Santiago is the capital of Chile and its largest city. Due to Chile’s economic growth during the past decades Santiago has become one of Latin America’s most modern cities. Its urban area or Greater Santiago, which includes the Commune of Santiago, has a population of over 5 million people who are called Santiaguinos. The Metropolitan area has about 7 million inhabitants.
Santiago, also known as Santiago de Chile, was founded by Spanish conqueror Pedro Valdivia on February 12th, 1541. Today the capital of Chile is a world class city with a cosmopolitan culture and modern telecommunications networks; it is the nation’s business, political, cultural, entertainment and educational center. The landscape of its financial center is filled with skyscrapers where many multinationals and banks have established their regional headquarters.
The capital of Chile is located in the Central Valley Region of Chile at 543 meters or 1781 feet above sea level. The Central Valley is the most populated region in the country. The city rests on an inland plain between the Andes Mountains in the east and the Coastal Range in the west, it is 100 km or 62 miles from the Pacific Ocean and 40 km or 25 miles from the Andes range. Unfortunately, this geographical location traps smog during the winter months from June to September. However you do not have to travel far to find fresh air, just 35 miles from Santiago airport you can find skiing resorts and the beach is a bit over one hour away. The Maipo Valley, a wine producing region, is south of the city. Its central location makes Santiago a grate base for visiting other areas.
Santiago is bisected by the Mapocho River which flows east to west and marks the northern border of Central Santiago. The axis of the city is the east-west Alameda or Avenida O’Higgins which runs west towards Valparaiso and east to Las Condes. Some of its 32 municipalities are very affluent and some are very poor. The capital of Chile has a larger middle class than many of other South American capitals and lower poverty rates.
The oldest part of Santiago is the Historic Center located between the Mapocho River and the Alameda. Here is where the Spanish conquistadors settled and built the city around the Plaza de Armas. In Western Santiago a neighborhood called The Quinta Normal has a number of worth visiting museums, a botanical garden and a park with sports facilities. Barrio Brasil was once a affluent neighborhood in the 1920s, today it has been revitalized by new private universities moving into the area. Northern Santiago, across the Mapocho River, is where Barrio Buenavista is located, a trendy and bohemian neighborhood with restaurants and bars considered the heart of Santiago nightlife. La Chascona, one of the houses of Pablo Neruda and now a museum, is located in Northern Santiago. Southern Santiago was an affluent residential area until their residents decided to move to the eastern part of the city. Today it is known as Barrio Universitario, a cluster of five universities that has brought new life to the area. Parque O’Higgins, Club Hipico, el Pueblito are a few of the landmarks located in the south of the city. In Eastern Santiago, the neighborhoods of Providencia and Las Condes are the modern business districts and running up against the foothills of the Andes are the most affluent suburbs of Santiago.
Travel to Santiago
Traveling to Chile’s capital is a great journey. Most large airlines have direct flights or flights with layovers to Chile. Chile’s national airline is LAN which is part of the Oneworld Alliance which includes AmericanAirlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, Mexicana, Quanta among others. Arturo Merino Benitez Airport is Santiago’s international airport and it is located in Pudahuel, 15 k or 9.3 miles North West of downtown Santiago.
Some countries require a valid visa to visit Chile. Check your local travel agent or contact the nearest Chilean consulate. Some travelers have to pay a fee to enter the country but only by air, there is no fee to enter by land. This is in response to a reciprocity fee that other nations charge Chileans to visit their country.
When planning your trip to Chile consider Chile’s school vacation as many services such as transportation or tours might be booked. In Chile, summer holidays start a week before Christmas and end in late February or the first week of March. Winter holidays are the last two weeks of July.
In the southern hemisphere seasons are reversed to that of the northern hemisphere. Winter is during the months of June to August and the coldest month is July when the temperature can drop to as low as 3°C or 37ºF . June is the wettest month of the year with average precipitation of 85mm or 3.3 in the form of rain, hail or snow, 80% of the yearly precipitation falls in the winter months.
Summer season is during the months of December to March and are hot and humid. The average high temperature is 30°C or 86°F and the average low 12°C or 54°F.
Fall season starts at the end of March through May and temperatures during the day can reach the mid 20°C or 68°F, evenings are cooler with temperature reaching a minimum of 7°C or 45°F.
Spring starts in September and lasts until November. Temperatures reach a maximum of 29°C or 84°C and a minimum of 12.5°C or 54.5°F.
Chile has a very modern transportation infrastructure and an extensive transportation system so many people take public transportation to work and to get around. Its underground subway system known as the Metro is South America’s longest and the second longest in Latin America after that of Mexico City. The metro has 5 lines, 108 stations and 103 km or 64 miles of track, it serves around 2,300,000 passengers a day.
Santiago’s metro is clean, safe, efficient and inexpensive. The metro is part of Transantiago, an integrated public transport system implemented in 2005 which tried to replace an older system with technology, new buses, efficient routes and payment options. Transantiago has an integrated fare system, by using a smart Bip card it allows passengers to make transfers within the system – bus to bus or metro to bus – within a two hour limit. Single trip tickets are also available with a multiple fare structure depending on the time. Seniors and students get 35% discount.
More about Chile Travel and Places