15 interesting facts about Chile

This slither of land in South America is indeed one of the most perse in the world. From the arid and alien landscapes of Atacama Desert to the lush greenery of the Lake District, Chile has something for everyone.

Here are 12 interesting facts you may not know about Chile:

1. Chile is the world’s longest country from north to south measuring at 4,620km (2,647mi). It extends across 38 degrees of latitude but is only 150km (93mi) wide from west to east, as cited in CIA World Factbook.

2. The Andes mountains trace the entire length of the country, covering approximately 80% of its land. As a result, only 3.8% of Chile’s land is arable.

3. Easter Island, famous for its moai statues, is geographically Polynesian but officially belongs to Chile. Located 2,000km (1,200mi) east of Pitcairn and 3,700km (2,300mi) to the west of Chile, it is one of the most remote communities in the world.

15 interesting facts about Chile

4. There are approximately 90 active volcanoes in Chile. Cerro Arul, Cerro Hudson, and Villarrica – composite volcanoes, sometimes called stratovolcanos – are three of its most active and therefore most closely monitored. Chile is also home to the world’s highest historically active volcano: Ojos del Salado which stands at 6,893m (22,615ft).

5. The world’s biggest swimming pool is at San Alfonso del Mar Resort in the Chilean city of Algarrobo. It is over 1,013m (3,323ft) in length, covers an area of eight hectares (20 acres) and has a maximum depth of 115 feet. It holds 66 million gallons of water and costs over $3 million USD a year to maintain, according to Guardian.

15 interesting facts about Chile

6. The oldest mummy in the world is not Egyptian but Chilean. The child, a Chinchorro mummy from a site in the Camarones Valley, has been dated to 5050 B.C. In contrast to the Egyptians who reserved mummification for kings and luminaries, the Chinchorro accorded everyone in the community this sacred rite regardless of age or status, according to National Geographic.

7. Chile’s Atacama Desert is the driest place on Earth with an average of 15mm (0.6in) of rainfall per year. Periods of four years have been registered with no rainfall in the central sector and some weather stations haven’t received any rain at all since records began. The area is so dry, planetary scientists used it to test early prototypes of Mars rovers.

15 interesting facts about Chile

8. Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk was marooned for four years on Chile’s Islas Juan Fernández, situated 670km (416mi) off the coast. He was eventually rescued by former crewmate and famed British explorer William Dampier. Selkirk’s story of survival was widely publicised on his return and is said to be the inspiration behind Daniel Defoe’s classic, Robinson Crusoe.

9. Chile only legalised divorce in 2004, the last country in the Western Hemisphere to do so.

10. The extraordinarily clear atmosphere in the mountains of Norte Grande is excellent for astronomers. It has about 300 clear nights a year and is the best possible site to build Southern Hemisphere observatories, as cited by Smithsonian.

15 interesting facts about Chile

11. Chile is one of few countries in the world with a government-backed UFO research facility. The country’s Central District has had so many reported UFO sightings that in 2008, the town of San Clemente opened a 30km (19mi) UFO trail through the Andes including plateaus for UFO landings.

12. Chile is affectionately known as país de poetas (country of poets). It has procured two Nobel Prize winners in Literature: Gabriela Mistral in 1945 and famous poet Pablo Neruda in 1971, according to BBC.

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