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is a democratic republic.
The President, at present Mr Ricardo Lagos
Escobar who was elected on 11th March
2000, serves in office for 5 years.
The National Assembly is made up of the
Chamber of Deputies with 120 members and
the Senate with 47 members (38 are elected
and 10 are designated).
It sits in Valparaiso.
The constitution dates from 11th March
1981, later modified in 1989 and 1991.
Chile is part of South America, bounded by
Peru in the north and Argentina and
Bolivia to the east.
The Pacific Ocean runs down the whole
length of Chile, which is a long strip of
land (4300 kms long by 200 kms wide)
between the sea and the Andes.
There are islands and islets all down the
From the Peruvian border in the north to
the Tierra del Fuego in the south Chile
encompasses the impressive Atacama desert,
the Andes, volcanoes, lakes, natural
parks, glaciers and Cape Horn (424 m high)
on Horn Island in the extreme south.
having gone through its first recession
since 1983, the country is showing signs
of revival and should stabilize its growth
rate from 2000 on, due to a tightening up
of its monetary and budgetary policies,
improvements in its trading terms and a
more competitive exchange rate.
On 2nd September 1999, the Central Bank
put an end to its policy of fluctuation on
internal profit margins which had been set
up in 1984, the exchange rate is now
determined by the market.
Chile uses its different resources
according to the way the country is
divided geographically. In the north
because of the extremely dry climate there
is hardly any farming, the central area is
mainly used for raising livestock, and
most of the forests are in the south where
the temperatures are low.
Chilean economy is still dependent on the
The country is the biggest producer of
copper in the world, and it accounts for
40% of exports.
If you add that figure to the other
minerals, essentially silver, but also
sulphur, zinc, natural gaz, coal and iron
ores, this proportion reaches 55%.
The rise of over 40% in the market value
of copper from 1998 to the beginning of
2000 represented an enormous growth.
The IBD (the InterAmerican Bank of
Development) has approved its first
private loan to Chile : a financing of 25
million dollars to the CTR
official language is Spanish, the second
language is English, used in business.
There are also several Indian dialects
spoken, like Mapuche.
The country is predominantly:
Catholic 85% , with 11% , Protestants, 3%
Jews and 1% Muslims.
Measures and Voltage
and measures are on the metric system.
Electrical current is 110 v. Plugs have
flat prongs, like American ones.
Take an adapter if you want to use your
national currency is the Chilean peso, 1
peso = 100 centavos
1 Peso (CLP) = 0.0124 FF
1 euro = 529.1465 pesos
It is a good idea to have American dollars
with you as most of the prices are
indicated in dollars.
Also in many of the hotels and tourist
sites only foreign currency is
Travellers cheques and American credit
cards are not accepted.
de Valdivia founded
in 1541 on a vast plain surrounded by
mountain peaks and watered by the
The town is perched at an altitude of 1000
meters and situated at 140 kms from the
beaches at Valparaiso.
Santiago, the capital of Chile, with 5.5
million inhabitants, is not a tourist
town, there are only a few of the
monuments from colonial times that it is
still possible to visit.
It was a small town for years and in 1647
and 1730 two earthquakes destroyed several
of the buildings.
The colonial city is organized around a
large rectangular square, the Plaza de
Armas (1541), where there is the Correo
Central (the post office), a pink building
built in 1882, and next to it the Museo
Historico Nacional. There is also the
biggest church in the country on this
square, Santiago Cathedral (1748-1789)
with its wonderful baroque nave.
The Palacio de la Mondena (1805) is
situated on the Calle Morande.
It is in this imposing Mint, which later
became a presidential palace that Salvador
Allende was killed during the military
coup in 1973.
The San Francisco church (1586) is built
on the Alameda Bernardo O'Higgins, which
is 18 kms long.
The church cloister contains the Museo de
Arte Colonial San Francisco with a
collection of paintings and religious
objects as well as a collection of ancient
Most of the theatres and concert hall are
situated around the Plaza Mulato Gil.
The Mercado Franklin is a flea market
which is on during the weekends, lodged in
the buildings of an old
Fresh foods are found on the Mercado
Central, which is on the banks of the
The sea pavilion is reputed for its
generous and reasonably priced seafood
You can also find very nice clothes in
Santiago at very competitive
Chile's main port has 276,000
It is a museum-town with the atmosphere of
a whaling port at the beginning of the
It was discovered in 1536 by the
conquistador J de Saavedra who named it
Valparaiso (Paradise Valley) after his
The port has been repeatedly rebuilt after
being destroyed several times by
earthquakes and tidal waves. With a
rapidly growing population, the houses,
often built of bits and pieces, have
gradually climbed the 42 hills, hanging on
on their piles, defying the laws of
Fifteen funiculars, symbol of this voyage
back through time, classified as
historical monuments since September 1998,
climb the hills straight up. Each of these
funiculars is unique.
The local population uses them every day
to go to work and come back home.
The Plaza Sotomayor is the historical
heart of the town, where numerous massive
official buildings are congregated, like
the Court House, the headquarters of the
navy, the central post office and the
To visit : the Calle Condell and its
bourgeois residences with carved doors,
the Turri clock, the port district known
as the Chinese district, the Bellavista
area with its open air museum, the
Sebastiana which is the house of the poet
Pablo Neruda, the Museo del mar Lord
Cochrane which was the first
astrononomical observatory in Chile and
which houses today splendid models of
Every day on the Plaza Italia, at the edge
of the Avenida Pedro Montt, there is a
handicraft market offering a variety of
objects coming from all over
big towns are Concepción,
Viña del Mar, Talcahuano (247,300
inhabitants), Antofagasta (218,000
inhabitants), Temuco (211,000
inhabitants), Punta Arenas (113,000
inhabitants), Puerto Montt, Orsono.
The climate in Chile varies depending on
the latitude and the altitude.
The seasons are inversed compared to
In the north where there is the dryest
desert in the world, the Atacama, the
weather is often cloudy and cool.
biggest animals to be found are the puma,
the guanaco (Andes wolf) and the
huémul (a large reindeer), there
are also the chilla (a kind of fox), two
types of wild cat and mountain rodents -
amongst which is the chinchilla, a
disappearing species. I
It is advisable to take Spanish lessons or
improve your level.
The possibility of finding a good job will
depend on how well you speak the
There are several language institutes in
France which can quickly bring you up to a
to be completed
need a valid passport, which is still
valid for at least 6 months.
You have to have a tourist card which is
delivered by the airline company or the
consulate, the cost of this card is 22
If you are staying less than 3 months it
is not necessary to have a
condition in the country :
Generally the climate is healthy. There is
a risk of viral hepatitis.