The Chilean territory has a privileged location in South America, with a length of some 4.300 km, in other words it covers 38 degrees of latitude, equivalent to approximately the distance between Sweden and Africa. On the other hand, our country is very narrow, with an average width of only 100 km, and its natural boundaries are: to the north ,the driest desert in the world with less than 10 mm of precipitation per year and virtually no vegetation; to the west, the vast and deep Pacific Ocean; to the east, the Andes Mountains with peaks reaching over 6.000m (in the Andes in Tierra del Fuego however, the highest peaks are just 3.000 m). To the extreme south, the territory falls apart and forms countless small islands in the Southern Ocean. Only Terra Australis Incognita, Antarctica, the enormous, white Continent, lies further south. Chile is one of the original signatories of the Antarctic Treaty of 1959.
Chile also has two very attractive ocean territories, world famous Easter Island, and the Juan Fernandez Archipelago. Both these island territories offer attractive and diverse wildlife, culture and the historical context in which they have developed.
From a bio-geographical point of view, and owing to its extension over several climatic and vegetational zones, the Chilean territory is extremely varied: from the tropics in the north to the Antarctic in the south, from absolute arid desert to temperate rain forest, with an extensive zone with mild Mediterranean climate in between. The country’s vegetation is adapted to is climatic features: plants like xerophytes, cacti and succulents in the north, which adapt to lack of water; forests needing little water that are characteristic of the countryside around Santiago, and deciduous forest further south. The seasons of the year are clearly defined, dry and sunny summers and cold and rainy winters, but as you move south the differences become less marked.
In spite of Chile being a developing country, its autonomous and independent public institutions, the strength of its economy (currently the strongest in South America), the power of its social and political structures, the respect for democracy as a way of life, and the absence of radical groups, provide the tourist with a guarantee of personal safety. The country has modern highways, highly efficient and professional air and overland transport services and a well developed and diversified tourist infrastructure.
Our country is aware of its historical and current dependence on renewable and non-renewable natural resources, and of the need to use them in a sustainable way. That is why various national policies have been developed in order to ensure the conservation of the different environments, the species that live there, and the biological processes that take place there. Although our system of protected areas (including Sanctuaries, Natural Monuments, National Reserves and National Parks), is not as well-designed and implemented as in the developed world, it is clearly heading in the right direction.
Although it is possible to read a lot about our country, it is better to visit it and feel its fascination and the cordiality and hospitality of its inhabitants. An old Chilean song, taught to children in their first years at school, says: “….and you will see how we treat a foreigner as a friend in Chile”. And this is precisely the intention of the text. It is an invitation to come and visit our country, to get to know its people, its nature, its wildlife, and especially its birds. An invitation to feel the cold wind of Patagonia on your body or the stifling heat of the Atacama, to experience the effect of altitude in the Andes, and to imagine the fine sprinkle of rain on your face in the morning as we set sail for the Pacific Ocean.