Chile Geography

Geography in Chile

Chile extends on the South American continent over 4275 kilometers in north-south direction along the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, but is on average only about 180 kilometers wide.

It borders Peru and Bolivia to the north and Brazil and Argentina to the east. The western border forms the Pacific coast. Chile also owns considerable shares in the Antarctic.

Due to the great length of the country, Chile has a wide variety of landscapes. The Atacama Desert dominates in the north. The east is shaped by the Andes. Central Chile is influenced by the Mediterranean climate. The Little South is characterized by forests and beautiful landscapes, which are often referred to as Chilean Switzerland. From region XI. there are already large areas of glaciers. The largest glacier in South America is the Campo de Hielo Sur. The barren landscape of Patagonia begins here. The climate is harsh and rainy.

Central and southern Chile consists of two parallel mountain ranges with a north-south course: the Andes in the east and the lower coastal mountain range (coastal cordillera, Cordillera de la Costa) in the west. In between lies the Central Valley (Valle Central or Valle Longitudinal) with the majority of the population, arable land and viticulture. The height of the Cordillera, Central Valley and Andes decreases on average from north to south, so that the Central Valley dips below sea level south of the city of Puerto Montt, which is about 1,000 kilometers south of Santiago. The coastal cordillera, from which only the mountain peaks protrude from the water, becomes a chain of islands at the same time. A unique fjord and island landscape can therefore be discovered in this region. In the north of Chile, on the other hand, there is no pronounced central valley, that is,

The Chilean Andes form one of the highest mountain ranges in the world and have a multitude of peaks over 6000 m. Among them is the highest mountain in Chile, the Ojos del Salado (6893 m), which is also the highest volcano in the world.

The Río Loa in the north in the middle of the Atacama Desert is the longest river in Chile with 443 kilometers. The rivers that permanently carry water are mostly nourished by the melting snow and ice of the Andes. In accordance with the increasing rainfall, the volume of water carried increases towards the south. The rivers are used for irrigation in agriculture, for energy generation and, to a lesser extent, for tourism.

Due to the long north-south expansion over more than 39 degrees of latitude, but also the considerable height differences in west-east direction, Chile has a great variety of climatic and vegetation zones.

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Flora and fauna in Chile

Because of the enormous extent of the country, there are different vegetation zones in Chile. On the one hand, the Atacama Desert, where little or nothing grows, but every few years there are rains in the Atacama, which transform the desert into a sea of flowers. A wide variety of cacti, succulents and shrubs grow in the Andes and near the coast. Wine can be grown from the area of the Rio Elqui River.

The Huemul, which is the national animal of Chile alongside the Andean condor and is shown on the national flag, lives in the Andean regions. Pumas and chinchillas also tend to live in the higher areas of the country. In the steppes of Chile, among other things, the guanacos, which belong to the camel family, are at home.

The gigantic Andean condor does not live exclusively in the Andes, as one might assume by its name, but is native to all of Chile and is one of the largest birds in the world. If you would like to watch flamingos on your motorcycle tour through Chile, you should try your luck at the large salt lakes.

Flora in Chile

National parks and nature conservation in Chile

Chile has a very large number of national parks and national reserves, these are managed by the Chilean forest authority CONAF.

The most famous national parks are the Conguillio National Park, the Torres del Paine National Park, the Lauca National Park, the Bernardo O’Higgins National Park and the Rapa Nui National Park on Easter Island.

In the province of Palena near Chaitén is the Parque Pumalín, which was built with private funds and covers more than 3000 square kilometers. The park is particularly interesting for eco-tourism.

So far, UNESCO has declared the Chiloé National Park, the Torres del Paine National Park and the Rapa Nui National Park on Easter Island to be World Heritage Sites.

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