Chile © lautaroj
A Chilean legend maintains that after God created the wonders of the world he had many pieces leftover. He had raging rivers, sprawling glaciers, valleys and soaring mountains, snow-capped volcanoes, sparkling lakes, beautiful forests and expansive deserts, icy fjords and sandy beaches. Rather than let all this beauty go to waste, he put them all together in a remote part of the world, and so Chile was born.
A long narrow strip making up the western part of South America's tail, Chile is 2,610 miles (4,200km) in length and at most 115 miles (180km) wide. Travellers are drawn to this country because of its multitude of natural attractions, from the stark northern deserts to the beautiful Lake District, and the dramatic mountains and fjords of Patagonia in the south. Chile is home to some superb National Parks, including the famous and mysterious Easter Island, and numerous activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Unlike much of South America, Chile's natural splendour is made accessible by great infrastructure and the outdoor adventure can be pleasantly interrupted by time in impressive urban hubs which make it clear that this is a country thriving economically and culturally.
Chile's European colonial heritage is evident throughout the country, and Chile's urban population is increasingly cosmopolitan, so that many travellers are surprised by how familiar and modern Chile feels in comparison to neighbouring South American countries which still boast strongly indigenous lifestyles. Indigenous culture does still thrive in parts of Chile, however, and the more traditional enclaves juxtapose interestingly with the palpable European influence. The people are resilient, cordial and hospitable, from the fashionable capital city of Santiago to the isolated island of Chiloé.
Besides natural beauty and an interesting blend of cultures, Chile offers the visitor excellent wines and seafood, unique handicrafts and shopping, and a variety of characteristic architecture, making it a beautiful and memorable place to visit.