Chile Natural Environment
Chile is 4,270 kilometers long, starting from the middle of South America’s west coast to Cape Horn, the southernmost point of the continent. The country is only 380 km at its widest from east to west, and the narrowest point is only118 km. Its northern neighbors are Peru and Bolivia, its border with Argentina to the east is 5,150 km long. Its Pacific coastline in the west is 6,435 km long and consists mostly of high steep cliffs dropping into the sea.
The country has an area of 756,950 sq km, which includes Easter Island and Islas Juan Fernández. Easter Island, located 3,600 km west in the Polynesian Pacific, is known for its 887 monolithic expressionless human figures (Moais) sculpted of volcanic rocks. The Islas Juan Fernández, located 587 kilometers west, includes Isla Robinson Crusoe, which was the inspiration for the well-known novel of the same name.
The Andes is on the eastern side of Chile. Cordillera Domeyko (Domeyko mountain) in northern part runs along the Pacific coast parallel to the Andes. These highlands take up to half of the width of the country. Between the mountain ranges in the north are fertile valleys.
There are five north-to-south natural regions:
- Norte Grande (far north), consisting of high coastal cliffs and mountains, Andes plateaus and the Atacama Desert. It has a desert climate.
- Norte Chico (near north), a region from the south of Atacama to Santiago where the coastal range and the Andes meet. It has a semi-arid climate.
- Zono Central (Chile Central), the region where the coastal range and the Andes run in parallel, with the fertile Central Valley in between. It is the most densely populated region. It has a temperate, Mediterranean climate.
- Zono Sur (Southern Zone), which is the heavily forested south, south of Río Bío-Bío River, with a lake district crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers. It has a temperate ocean climate, being cool and rainy in the winter;
- Zono Austral (Chile Austral), in the far south, which has glacial landscape, coastline with islands, headlands and fjords, and ice fields in the Andes. The weather is constantly cold and stormy.
The northern two-thirds of Chile lie on top of the Nazca Plate, which forces its way eastwards at about 4 cm a year under the South American Plate, forming the Peru-Chile Trench off the Pacific coast. The trench has an average wide of 70 km, is about 6,000 km long and has a maximum depth of 8,000 m. This means that Chile is on the edge of a very deep depression below the surface of the Pacific.
The movement of the tectonic plates around Chile is the cause of many earthquakes. In the last century alone, Chile was struck by twenty-eight major earthquakes, all with a force greater than 6.9 on the Richter scale. On two days in mid-1960 two major earthquakes occurred, causing extensive devastation in south-central Chile. The Andes, also a product of the earth crust movements, has about 600 volcanoes in Chile alone, many of them active and almost sixty erupted in the last century.
Chile has many major rivers, including Loa (the longest at about 480 km), Bio-Bio and Aconcagua. It also many large lakes, especially in the south; the larger ones include General Carerra, Ranco and Sarmiento.
The climate varies with the terrain of the five natural region in the country:
- Norte Grande (far north), consisting of high coastal cliffs and mountains,
- Norte Chico (near north), a region from the south of Atacama to
- Zono Central (Chile Central), the region where the coastal range and the
- Zono Sur (Southern Zone), which is the heavily forested south, south of Río Bío-Bío River, with a lake district crisscrossed by hundreds of rivers. Has temperate ocean climate, being cool and rainy in the winter;
- Zono Austral (Chile Austral), in the far south, which has glacial landscape, coastline with islands and fjords, and ice fields in the
The seasons are: spring: September 21 to December 20; summer: December 21 to March 20; autumn: March 21 to June 20; winter: June 21 to September 20.
Puerto Varas, La Araucania & Lake Districts, Chile
The city is located 20 km north of Puerto Montt, on the south western shores of Lago Llanquihue. It has a population of 28,000 inhabitants and is in a splendid natural setting formed by the lake and the two volcanoes, Osorno and Calbuco.
The climate is mild and wet, with no real dry season, and rainfall is a possibility at any time of year.
Whist visiting you can see the Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, the Casino de Juegos de Puerto Varas, the Iglesia Luterana and Puerto Chico, which have buildings going back to the beginning of the 20th century.
Pucon, La Araucania & Lake Districts, Chile
Pucon is a small town, but a lovely one. Lots of rock buildings, tall trees, cold (but nice) weather, beautiful landscape. If you go to Pucon you should definitely go to a Cafe in the city and order a hot chocolate and a chilenito (yummy cake). You can also go to the lake and do some water sports or you can go skiing in the Cordillera. Is one of the most amazing places I've ever been and you would love it too!
Pisco Elqui, Norte Chico, Chile
nice place to see how they make pisco in Equi, fabulous landscape because of the dry climate and the river where everything is green
Coquimbo, Norte Chico, Chile
Capital of the province of Elqui, Coquimbo lies only 12 kilometers South of La Serena and 462 kilometers to the North of the City of Santiago. This is one of the summer destinations par excellence due to its long coastline, whose beaches are suitable for bathing, nautical sports and recreational activities.
Situated 87 m.a.s.l., its climate is semiarid, typical of the steppe. It features moderate temperatures ranging between 15 and 25° C along the year, as a result of the influence of the Pacific Ocean, although in the summer, it usually reaches peaks of 34° C.
On the southern shore, Coquimbo is blessed with long beaches and bays of soft sand. La Herradura, Totoralillo, Las Tacas, Morrillos, Playa Blanca, Puerto Velero and Tongoy are the most outstanding bathing resorts, which invite visitors to sunbathe and enjoy the white sands, the temperate crystal-clear waters and the first-class service.
Atacalco, Middle Chile, Chile
Atacalco isn't a city or a town. It's a very big estate, owned by german-descendants born in Chile, who raise cattle and timber. The place is a mountain valley near the border with Argentina, in middle of the Andes. It has a landing strip, a very impressive traditional "frontier" big house, and a cabin for guests. Only personal friends or the ocasional scientist are allowed to stay in the cabin. If you happen to somehow end in Atacalco, the scenery will amaze you. The water in the river that runs down the valley is indeed pure, but very cold. In summer, the climate is pleasant and the place is really quiet. Bring warm clothes, a good tent and enough food (there is no supermarket up there).
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