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Geography & Topography

Capital: Santiago

Largest city: Santiago

Area: 756,096.3 km2

Population:  ± 17.250.000

Religion:  70% Christian (Catholic), 15.1% Protestant or Evangelical, 8.3% Atheist, 6.6% Other

Language: Spanish

Currency: Peso


There is evidence that more than 10.000 years ago, there were already people living on the land that is known as Chile today. However, there is very little known about Chile before Christopher Columbus discovered the American Continents in the late 15th century. The indigenous people of Chile are called ‘Mapuche’. The first Europeans to arrive in Chile were led by Ferdinand Magellan in 1520. Magellan was trying to circumnavigate the earth and stumbled upon the southern passage. Since then, the passage has been called the ‘Strait of Magellan’. Then, in 1535, Diego de Almagro and his band of Spanish conquistadors reached the land of Chile to seek gold. They would never find gold in Chile, but they did recognize agricultural potential, which was the reason of the conquest of Chile in 1540. One of Franciso Pizarro’s lieutenants, Pedro de Valdivia led the conquest of Chile and in 1541 he founded the city of Santiago. From then on, the country was officially part of the Spanish Empire. In 1553 the inhabitants came to an uprising against the Spanish Empire. During one of the battles Pedro de Valdivia was killed and many Spanish settlements were destroyed. Two more of these uprisings occurred in 1598 and 1655. Pushing the Spanish border and reducing their power over Chile every time.



Chile is an extraordinary country. It is not wider than 450km, but it is 4500km long. Pinched in between the Andes on the east side and the Pacific Ocean on the west side, it has some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. Travelling from north to south of the country will take you through the driest desert in the world all the way down to the arctic landscapes.

Performing Arts


The most recognisable instruments in traditional Chilean music are:


Probably the most popular Chilean music instrument is the ‘Charango’. It is a short based string instrument dating back to the 18th century and is about 66cm long. Unlike a regular guitar, the Charango has 10 strings, divided in two courses of 5. Traditionally, the body of the instrument was made from the skin of an armadillo, but nowadays the body is mostly constructed out of cedar or chestnut wood.




The Guitarron Chileno

This typical Chilean instrument has its origins in the 16th century. When taking a first look, this instrument looks very similar to a regular guitar. But looking closer, it becomes obvious this is a completely different instrument. The ‘Guitarron Chileno’ has a flatter top, a smaller body and shorter strings. And that is not all; the Guitarron Chileno has 25 strings, much more than a regular guitar.









Some interesting facts:

  • The country is shaped like a ribbon and is 4500km long, but is only 450km wide.
  • Chile is the world’s 38th largest country.
  • Along with Ecuador, Chile is the only country in South America that doesn’t share a border with Brazil.
  • Chile contains the infamous  Atacama Desert, which is to be known as the driest place on earth. The average rainfall is just 1 millimetre a year. Some weather stations in the desert
    haven’t recorded any rain at all. Evidence suggests that from 1570-1971 there has not been significant rainfall in the desert whatsoever. Most of the parts of the desert are so unhospitable, there is no life at all. The deserts condition is often compared to the planet Mars and several movies have been shot there.



Chilean Community in Australia:

More information on the Chilean community: