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For anyone who has ever been fascinated by geography, the long, impossibly thin
line of Chile has always produced a tiny moment of astonishment. Chile stretches
over 2,700 miles along the southwestern coast of South America, a distance
roughly the same as that from San Francisco to New York, or Edinburgh to
Baghdad. At the same time, its width never exceeds 150 miles, making the country
more than eighteen times longer than its widest point. You can experience the
desert region, river valley vineyards and great farms or the lush Lake District in
Chile's amazing and diverse geography.
… hidden “where the land ends” (one of the meanings given to the Mapudungun word “chilli”, the language of one of the groups of aboriginal inhabitants, from which the name of Chile may derive), wedged between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, bordered by world-renowned countries and enriched by a variety of climates.
Thirteen primary varieties of wine, seven reds and six whites, are cultivated in central valleys of Chile. 500 years ago, Spanish conquerors discovered a privileged climate and fertile regions and planted the oldest vineyards in the New World. Nowadays, there is an ever-increasing development of premium wine tourism.
Santiago and the Central Valley
Here you find the most fertile lands of the country. This area concentrates agricultural, commercial, industrial, financial and cultural activities. Therefore, it’s also the where most population is concentrated. It’s also a fabulous scenario for many tourism activities. In this area you will find locations like: the capital city of Chile, ski resorts, Valparaíso, premium wine routes Pablo Neruda’s houses and modern beach resorts, to name just a few. Northern Chile’s amazing landscape is represented by the Atacama Desert and the high plateau or Altiplano, which is a cradle of ancestral cultures. The Pacific Ocean coasts offer many possibilities to recharge at nice beaches, fishermen’s creeks, natural reserves and more.
The Atacama Desert
The driest in the world, also hosts a rich cultural heritage. Famous archaeological museums, such as the San Miguel Museum in the Azapa Valley in the Arica Region and Padre Le Paige Museum in San Pedro de Atacama can be visited. The clearness of the sky is much valued by national and international astronomers who have built many famous observatories here. Another regional attraction is the wonder of the “flowering desert” that occurs every few years from a unusual rainfall. Today, as in the past, San Pedro de Atacama represents the spirit and essence of the “Atacameños”, living from irrigated agriculture and herds of domesticated llamas and alpacas.
Chilean Lakes and Patagonia
Canopying, trekking, fly-fishing, horseback riding, kayaking and many more activities are available in the Lakes and Volcanoes district; all that amidst lush green valleys, emerald lakes, impressive volcanoes and the omnipresent Andes Mountains. In the southern end of Chile, between Puerto Montt and Punta Arenas, spread out is one of the regions of major varieties of landscapes, climates and natural monuments of the planet. It’s a zone where it´s still possible to find landscapes not controlled by man, It was described like by Darwin as “a green desert”, shaped by hundreds of islands and an island, Austral of Chile is a dismembered territory. The collapse of the Mountain chain of the Coast caused that the ocean flooded the lowlands, forming a labyrinth of channels and fiords where the Mountain chain of the Andes borders the sea.
Easter Island is one of the world’s most famous, yet least visited, archaeological sites. The island is a small, hilly, now treeless island of volcanic origin. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it is considered to be the world’s most remote inhabited island. Sixty-three square miles in size and with three extinct volcanoes (the tallest rising to 1674 feet), the island is, technically speaking, a single massive volcano rising over ten thousand feet from the Pacific Ocean floor. The oldest known traditional name of the island is Te Pito o Te Henua, meaning The Center (or Navel) of the World. First settled by a small party of Polynesians, Easter Island is one of the youngest inhabited territories on Earth, and for most of its history it was the most isolated inhabited territory in the world. Its inhabitants, the Rapanui, have endured famines, epidemics, civil war, slave raids and colonialism; they have seen their population crash on more than one occasion, and created a cultural legacy that has brought them fame, way out of all proportion to their numbers.
The large stone statues, or moai, for which Easter Island is world famous were carved during a relatively short and intense burst of creative and productive megalithic activity. 887 monolithic stone statues have been inventoried on the island and in museum collections. Although often identified as “Easter Island Heads”, the statues actually are heads and complete torsos. Some upright moai, however, have become buried up to their necks by shifting soils. The period of time when the statues were produced remains disputed, with estimates ranging from 1000/1500 CE to 1500/1700 CE. Almost all (95%) moais were carved out of distinctive, compressed, easily worked volcanic ash or tuff found at a single site called Rano Raraku. The Rapanui who carved them had no metal or powered machinery, only stone hand tools - mainly basalt toki. Only a quarter of the statues were installed on the coastal ahu platforms, with nearly half still remaining in Rano Raraku and the rest elsewhere on the island, probably on their way to final locations. Moving the huge statues seems to have been a laborious and very slow. Most currently standing statues, some 50 in total, have been re-erected in modern times, except for those on the slopes of Rano Raraku.