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South America

Chile

A map of ChileA map of Chile Chile is a long, thin country bordering the Pacific Ocean on the western slopes of the Andes Mountains in South America. It extends from the hot, barren Atacama Desert in the north to the rocky islands and stormy seas around Cape Horn at the southern tip of the continent, a distance of around 4200 kilometres (2610 miles). The northern part is desert—one of the driest places on Earth. The central region has a warm climate similar to that of the Mediterranean lands of Europe or California in the USA. Here is where the majority of Chile's population and its main farming areas are found. The south of the country is a land of volcanoes, long sea inlets and glaciers. Much of Chile is mountainous and covered with forest. Also belonging to Chile is Easter Island, situated around 3500 kilometres (2000 miles) to the west in the south Pacific Ocean and one of the remotest places on Earth. Having endured political turmoil and military dictatorship in the second half of the 20th century, Chile today is a stable, liberal democracy and one of the most prosperous nations in South America.


Mapuche Indian womanMapuche Indian woman

People

Most people live in central Chile around the capital Santiago and the main port of Valparaiso. Many Chileans are descended either from European settlers (mostly Spanish) or from a mixture of Europeans and Native American peoples: “mestizos”. The Mapuche Indians, original natives of Chile, have long fought against invaders: first the Incas, then their Spanish conquerors, and finally the Chilean government. Today about 800,000 Mapuche live in reservations in the south of the country.

The crater lake of Ojos del Salado is the world's highest lake, at 6390 m (20,959 ft)

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