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Chile may not be the first destination that springs to mind for an active getaway but with its heady cocktail of glistening lakes, high-altitude peaks, arid deserts and groaning glaciers, there’s ample opportunity for discovery and adventure.
Chile could be the perfect place to make you go ‘faster, higher, stronger’ this year! Want to know more? Here are five interesting facts about Chile that you might not be aware of…
Interesting Things about Chile
1. It’s a Long Way Down…
Chile is considered to be the longest country in the world. At 2,700 miles long and only 109 miles wide, it is the longest country in the world in terms of length-to-width ratio.
Because of this, climates change considerably as you travel through this South America jewel – from the driest desert in the north to a Mediterranean climate in the centre, and an oceanic climate in the west and south, seeing glaciers.
2. Home to the Driest Place on Earth…
According to NASA (and National Geographic), the Atacama is the driest desert in the world. Some of the weather stations here have never received any rainfall!
The dryness and unique formation of the landscape means it is frequently likened to Mars. Its otherworldly appearance made it a popular with filmmakers having featured in blockbusters like Quantum of Solace and The Motorcycle Diaries! Despite its arid credentials, more than 1 million people live in the Atacama. Farmers extract water from aquifers and snowmelt streams to grow crops and raise llamas.
Browse trips to Atacama Desert
Thought you could only see penguins in Antarctica? Guess again!
Home to over 150,000 penguins and one of the most spectacular wildlife reserves in Chile, Magdalena Island is a designated nature reserve due to its importance as a penguin breeding site. There are an estimated 1.5 million breeding Magellanic penguin pairs worldwide, with 700,000 breeding pairs in Chile alone!
So if you’re a penguin lover, get yourself over to Magdalena Island! It can be easily reached from Punta Arenas on a half-day excursion – just ask our experts at the time of booking and they will happily arrange this for you.
4. New World Wine…
Most people are aware of Chilean wine, but did you know it’s classified as ‘New World Wine’ because it is not produced in the traditional wine-growing areas of Europe? However, this categorisation could be misleading; Chile actually has a long history of winemaking going as far back as the 16th century when Spanish conquistadors brought vines with them when they colonised South America.
Today, there are many viticulture regions that produce grapes, and Chile is now classed as the fifth largest exporter of wines in the world and the ninth largest producer. Prized varietals include Pinot Noir and Syrah.
5. That’s a lot of lava…
Chile has the world’s second most active string of volcanoes after Indonesia. With over 2,000 active and inactive volcanoes, from the highest, mostly inactive (it last erupted 1,300 years ago) Ojos del Salado in the north to the more iconic but much smaller snow-capped Osorno stratovolcano situated in Chile’s Lake District.
More than 50 of these living mountains have had eruptions recorded, while 500 of Chile’s volcanoes are reported as potentially active. Not a lot of people know that!
Browse trips to Chile’s Lake District
By Laura Gamble, who travelled on Discover Chile
See our holidays below and discover more interesting Chile facts for yourself.