Learn Spanish in Chile
Learn Spanish in Chile
Chile is a country of startling contrasts and extreme beauty, with attractions ranging from the towering volcanic peaks of the Andes to the ancient forests of the Lake District. There are a multitude of very good parks here, and plenty of opportunities for fine adventure travel. Chile is justly famous as the location of Torres del Paine, considered by many to be the finest nature travel destination in all of South America.
For anyone who has ever been fascinated by geography, the long, impossibly thin line of Chile has always produced a tiny moment of astonishment. Chile stretches over 4,300 km (2,700 mi) along the southwestern coast of South America, a distance roughly the same as that from San Francisco to New York, or Edinburgh to Baghdad. At the same time, its width never exceeds 240 km (150 mi), making the country more than eighteen times longer than its widest point.
To the north,The most obvious factor in Chile's remarkable slenderness is the massive, virtually impassable wall of the Andes, a mountain range that is still rising and that contains more than fifty active volcanic peaks. The western border is of course the Pacific Ocean, but it is a misconception to picture Chile as nothing more than the steep western slope of the Andean peaks.
All along its length Chile is marked by a narrow depression between the mountains and the sea. To the north the land rises and becomes more arid, until one reaches the forbidding Atacama Desert, one of the most inhospitable regions on earth. To the south just the opposite transformation takes place: the land falls away, and the region between mountains and ocean fades into the baffling maze of small islands that terminates in Chilean Patagonia.
Chile's southern extremity is marked by Cape Horn, a treacherous headland surrounded by almost continuously storm-tossed seas and passable only through the foggy stillness of the Strait of Magellan.
When the first Spanish settlers arrived in the sixteenth century three main tribes controlled Chile. Quechua tribes occupied the northern region and Araucanian tribes occupied the central and northern part of the southern region. The Incas occupied northern and parts of central Chile. The first Spanish settlements were, Santiago in 1541 and Concepcion in 1550 mainly because of the pleasant climate and fertile soil. Repeated assaults from the Araucanians lasted into the second half of the nineteenth century.
By the mid-seventeenth century, the population of the Spanish settlements and their surroundings numbered approximately 100,000
Under Spanish colonial rule, northern and central Chile were part of the Viceroyalty of Peru. The south remained under the control of the Araucanians almost until the nineteenth century. Independence was first declared in 1810.
A period of internal instability and strife followed, which resulted in the restoration of Spanish rule in 1814. Combined Argentinean and Chilean forces under Jose de San Martin and Bernardo O'Higgins, who crossed the Andes from Argentina, managed to defeat and drive out the Spanish army and restore Chile's independence (1818). O'Higgins became Chile's first president.
Chile defeated Bolivia and Peru in a war (1879-1883) for the control of the Atacama Desert and its rich mineral deposits. In the course of this war, Chilean troops occupied Lima. Chile won the disputed territory. Bolivia lost its outlet to the open sea and Peru the Tarapaca district.
After a short period of military rule (1924-1925), followed by the reinstatement of the democratically elected president Arturo Alessandri, a new, more progressive, constitution came in force (1925).
A presidential candidate of the left-wing parties, Salvador Allende, won the elections in 1970. Allende was deposed and died in a military coup in September 1973, which was followed by 16 years of military dictatorship by General Augusto Pinochet. Democratic elections were held in 1989. Democracy was restored in 1990.