(and Easter Island)
Capital | Santiago
Population | 16,746,491(July 2010 est.)
Area | 756,950 SQ KM
Official Language | Spanish
Holidays | Independence Day, 18 September (1810 – from Spain)
Currency | Chilean pesos (CLP)
Time Zone | UTC -4
Best Time to Visit | September to December (spring)
Connecting with the Culture | Driving a 4 wheel drive across the sand dunes of the Atacama desert. Enjoying the cosmopolitan life in Santiago. Skiiing the slopes of the high Cordillera in Middle Chile. Standing next to the colossal moais of Easter Island (Rapa Nui) and wondering how the heck they got there. Traveling to Chile’s rugged southern tip, considered to be ‘the end of the world’, to watch the breaching whales.
Read | Isabel Allende’s House of the Spirits, the story of a Chilean family depicted with modern-day realism and a dose of the supernatural.
Listen | Local singer Nicole – who is signed to Madonna’s Latin music label.
Eat | empanadas fritas (fried pasties with ground beef and spices)
Drink | Mistral beer or try a foamy pisco sour (brandy with lemon juice, powdered sugar and egg white)
In a Word | Ah que rico(a) – normally used when describing a good-tasting dish (but just as applicable when referring to a good-looking person)
Characteristics | The Andean condor; cowboys; the Allendes; micro buses; street vendors; magic realism; great wine.
Surprises | Reality TV is an unexpected hit in Chile; Chileans often work six days a week, but they are always ready for a carrete (party).
NEWS ABOUT CHILE
Calls in Chile for new protection law after gay attack
(HN, 3/26/12) - Thousands of people attended the funeral yesterday in Santiago, Chile of Daniel Zamudio, an openly gay man, 24, who died 25 days after being brutally attacked by neo Nazis on March 3. Pictures released by his family show he was beaten in the head, burned with cigarettes & marked on his body with Nazi symbols & slogans. At the ceremony at Cementerio General a caravan of almost a hundred vehicles lined Avenida La Paz carrying photos of Daniel & messages of rejection of homophobia & all discriminatory biases in Chilean society, which is generally deeply conservative. Speakers sang the music he had enjoyed, including an acoustic version of Placebo’s “Every Me, Every You". 4 suspects have been jailed on attempted murder charges.
The case has prompted a national debate in the country over hate crimes & prompted calls for a new debate on an anti-discrimination law proposed in Congress 7 years ago; & first implemented last November. The bill, which the gay rights group `Movement for Homosexual Integration & Liberation (Movilh)' is petitioning to rename the “Zamudio law,” has continued to meet opposition from 13 Senate deputies of the conservative Independent Democratic Union Party (UDI) who say its passing could lead to legalization of gay marriage in the country. The Corporation Villa Grimaldi Peace Park, a think tank, said the death of Daniel Zamudio, beyond its actual perpetrators, has its origin in the gap in human rights education in the country & is not an isolated incident, but rather the result of an absence of a democracy with full respect for civil rights after years of government sponsored repression. The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) condemned the fatal beating & has urged authorities to pass legislation to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. (Read more at the Santiago Times)