General Information about Santiago de Chile Print E-mail

Santiago is the capital of Chile, a political and economic center. It is a great Latin-American city with European character. Santiago offers elegant architecture, stylish coffee shops, chic restaurants, street artists and also a modern and extensive transport system. Rising to the east are the huge Andes Mountains, which especially catch the eye and give the city a unique attraction and charm.

Santiago de Chile - Los AndesChile has about 17 million inhabitants and almost one third of those (about seven million) live in the great city of Santiago. The real estate market here had been booming for about ten years, and modern glass buildings or comfortable and luxurious apartment buildings proliferated everywhere. All of these buildings grow around old mansions and colonial houses which are forced to give way to the new state-of-the-art buildings. By 2012, the so-called Costanera Center should be finished; it will be the tallest skyscraper in South America, with 70 floors, some 300 meters high.

Santiago is also a city of contrasts and it is divided into 34 residential and industrial districts (called comunas or barrios); they altogether make up the greater Santiago. Generally speaking, the more to the East or Northeast one goes (i.e. nearer the mountain), the better the neighborhoods will be. The northwest, west and south districts are called barrios bajos, inhabited by the middle and lower classes. The slums, poblaciones, portray the extreme social differencies as in almost every large city in the world. Yet, they are not as visible as in other large cities in Latin America. During the day time, it is possible to move around without confronting any problems or danger in most neighborhoods. Still, we suggest being on the watch for potential pickpockets. It is also advisable to avoid parks, big green areas and poor neighborhoods at dusk.

Santiago is located in central Chile and it has a Mediterranean climate. The winter months are characterized by heavy rains and last from June to August. The weather in Santiago is quite pleasant and the city is suitable for tourists all year round. The best time of the year for a visit is definitely between October and May, unless you want to take advantage of the ski slopes at the winter resorts in the Andes, only 90 minutes drive from Santiago. The ski season starts around the end of June and finishes in September. The ski resorts are excellent as some European national ski teams complete their summer training in Chile.  

Santiago deChile by Night The inhabitants of Santiago (called Santiaguinos) are very proud of their modern subway network (Metro). It is always being expanded and it already reaches the most populated and visited neighborhoods. The subway is clean, fast and secure. During the peak hours, though, it is packed with people. Similarly, there is a modern network of public buses (micros) which cover the complete city. It is important to know that an electronic card must be purchased in advance (tarjeta bip!) in order to use both the buses and subway. The buses do not accept cash. The cards can be obtained at kiosks on the street or at the subway ticket offices.



Note: Several times per year, Chile Inside publishes a very useful and informative map of Santiago (Map Santiago Inside). This map covers the most important neighborhoods and shows the streets, tourist attractions, the public transport network and routes, plus plenty of interesting tips and information. We willingly hand out this map at our office together with our informal insider tips about Santiago and its surroundings.


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