• Capital City: Santiago (Metro Area Population: 6.4 million)
• Location and Borders: Southern South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Argentina and Peru
• Administrative Divisions: 13 regions (regiones, singular - region); Aisen del General Carlos Ibanez del Campo, Antofagasta, Araucania, Atacama, Biobio, Coquimbo, Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins, Los Lagos, Magallanes y de la Antartica Chilena, Maule, Region Metropolitana (Santiago), Tarapaca, Valparaiso
• Area: Total: 756,950 sq km
Land: 748,800 sq km
Water: 8,150 sq km
• Climate: temperate; desert in north; Mediterranean in central region; cool and damp in south
• Population: 16,285,000
• Demographic Growth Rate: 0.92%
• Industries: minerals, cement, foodstuffs, fish processing, iron and steel, wood and wood products, transport equipment, copper, textiles
• Languages: Spanish
• Government System: republic
Regions of Chile
Chile is home to various different protected regions varying from high altitude reserves to lowland wetlands. Of Chile's 75 million hectares of land, nearly 4% are designated protected areas with 62 different sites. These areas include nature reserves, wilderness areas, national parks, and natural monuments. Also Chile is home to 7 internationally protected wetlands and another 7 biosphere reserves.
Throughout Chile, there is a great amount of biodiversity which has in part led to the immense preservation efforts. For example, there are over 5,000 higher level plants and trees, 40 of which are currently threatened. Also, Chile is home to over 400 different species of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish. Finally, Chile is home to some 157 different bird species, 22 of which are currently threatened. However, because of the preservation efforts currently taking place in this region, it is hoped that these endangered species will make a comeback.
In the northern regions of the country, much of Chile is a desert, in fact it is one of the driest deserts in the world. There are some portions of this desert, known as the Atacama, that have no recorded rainfall in history whatsoever. The other northern part of Chile is known as the Altiplano and receives tropical rains for two months in January and February. These are very high altitude areas and therefore only allow for the existence of flora and fauna that may live as high as 12,000 feet. This beautiful region of the country is covered with salt flats, lakes, marches, and enormous volcanoes. This area is home to one of the country's important protected reserves, the Lauca National Park. The rains that fall in these high altitude regions often drains into the dry Atacama Desert leaving a trail growth. These areas eventually develop into salt flats and after a much greater amount of time, salt mountains. Some important cities that are located in this region include Arica, Iquique, Calama, and San Pedro de Atacama. There are many cities in the are both on the coast and in higher altitude areas. The area is home to many beautiful beaches as well as activities like trekking, mountaineering, and different archaeological and ethnic tours.
All of the largest Chilean cities are located in the central region of the country. This region is the location of most of the agricultural and industrial areas as well as the universities, vineyards, and premier beach resorts. In addition, ski resorts, national parks, and colonial areas also exist in the central portion of the country as well as many day tours to see the different breathtaking sights. This area is home to the capital of Santiago as well as other historic cities like La Serena. Central Chile offers visitors a number of exciting outdoor activities such as biking, skiing, mountaineering, rafting, and hiking.
The southern region of Chile is often broken up into two distinctive parts, the first recognizing the beautiful lakes and volcanoes. This is the region that was constantly defended by the local indigenous populations for some 300 years that made the European take over of the region a difficult feat for the conquistadores. This region is covered in native forests, beautiful glacier formed lakes, wild rivers, and immense volcanoes forming a perfect adventure spot for visitors and locals alike. Many of these forests are nationally protected reserves, refuges for some of the endangered plant species in the area. One such species is the Araucaria tree, a national symbol in Chile, that dates back to the early Jurassic times. An important area is the Valdivian Rainforest, known to be the second largest temperate rainforest in the world and is a great spot for various tours and excursions.
The southern region of Chile is known as the Patagonia and is the southernmost region of the world other than the south pole. Again this region is an immense desert but also has various forests, lakes, and fjords created by the ancient glaciers. These areas are excellent spots for cruise tours, sea kayaking, rafting, and fishing. The Patagonia is also home to the southern biosphere and national park reserves which are home to many animals from foxes to flamingos. The most southern portion of the mainland is also the launching point for cruises to Tierra del Fuego and its surrounding islands and inlets.