The official language of Chile is Spanish, and its currency the Chilean peso. Chile is a mestizo country, of mixed European and indigenous extraction, and the indigenous tradition is still visible in several parts of the country. Chile's literacy rate is one of Latin America's highest. Nearly 90% of the Chileans are Roman Catholic, but there exists freedom of religious expression.
You'd be amazed, though. Its 4,300km-long, 180km-wide territory harbors some of the finest scenery in the Americas, a bewildering variety of climates - only the humid, hot tropical ones are absent and landscapes ranging from the world's most arid desert to the rainiest spot on the planet, including a Sahara in the north, a California in the center, an Alpine district in the mid-south and a Norway in the deep south, plus some places that bear no comparison, such as Easter Island, Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica, and the Atacama Desert.
Add to this a prosperous economy, some of the best telecommunications anywhere, good infrastructure, and health services, friendly people, excellent tourist services, and a total absence of poisonous plants or insects, and you have a destination that is hard to outclass.
Empanadas are snack-sized turnovers filled with meat, cheese, or shellfish, and are a staple of daily life, not to be missed. Fresh-baked bread, in a variety of styles, is available in local panaderias in even the smallest towns. A surprising variety of excellent sandwiches make for good, quick meals.
Chile's seafood is unequalled in variety and quality. Mussels, clams, and urchins, oysters and scallops, salmon and sea bass, the list of fish and shellfish goes on and on, and a morning visit to fish markets anywhere in the country is an overwhelming sensory experience. Paila marina is a delectable shellfish stew available throughout the country.
North American and European visitors will find the quality of red meat served here to far exceed that which they are accustomed to. Asados (barbeques) and parilladas (mixed grill) are extremely popular and widely available. Finally, even the most voracious sweet-tooth will be satisfied by locally made italian-style ice cream (helado) and deserts made with dulce de leche, also known as manjar. From north to south, Chilean cuisine is as varied and unexpected as the country's marvelous geography.
The Cajon del Maipo is a glacially sculpted valley just southeast of Santiago. It makes an excellent day or weekend trip. Whitewater rafting , hiking, and horseback riding are among the activities offered in Santiago's backyard getaway
Running along the western coast of the Southern Cone of the South American continent, Chile has vineyards, lakes, altiplanos, salt deposits, deserts, snowcapped peaks, glaciers, and fjords with the most varied flora and fauna. Chile has some of the highest peaks in the Andes.