In Chile there are always one or two regions throughout the year where the weather is suitable for traveling. Santiago and central Chile are best visited in spring (September to November) or autumn (late February to April), while the southern parts of Chile, Parque Nacional del Paine and the lake region are best visited in summer (December to March). The Atacama Desert can be visited all year round, even if summer days are very hot and the nights at higher altitudes are bitterly cold all year round. In the northern Altiplano, the rainy season comes in summer, with precipitation usually only falling in short afternoons.
According to internetsailors, Chile is a paradise for skiers in winter, the resorts attract numerous tourists in the high season from July to September. The Easter Islands are cooler and much less crowded outside of the summer months. The same is true of the Juan Fernández archipelago. Here it can happen that the runway cannot be used due to winter rain. March is the ideal time to visit.
Many of the best festivals in Chile, including Semana Musical, Fiesta de Candelario, and Carnaval, happen in February, so this is a good time to get in touch with locals.
Chile – key data
Area: 756,102 square kilometers (sq km land 743,812, including Easter Island and Isla Sala y Gomez, water: 12,290 sq km)
Population: 16.9 million (July 2011 estimate, CIA). Population composition: Whites and residents with white and Amerindian ancestors 95.4%, Mapuche 4%, other indigenous groups (“indigenous people”) 0.6% (2002 census)
Population density: 22 residents per km²
Population growth: 0.836% per year (2011, CIA)
Capital: Santiago de Chile (4.9 million residents, 2006)
Highest point: Nevado Ojos del Salado, 6,880 m
Lowest point: Pacific Ocean, 0 m
Form of government: Chile has been a presidential republic since 1925. The constitution dates from 1981, the last change was made in 2000. The Chilean parliament consists of the Senate (48 seats, of which 38 are elected, 9 appointed for life by the Supreme Court and Military Government and one is a former president) and the House of Representatives with 120 members. The head of state is directly elected every 6 years. Chile has been independent from Spain since September 18, 1818.
Administrative division: 15 regions: Aisen del General Carlos Ibanez del Campo, Antofagasta, Araucania, Arica y Parinacota, Atacama, Biobio, Coquimbo, Libertador General Bernardo O’Higgins, Los Lagos, Los Rios, Magallanes y de la Antartica Chilena, Maule, Metropolitana Region (Santiago), Tarapaca, Valparaiso
Head of State and Government: President Sebastián Piñera, since March 11, 2010.
Language: The official language in Chile is Spanish. English is also widespread, and several Indian languages are also spoken.
Religion: 70% Catholics, 15% Protestants, 1.1% Jehovah’s Witnesses, minorities of Jews, animists and Baha’i.
Local time: Mainland and Juan Fernández Islands:
CET – 5 h. From the second Sunday in October to the second Sunday in March: CET – 4 h (summer time in Chile corresponds to standard time CET (winter time in Central Europe) – 4 h).
The time difference to Central Europe is -6 hours in summer and -4 hours in winter.
CET – 7. From the second Sunday in October to the second Sunday in March: CET – 6 hours. (Summer time on Easter Island corresponds to standard time CET (winter time in Central Europe) – 6 h)
The time difference to Central Europe is -8 h in summer and -6 h in winter.
International phone code: +56
Mains voltage: 220 V, 50 Hz.
Chile – money
Local currency: 1 Chilean peso is equal to 100 centavos
Currency abbreviation : Chil $, CLP
Banknotes are issued in denominations of 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 Chil $, coins in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 Chil $.
Currency Exchange : Exchange rates are usually best in the capital, Santiago, this is also the easiest place to exchange European currencies. Money can be exchanged in banks, cambios (exchange offices), officially certified shops, restaurants and hotels. It is recommended that you do not carry large amounts of cash with you.
Chilean peso exchange rate
Currency converter at OANDA
Credit Cards: are often used in the country, only in smaller places there may be difficulties in paying with credit cards. Visa, MasterCard and Diners Club are the most widely accepted.
ATMs are common all over the country (except on the Pacific islands and in mountain villages). You can withdraw money with credit cards that use the Plus (VISA) or Maestro (MasterCard) system. Most machines also work with EC cards (PIN required). For security reasons, however, the ATMs should only be used during business hours.
Travelers checks are generally accepted, but not as often in smaller towns and cities. Travelers checks are best made out in US dollars.
Foreign exchange regulations: there are no restrictions on national or foreign currencies for import and export, but a declaration is required from an equivalent value of 12,000 US dollars.
Bank opening times: Mon – Fri 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Exchange offices are normally open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.