Chile's history is as many-faceted as the country is long.
Just as pre-Hispanic cultures throughout Chile varied from one ecological
niche to another, so too does each region have its own post-Conquest historical
events and traditions, its separate economy and demographics.
Central Chile is the cultural nucleus of the country.
All of Chile's largest cities are located here, as are most of its universities
and industries, its vineyards, finest agricultural lands, colonial and
early republican architecture. In fact, central Chile is something of
a microcosm of the country, balanced between deserts to the north and
forests to the south, with the capital poised between the highest peaks
in the Americas and a host of premier beach resorts.
Santiago, the capital, is a focal point of Latin American
commerce and the point of entry for nearly all international arrivals.
Clean and modern, Santiago sits in a basin between the Coast Range to
the west and the Andes to the east. World-class ski areas in the central
Andes lie only forty-five minutes away, up steep switchbacks which climb
over 7500 feet in twenty-six miles. Numerous vineyards surround the capital;
hotsprings, seventeenth-century colonial haciendas, and national parks
in both the Andes and the Coast Range, all make easy day trips. At night,
visitors may choose from a variety of restaurants serving all types of
regional and Ethinc cuisines, and excellent hotels assure a good night's
sleep for business or pleasure.
To the west, modern highways connect with the coastal
cities of Viña del Mar, Valparaiso, and San Antonio. Like Santiago,
the central coast enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with short, mild winters
and a sunny summer season lasting over eight months. Here a chain of white-sand
beaches and coastal resorts offers something for every taste, from luxury
hotels to secluded cabañas, picnics on the beach to fresh seafood
in an open-air restaurant.