Chile has been named Lonely Planet’s Number 1 Country to visit in 2018 and this time they definitely got it right. The Andean state has so much to offer that it would take a dozen trips to see it all. Here are 10 reasons why Chile is a marvellous destination for your next trip.
- Its gorgeous natural beauty
Chile has 9 different climate zones and an absolute abundance of amazing natural sights. Being the longest country in the world with a total length of 4300km (2670miles) from North to South, Chile’s landscapes are fantastically diverse, varying from the driest place on earth, the Atacama Desert, to the ice tundra of the Chilean Antartica region. You can find virtually every landscape known to men in Chile which certainly adds to the country’s uniqueness.
- The fact that it’s the safest, wealthiest and most developed country in Latin America
Since the end of the Pinochet dictatorship in 1990, Chile has embarked on a journey to prosperity second to none in Latin America. In a mere two and a half decades, Chile has achieved the highest GDP per capita in Latin America and although the country’s wealth is very unequally distributed, you can see that you are NOT in just another developing country. The infrastructures are comparable to North America and Chile is also the safest country in South America in terms of crime rate per capita.
- Its fantastic cuisine, wine and spirits
Chile’s cuisine is varied and an absolute gem for meat and fish lovers (sorry vegetarians). In addition to the manifold seafood dishes, the Patagonian farms produce high quality meat which is certainly comparable to the world famous Argentinian beef. Chilean wine is another delight which has become very popular all around the world. You can also find a wide range of breweries which ironically have German names (a result of German immigration in the 19th century). Finally, we have to mention the famous Pisco liquor which according to Chileans has NEVER EVER been produced in Peru, we’ll stick to that truism for the sake of this article.
- Its vast stretches of empty wilderness
Chile has a population density of 24 people per square kilometre (62 per square mile). This very low density explains the fact that most of the country is completely empty and thereby an absolute nature lover’s delight. It is very easy to find a sheer endless stretch of empty wilderness in Chile in order to marvel at the beautiful landscapes in peaceful serenity.
- Its unique wildlife
Akin to the aforementioned diversity of its landscapes, Chile’s wildlife is also highly varied. The unapologetically Chilean guanaco llamas are just one of the thousands of exotic species which call Chile home. Condors, the second largest flying birds in the world can also be spotted on a regular basis. Thanks to Chile’s length, the country is one of the only places in the world where both artic and desert animals can be encountered.
- Its colonial cities and towns
Chile has some charming colonial cities and towns which constitute a playground for history and architecture lovers. You can find some picturesque colonial buildings in the colourful city of Valparaíso as well as in the old centre of Santiago. There are moreover several smaller towns which boast some fabulous Spanish style houses and squares.
- Its breathtaking modern architecture
Santiago is home to the highest tower in Latin America, the Gran Torre Santiago which has a stunning observatory at a height of 300m. Especially the modern area of Las Condes is full of futuristic and forward-looking residential towers and office complexes which were designed by famous architects from all over the globe. This high density of modern skyscrapers has given Las Condes the nickname ‘Sanhattan’.
- Its rich literature, film and theatre culture
Pablo Neruda is a name that every person who has ever opened a book should be familiar with. The most famous Chilean poet wrote some globally renowned love poems and other literary works which have secured Chile’s place on the literature map for centuries to come. Chile has moreover produced many films which have earned international acclaim (The 33, Machuca, No). In addition to that, Chilean actors have become known to the world in recent years, the best example being Pedro Pascal (Narcos, Game of Thrones, The Great Wall).
- Its long and impressive history
Chile was already inhabited by native tribes as long as 18000 years ago. Before the Spanish colonization, The Chilean Mapuche Tribe fought off the much stronger Inca Empire from Peru and established a very distinctive indigenous culture. The native culture was followed by a set of brutal Spanish conquest wars.
The Chilean Independence War (1818) is another highly interesting historical period which preceded a long streak of European immigration into Chile. Chile’s recent history is also full of regionally important events, notably the horrendous Pinochet dictatorship (1973-1990).
- The fact that it has remained relatively authentic
Chile is a country that does not need tourism to survive. The tourism industry is of course an important sector and contributes strongly to the country’s economic growth but the plain fact is that Chile has so many other economic sectors (copper, wine, solar energy, finance, meat) that mass tourism simply isn’t necessary from an economic point of view.
Another important factor is the cost. Chile being a lot more expensive than neighbouring Peru and Bolivia, many backpackers and other tourists tend to prefer the latter two and thereby skip Chile. The last point explaining Chile’s relative absence of mass tourism is obviously the vastness of the territory and the fact that even if there were a lot of tourists in Chile, the size of the country would make it hard to spot them.
Watch our Chile country overview video: