food, and folklore – has been influenced by many separate groups of people over time. Present Chilean culture throughout the country is a blend of indigenous traditions and European influence, mainly from the Spaniards.
The Meaning Behind “Chile”
There are a few theories about the origin of the name Chile, so if you ask the native Chileans you’re likely to get a few different answers. One common theory is that Chile’s Aconcagua Valley is similar to Peru’s Casma Valley. And near Casma Valley, there was a small town named Chili.
Religious Beliefs of the Chilean People
Nearly 75% of the Chilean population practices Roman Catholicism. The other 25% is a mix of Protestant, Jewish, Greek Orthodox, Muslim, or have no religious affiliation at all. The most celebrated religious festival in the country, La Tirana, happens every year in July. It celebrates the Blessed Virgin Mary, better known as Our Lady of Mount Carmel during La Tirana.
Facts about the Government of Chile
The government of Chile is a representative democratic republic, meaning the president acts as head of government and the entire country. The president and the presidential cabinet hold executive power, but laws are passed only with the approval of the two parties of the National Congress.
Typical Chilean Housing
The typical Chilean house depends on the location, whether in the North or South. In the dry northern region where the temperature remains hot for most of the year, adobe houses are made from clay, sand, water, and plants. In southern Chile where the climate is wet and cold, houses are often constructed from sturdier materials, like wood and iron.
Chilean culture cannot be talked about without the mention of wine at least once or twice. Chile is the 5th largest wine exporter and the 7th largest producer of wine in the world. Ever since the early 16th-century wine has been an important aspect of Chilean culture. The best wines to try from Chile come from the Aconcagua and Atacama regions.
Famous People from Chile
Pablo Neruda is one of the most famous Chileans of all time. He was a Chilean poet and politician famous for his Communist beliefs, as well as his erotic love poems. Neruda did not just specialize in poetry, though, but also in historical epic tales and political manifestos.
Other important people hailing from Chile include Salvador Allende – the first Marxist to hold the title of President – and Augusto Pinochet – a Chilean army general and dictator. If you like to read, you might also be familiar with the works of Isabel Allende. This world-renowned writer is most famous for her novels The House of the Spirits and Paula.
Geography of Chile
Although you know the answer to the question “where is Chile located”, you might still be wondering about the country’s interesting geography. Once you see Chile on a map for the first time, these questions are likely to form in your head:
- How wide is Chile?
- What is the length of Chile? –
- How big is Chile? –
- How long is Chile’s coastline?
Just by simply glancing at a map, you can see that Chile is not wide at all, but it is very, very long. The average width of Chile is a mere 177 kilometers, so no matter where you are in the country you won’t be far from the water. Compared to the width of Chile, its length is quite impressive; it stretches over 4,000 kilometers from North to South.
Although Chile is technically only 4,270 kilometers from North to South, the coastline from North to South spans 6,435 kilometers. This coastline changes dramatically as you travel down the country. Some people describe the odd shape and dramatic change of the physical features of Chile as the “most unique territory in the world”.
Well-Known Geographic Features of Chile
Below are some well known areas which are part of Chile’s diverse geography.
The well-known region of South America called Patagonia is known for its stunning scenery, diverse wildlife, and sparse population. Many people assume that Patagonia is located in Argentina, which is not wrong. But it actually takes up the southern regions of both Chile and Argentina.
The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is known as one of the driest places on Earth. Per year, the rainfall in the Atacama averages a minuscule 15 mm. It is the oldest desert on Earth, and some scientists compare the soil here to the planet of Mars. If you’re coming from the south, the bus ride to San Pedro is long.
Located in the southeastern Pacific off the Chilean coast, Easter Island is the most popular geographic location in Chile, possibly even all of the South American continent. The island is home to nearly 1,000 moai. These monumental statues still stand after being built thousands of years ago by the Rapa Nui people living on the island.
The major neighbor of Chile is the Pacific Ocean to the West. In terms of countries sharing the Chilean border, there are three: Peru to the North, Bolivia to the Northeast, and Argentina to the East. Argentina and Chile share one of the longest international borders in the world. The two countries are separated by the Andes Mountain Range that stretches for over 5,000 kilometers.
What’s the Capital of Chile?
The capital city of Chile is Santiago. It is located smack dab in the center of the country, or at least pretty close to it. It is not only the capital but also the largest city of Chile in terms of inhabitants. The population of Santiago is about 5.7 million as of the 2017 official city census.
Flag of Chile
Just like the American flag, the Chilean flag dons the colors red, white, and blue. Another similarity is the presence of a star symbol, but instead of America’s 50 stars, Chile’s flag features just one. There are a few theories on what this star represents, the most common is that it symbolizes Chile is an independent state.
The blue surrounding the star is a symbol of the expansive blue sky and ocean surrounding Chile. The flag’s white represents the snow-covered Andes Mountain Range. The red symbolizes the blood that was spilled during the Chilean fight for independence against Spain.
Unlike many other countries in the world, Chile has an extremely low divorce rate. There are several reasons for this, but one of them is the value of family and the idea that family must stick together.
That being said, it’s no surprise that many traditions of the Chilean people are surrounded by the idea that family rules all. Their traditions are often family affairs, typically including 3 or more generations during any holiday or celebration.
One of the most attended celebrations among the Chilean people is the Tapati Festival, which celebrates
According to the WorldBank, Chile is ranked as a “high income” economy. In fact, it is ranked as #1 in terms of economic health compared to all other Latin American nations. A major reason for this is the fact that Chile is teeming with natural resources, both from the land and sea.
The major money-making industries of Chile are revolved around these resources, these ones in particular: copper, iron, steel, wood products, textiles, and fish processing. Chile also has a booming agricultural presence, growing grapes for wine, raising chickens and cows for the meat industry, and cultivating major crops like corn, wheat, and garlic.
Attractions in Chile
We’ve already talked about a few popular Chile attractions, like Easter Island and the Patagonia region. These two natural attractions are ideal for nature lovers. But if you want to experience true Chilean culture through the country’s top tourist sites, visit Santiago.
Aside from the natural wonders spanning from North to South, some of the most popular attractions in Chile are in the Santiago city center. And the best part is that many of them are free, like the Metropolitan Cathedral, the gardens at St. Christopher Hill, and the historical Museum of Memory and Human Rights.
World’s Biggest Swimming Pool
Maybe going for a dip in the world’s biggest swimming pool isn’t on your to-do list, but it does sound pretty enticing. If you travel to the Chilean city of Algarrobo, you’ll have the chance to swim in an ocean-like pool. This could be one of the most interesting facts about Chile, few would guess it.
San Alfonso Del Mar, a private resort in Algarrobo, is home to the largest swimming pool in the world. The pool covers an area of 20 acres and is over 1,000 meters long. Unfortunately, you will have to be a guest at the resort to take advantage of the pool, and the nightly rate isn’t cheap.
Population of Chile
Compared to other South American countries, Chile has a relatively low population. Argentina to the east is home to about 45 million, whereas Chile is home to less than 19 million. This makes sense, though; Chile covers an area of about 757,000 square kilometers, which is slightly smaller than twice the size of American Montana. Argentina, on the other hand, takes up nearly 2.7 million square kilometers of land.
Languages Spoken in Chile
When wondering “what are people from Chile called” the answer is simple: Chileans. When wondering what language is spoken in Chile, the answer is not so clear cut. The main language is Spanish and almost every Chilean can understand it.
However, there are many indigenous languages used by small groups of Chileans up and down the coast. A few of these languages include Mapudungun, Quechua, and Rapa Nui.
Oldest City in Chile
The oldest city in Chile is Santiago, the capital, which was founded in 1541. The oldest city in the northern region of Chile is La Serena, founded shortly after Santiago in 1544.
Traditional Foods in Chile
Like most Latin American countries, food plays a huge role in Chilean culture. The traditional cuisine here is inspired by a combination of indigenous foods and European cuisine. Chilean food is an interesting blend of Spanish, Italian, French and German cuisine all combined into one.
Many Chilean meals will start out with Ensalada Chilena, a small salad comprised of tomato, onion, cilantro, and a dressing made from oil and vinegar. If you’re wondering what to order next, consider trying Porotos Granados, the national dish of Chile. Locals and tourists alike love the traditional ingredients of Chile – corn, beans, and squash – combined with the Spanish flavors – onion and garlic.
It’s no surprise that seafood is a typical food in Chile. What did you expect from a country with over 6,000 kilometers of Pacific coastline? You can try everything from clams (machas) to seaweed (cochayuyo) to huge spiny sea urchins (erizos). Of course, Chileans also prepare more traditional fish dishes, with the nice addition of herbs and spices.
History of Chile
We could talk for days about the history of Chile, but we’ll do our best to keep it brief. The first historical settlement of Chile dates back to over 10,000 years ago by tribal people, similar to the Incans. But it wasn’t until the 1530s that Chile was officially discovered by the Spaniards.
The Spanish began to conquer and control the land, although the indigenous tribes had been living there for thousands of years. Santiago was founded in 1541 and established as the capital. Finally, in the 1800s, the Chilean natives began to fight for their independence from Spain.
The war, called the Reconquista by Chilenas, lasted until 1817. Independence was officially declared on February 12, 1818. Chileans celebrate their independence day on September 10th each year, since that date back in 1810 was when the fight for independence began.
Important Cities in Chile
One of the most well-known facts about Santiago, Chile, is that it is considered to be the most important city in the country. It was the first city to be established, the largest city in Chile, and it serves as the center of the Chilean government.
Another major city of Chile is Valparaiso, also the second biggest city in Chile, ranking just ahead of Concepcion. Santiago might be where the president resides, but Valparaiso is home to the National Congress. Just like Santiago, Valparaiso is a major tourism hub, home to great food, fascinating architecture, and stunning coastal and mountain landscapes.
Wildlife in Chile
The ultimate Chilean destination to see wildlife is in the Patagonia region. Patagonia is home to tons of land animals like cougars, South American armadillos, and birds of all shapes and sizes. It is truly one of the most diverse areas of the world in terms of animal wildlife species. Not to mention, it’s stunning beyond belief.
If observing the many bird species of the area is what you’re after, you’ll love the many penguins of Chile. With so much coastline, it’s no wonder that Chile boasts such a huge number of these silly birds. There are four species of penguins found here: Rockhopper, Macaroni, Magellanic, and Humboldt.
Well, there you have it, just about every random fact relating to Chile you can imagine! If the world’s largest swimming pool or the fluffy penguins don’t tempt you to start browsing Skyscanner for flights, who knows what will.