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Chile, country of wild contrasts

Imagine a narrow strip of land, with a length of over 4,000 kilometers and an average width of 177 kilometers, bordered on one side by a spectacular coast and on the other side by the high Andean plateaus.
The Chilean culture, after surviving the violence and repression undergone in its recent history, thrives again, carried by determined and welcoming people. Though this country contains the largest population of European ancestry in South America, its ancestral traditions persist in the Andes and the southern plains. Moreover, its splendid national parks are ideal for trekking and observing the fauna.
Very few countries in the world can boast of having such a rich variety of landscapes. Chile presents natural features as diverse as deserts, lagoons, salars, canyons, oasis, active volcanoes, lakes, fjords, glaciers and islands.
The Easter Island and the Juan Fernandez Islands (with its famous Robinson Crusoe Island) are also part of the national territory. Chile also claims on a part of Antarctica. The total surface area of the country is measured at 756,096 km².
The country is separated into 15 administrative divisions, numbered from north to south (except for the region of Santiago which is called the metropolitan area). Two divisions were created in 2007, which explains the wrong succession of the numbers.
The Andes, backbone of the South American continent, stretch from Colombia to Tierra del Fuego. With their thousands of volcanoes, they overlook Chile from north to south and separate it from Argentina. In Cape Horn, they disappear into the ocean. The mountains occupy 80 % of the country’s surface area.
The very particular geography of the country has an influence on its weather. The north is warm and arid. The central region has a Mediterranean feel and fertile valleys. The Humboldt Current moderates temperatures in the entire country, which favors human development. When the Pacific temperatures rise because of El Niño, precipitation increases and causes major floods and severe damage.
The south has a cold and damp oceanic climate. The climate of Easter Island is subtropical maritime. In Chile, seasons are opposite to those in the northern hemisphere: summer runs from the end of December to the end of March and the very mild winter stretches from June to August.

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