Chile Country File

In Brief

Full name: Republic of Chile
Population: 17.1 million (UN, 2010)
Capital: Santiago
Area: 756,096 sq km (291,930 sq miles)
Principle language: Spanish (Castellano)
Major religion: Christianity (Roman Catholic)
Life expectancy: 76 years (men), 82 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: Chilean peso
Main exports: Copper, fish, fruit, paper and pulp, wine and tourism
GNI per capita: US$9,420 (World Bank, 2009)
Internet domain: .cl
International dialling code: +56
Electricity: 220V / 50HZ
Banking Hours: Monday to Friday 09:00hrs to 14:00hrs
Approx Flight Time from central Europe: 16 hrs.


Mainland Chile is a long country stretching 4,300km north to south yet only 175km, on average, west to east. It passes through major climatic extremes from the Tropic of Capricorn in its north to the cold temperate zone in its south (even colder if you include Antarctica – a section of which Chile lays claim to). In addition to its incredible long shape, the country its lapped by the Pacific Ocean on its western coast, the water temperature kept cold by the Humboldt current running up from the freezing Antarctic waters in the south; and its eastern side is dominated by the impressively high Andes Mountain range rising to over 6,000m (18,000 ft) in places, the crest line of which forms the border boundaries with Bolivia and Argentina. South of Santiago the mountains are lower and more broken, but the country is rugged with hundreds of small islands offshore from Puerto Montt to the Tierra del Fuego. Much of Chile, therefore, has a mountain climate with perpetual snow and glaciers in the higher parts that have an influence on local weather patterns. The height of the snowline gradually decreases from north to south as temperature decreases and precipitation increases.

All these factors combine to give Chile outstanding dramatic landscapes set within equally varied climates: arid deserts in the north with snow-capped volcanic backdrops; miles of sandy beaches; serene lakes between carpets of lush green forests pierced by towering, conical, snow-capped (some active) volcanoes; raging rivers; majestic fiords; glaciers that come down from the mountains and meet a lake or sea where they spectacularly break into icebergs full of sapphire-blue colour and the overwhelming beauty of the Patagonian wilderness.

A good half of the 17 million population is settled in Santiago (circa 6 million) and Valparaiso and Vina del Mar (circa 3 million). The northern third of the country is a desert with hot days and cold nights and the southern third is rugged and densely forested with a changeable, cool, wet climate.

It is an incredible country to explore if you like geography, wilderness and seeing nature at its most beautiful. It has a modern infrastructure, developed cities and friendly people.

Useful Embassy & Consulate Contacts

British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (UK)
King Charles Street, London W1A 2AH
Tel: +44 207 270 1500

Chilean Embassy in the UK
37-41 Old Queen Street, London SW1H 9JA
Tel: +44 207 222 2361

British Embassy & Consulate in Santiago
El Bosque Norte 0125, Piso 3 (3rd floor), Las Condes
Tel: +56 2 370 4100

United States of America Embassy & Consulate in Santiago
Andres Bello 2800, Las Condes, Santiago
Tel: +56 2 330 3000

Consulates and/or Foreign Embassies (selected few) in Santiago de Chile

Avda. Vicuña Mackena 41, Providencia.
Tel: +56 2 582 2606

Avda. Isidoro Goyenechea 3621, Piso 13, Las Condes.
Tel: +56 2 550 3500

Alonso Ovalle 1665, Santiago Centro.
Tel: +56 2 876 3400

Nueva Tajamar 481, Piso 12, Torre Norte, Vitacura.
Tel: +56 2 652 3800

Avda. Andres Bello 1869, Providencia.
Tel: +56 2 235 4538

Clemente Fabres 1050, Providencia.
Tel: +56 2 470 8400

Avda. 11 de Septiembre 2353, Piso 9, Providencia.
Tel: +56 2 663 3000

Avda. 11 de Septiembre 2353, Piso 4, Providencia.
Tel: 56 2 940 1700

Avda. Americo Vespucio Sur 100, Piso 14, Las Condes.
Tel: +56 2 928 0100


Spring: September / October / November
Summer: December / January / February
Autumn: March / April / May
Winter: June / July & August (For Skiing)

Best Time to Come

November / December for sun and less people.
January / February for sun, but these are the main summer months for Chileans too and therefore quite busy.

(Officially GMT minus 4 hours but minus 3 hrs Oct to Mar)
Taking into consideration Chilean day-light saving time this works out to be:
During Northern Hemisphere SUMMER: 5 hrs BEHIND UK
During Northern Hemisphere WINTER: 3 hrs BEHIND UK

Principal National Holiday Dates

01 Jan
00Easter (moveable date)
01 May
21 May
25 June (moveable date)
02 July (moveable date)
15 August
03 September (moveable date)
18 September
19 September
15 October (moveable date)
01 November
08 December
25 December

Things to Watch Out for

The Sea
The Pacific Ocean that laps the coastal length of Chile, although very inviting during the summer months is also a COLD sea due to the cold Humboldt Current that runs up the coast all the way from the icy southern Antarctic Ocean. Currents are also known to be very strong – so beware when bathing.

The Sun
In northern Chile the climate is basically a desert one which means that it is very dry and the sun is extremely strong during the day. In the central zone the climate is Mediterranean and in summer months the sun is also very strong here too. In BOTH cases, if you are inland or at the coast you will find the power of the sun a lot stronger than you are probably accustomed to and you should therefore take good care by WEARING a HAT and using SUNSCREEN CREAM. At altitude too, you will find the sun stronger than at sea level and extra care should be taken.