Chile Country Overview

Chile Country Overview

South America


Chile is located in the southwest of South America. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, and Argentina and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. The national territory also includes islands located in the Pacific, such as Easter Island (Rapa Nui) and the Juan Fernández Islands (including Robinson Crusoe Island).

Due to the long north-south extension of about 4,275 kilometers in north-south direction along the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, but also because of the considerable differences in altitude in the west-east direction, Chile has a great variety of climatic and vegetation zones. The narrowest point in continental Chile (excluding Antarctica) is 90 kilometers, the widest point about 440 kilometers.

Chile offers pure variety, lovely beaches on the Pacific Ocean, the mountainous region of the Andes (in winter a paradise for skiers), dreamy islands, part of the Antarctic, the Atacama Desert (driest desert in the world), fertile valleys, clear lakes, active volcanoes, picturesque fjords, huge glaciers and much more.


Chile is divided into different regions from north to south according to landscape and climatic factors. Administratively there are fifteen consecutively numbered regions, but for the journey the country can be divided into 6 major regions, the Great and Small North, Central Chile, Small and Great South and Easter Island.

Great North
Here are the desert areas and the plateau in the north of Chile. The region is only sparsely populated due to its extremely dry climate. The largest cities are the port cities of Antofagasta, Iquique and Arica on the Peruvian border. The Atacama Desert, which is considered the driest desert in the world and attracts many travelers every year with its enchanting landscapes such as salt lakes, geysers and valleys, has a special charm. Much pre-Columbian culture has been preserved in the Andean region, even if the peoples associated with it are hardly significant any more. The north of the country is economically dominated by copper mining.

Little north
The semi-desert areas from the Río Aconcagua to the Rio Copiapó are located here. The main urban centers are the colonial coastal town of La Serena and the mining town of Copiapó. In the south there are numerous colonial cultural treasures as well as the fertile Valle del Elquí and snow-capped Andean peaks.

Central Chile
There is a Mediterranean climate in this region around the capital Santiago, which is also the most important cultural center of Chile. Two thirds of the population of Chile live here. Worth mentioning are the historic port city of Valparaíso, the glamorous seaside resort Viña del Mar and the cities of Concepción, Talca and Rancagua. Viticulture traditionally plays an important role in the coastal cordillera.

Little South
Because of its landscape, this region is also called “Chilean Switzerland” and is made up of the lake region and the Chiloé archipelago. There is a cool, moderate climate here. Picturesque lakes, volcanoes, many national parks with extensive forest areas make up the special charm of this region. Culturally, in addition to the local Mapuche people, German immigrants have also left their mark, which is particularly evident in the architecture around Lake Llanquihue. The most important cities are Temuco, Valdivia and Puerto Montt.

Great South,
southernmost region of Chile with a sub-polar climate. This huge area between Puerto Montt and Tierra del Fuego is characterized by mountains, glaciers and fjords. In terms of infrastructure, this region is poorly developed. The largest city in the region, Punta Arenas, is considered to be the southernmost city. The tourist highlight is the Torres del Paine National Park, which is particularly popular with trekking tourists.

Easter Island Easter

Island is over 3,500 kilometers west of the Chilean mainland and geographically already belongs to Polynesia, which reflects the culture on the island. The subtropical volcanic island is famous worldwide for its “Moai”, huge stone figures erected by the Rapa Nui people.


The Chilean currency is the peso (CLP) and is abbreviated, somewhat misleadingly, with the dollar sign $. The exchange rate is currently hovering around 1 EUR = 884.85 CLP (January 2021). The inflation rate has fallen to around 3 percent in recent years.

The Chilean currency consists of coins of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 pesos and banknotes of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 Chilean pesos (CLP).

Currency: Chilean Peso (CLP)
1 CLP = 100 Centavos
Exchange rates:
1 EUR = 884.85 CLP
100 CLP = 0.11 EUR
1 CHF = 821.28 CLP
100 CLP = 0.12 CHF

Money and transfer

The easiest way to withdraw cash (pesos) is with the EC / Maestro card (a maximum of 300,000 pesos per day = approx. 400 EUR) at the Redbanc chain’s ATMs in all major cities. That costs around 3-5 EUR per withdrawal at the best rates.

You can pay almost anywhere with major credit cards. If you withdraw cash with your credit card, you have to expect higher bank charges.

A number of German banks have contractual partners in Chile, which may facilitate the transfer of larger amounts; it is best to inquire at the house bank before traveling.

If you bring travelers checks and / or cash dollars / euros with you, it is better to exchange them in exchange offices instead of banks (never on the street!). Swap only the bare essentials at the airport; the courses are unfavorable. At the weekend, the larger hotels also swap, but at bad rates.

Below are the currently valid banknotes of Chile:

Chile Country Overview