Population: 18,1 millions.
Capital city: Santiago.
People: 95% European descent and Mestizo, 5% Indian.
Language: Spanish and a handful of native languages, including Aymara, Mapuche and Rapa Nui.
Religion: 89% roman catholic, 10% protestant, less than 1% jewish.
Passport: entry is generally straightforward as long as passport is valid for at least six months beyond arrival date.
Customs Regulations: no restrictions on import and export of local and foreign currency. Duty-free allowances include purchases of up to US$500. Travelers leaving the duty-free Regions I and XII are subject to internal customs inspections; there are heavy fines for fruit, dairy, spices, nuts, meat and organic products. X-ray machines are used at major international border crossings, such as Los Libertadores (the crossing from Mendoza, Argentina) and Pajaritos (the crossing from Bariloche, Argentina).
Visas: generally not required for stays of up to 90 days. Australian citizens must pay a 'reciprocity fee' when arriving by air.
Tourist Cards: on arrival, visitors will be handed a 90-day tourist card in the form of a receipt with bar code that will be asked upon leaving the country. It's possible to renew a tourist card for 90 more days. Many visitors prefer a quick dash across the Argentine border and back.
Electricity: the electricity current operates on 220V, 50Hz; plugs are C / L type.
Time: for most of the year Chile is 4 hours behind GMT, but from mid-December to late March, because of daylight-saving time (summer time), the difference is 3 hours. The exact date of the changeover varies from year to year. Note that Southern Patagonia uses the summer time for the entire year and Easter Island is 2 hours behind Santiago.
Internet Access: most regions have excellent internet connections; it is typical for hotels, hostels and coffee shops to have Wi-Fi. Much of Patagonia lags behind in this area, though free public Wi-Fi is available in some communities on the plaza.
Mobile Phones: foreign travelers with unlocked cell phones can only use a Chilean SIM card after registering their own device in Chile. Local SIM cards are cheap and widely available, for use with unlocked GSM 850/1900 phones. There's 3G or 4G access in urban centers. Cell-phone numbers have nine digits, starting with 9. If calling cell-to-landline, use the landline's area code. Cell phones have a 'caller pays' format. Calls between cell and landlines are expensive and quickly eat up prepaid card amounts. Purchase a new SIM card from a Chilean operator such as Entel or Movistar. Then purchase phone credit from the same carrier in kiosks, pharmacies or supermarket check-outs. In Patagonia, Entel has much better coverage than other companies. There's reception in most inhabited areas, with the poorest reception in the middle of the Atacama Desert and parts of Patagonia.
Money: ATMs are widely available, except along the Carretera Austral. Credit cards are accepted at higher-end hotels, some restaurants and shops. Traveler's checks are not widely accepted.
ATMs: Chile's many ATMs, known as Redbanc, are the easiest and most convenient way to access funds. Transaction fees can be high. Most machines have instructions in Spanish and English. Choose the option “tarjeta extranjera” (foreign card) before starting the transaction. Throughout Patagonia, many small villages only have one bank. Those crossing overland from El Chaltén, Argentina to Villa O'Higgins should bring plenty of Chilean pesos, as the nearest reliable banks are in Coyhaique.
Cash: some banks and “casas de cambio” (exchange houses) will exchange cash, usually US$ dollars only. More costly purchases -such as tours and hotel bills- can sometimes be paid in US$ cash.
Credit Cards: plastic (especially Visa and MasterCard) is welcome in most established businesses; however, many businesses will charge up to 6% extra to cover the charge they have to pay for the transaction. Credit cards can also be useful to show 'sufficient funds' before entering another South American country.
Currency: the Chilean unit of currency is the peso (CH$). Bank notes come in denominations of 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000 and 20,000 pesos. Coin values are 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 pesos, although one-peso coins are fast disappearing, and even fives and 10s are uncommon. It’s important to carry small bills; it also can be difficult to change large bills in rural areas.
Tipping: it's customary to tip 10% of the bill in restaurants (the bill may include it under 'servicio'). Taxis Drivers do not require tips.
Taxes & Refunds: a 19% value-added tax known as the impuesto de valor agregado (IVA) is levied on all goods and services. When using US dollars or a foreign credit card to pay for lodgings or tour packages no IVA, or tax, is charged.
Opening Hours: Hours given are generally for high season; in many provincial cities and towns, restaurants and services are closed on Sunday and tourist offices close in low season.
Banks 9am–2pm weekdays, sometimes 10am–1pm Saturday
Government offices & businesses 9am–6pm weekdays
Museums often close Monday
Restaurants Noon–11pm, many close 4–7pm
Shops 10am–8pm, some close 1–3pm
The longest and thinnest country in the world runs from the Andes to the Pacific. As well as sharing borders with Argentina, Peru and Bolivia. Chile also has territories in Polynesia and Antarctica, making it a tri-continental nation. From the high Andean plateau to the untouched southern territories at the end of the world, Chile invites to live adventures in the middle of the world’s driest desert, in the unique rainy temperate forest of South America, in front of millennial glaciers or under the watchful eye of the Andes in the middle of the buzz of modern cities like its capital, Santiago. These cultural and climatic contrasts have left an imprint on the identity of the country and its people. Warm, energetic, approachable and kind, Chileans share the love for their land, which invites you to build relationships beyond boundaries, to live unique experiences and to discover Chile.