Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a South American country occupying a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south. Along with Ecuador, it is one of two countries in South America that do not border Brazil. Chilean territory includes the Pacific islands of Juan Fernàndez, Salas y Gómez, Desventuradas and Easter Island. Chile also claims about 1,250,000 square kilometres (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica, although all claims are suspended under the Antarctic Treaty.
When to go:
The northern Atacama has a pretty constant climate year round which makes it an easy and versatile place to visit. The days are generally hot and evenings chilly with clear skies if youre lucky! It will be that little bit hotter during the summer months, December ? March. The best months in Santiago are between October and April when the days are generally fine. It can, however, get very hot in December and January so watch out! The most pleasant weather in the Lake District is between December and March when the rains are less frequent, it can become pretty overcast during other times in the year. Patagonia can only really be visited between November and March, it is simply too cold to go during any other month and heavy snow can make certain areas inaccessible.
Average monthly temperature (°C)
- 4 hours
Spanish is the official language but several native languages are still spoken. Over 20,000 speak Aymara in the north and further south there are perhaps 500,000 who speak Mapuche. On Easter Island a Polynesian language, Rapa Nui, is used.
Dates for the diary:
Easter and Christmas are the most important dates on the Chilean festive calendar when many celebrations take place. An important secular holiday is Independence Day on 18th September with the following day being the day of the Armed Forces. This week is taken up with Fiestas Patrias and is a very patriotic time.
British passport holders require a passport valid for six months beyond intended stay. No visa required for British citizens, a 90-day tourist card is issued free on arrival. You get given a copy of the tourist card keep it safe as you will be charged for reissue if you loose it and may have problems when leaving the country. If crossing into any other country make sure you get given a new tourist card each time you come back into Chile. All other nationalities should contact the relevant Embassy or Consulate for information.
Return international flights must be reconfirmed 72 hours before departure. All the main offices are in Santiago (02), ring: American Airlines on 679 0000, Avianca on 695 4105, British Airways on 232 9560, Continental on 204 4000, Iberia on 870 1070, Lanchile on 526 2000, Varig on 707 8000. International departure tax is US$26.00 + US$5 security charge (payable in $ cash on departure) but does not apply to transit passengers. You must check in at least 2 hrs before an international flight, especially during peak seasons.
For the latest update-to-date Chile travel advice, click here.