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Information about Santiago de Chile
- Population: 5 Million
- Location: Centrally located in Chile
Founded in 1541 by Pedro de Valdivia, Santiago de Chile is now an interesting mixture of Colonial, Victorian and ultra-modern office buildings. You'll find the 5,000,000 inhabitants of this very safe and comfortable city friendly and hospitable to foreigners. Santiago offers you all the charm and culture of Latin America in a convenient location.
Centrally located, Santiago makes the perfect base from which to visit both northern and southern Chile. Santiago's climate is mild, and for those of you familiar with Northern California, you'll find the weather virtually identical. Although winters are mild, when it rains in Santiago, it's snowing in the Andes, and for those who like to ski you'll be glad to know that the Ski areas of Valle Nevado, Colorado and La Parva are only an hour away. The west coast of Santiago is beautiful and offers numerous beaches, resorts and golf courses. In theory you could go skiing, play tennis and lie on the beach all in the same day!
The city itself is bisected by the Rio Mapocho, which gently weaves from east to west, before descending to the flood plain below. The Mapocho marks the northern border of the city centre, which is defined on the west and south by the Via Norte Sur and the Avenida Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins (known to Santiagans as the Alameda). Within this central zone you'll discover all the major museums, monuments, and architectural sights of Santiago.
The very heart of Santiago is the Plaza de Armas, which lies along the Alameda about five blocks south of the river. The city's European heritage is evident in the Parque Forestal, designed by a French landscaper on the model of Parisian parks. Walkers pass down tree-lined paths along the Mapocho, past small squares and the Museo de Bellas Artes. The Mercado Central is of British design, with wrought-iron ceiling parts that were imported from England in the mid 19th century. Today the market sells a wide variety of fresh, exotic produce.
Across the river, the Bellavista neighbourhood is home to many restaurants and cafes. The Parque Metropolitano is Santiago's playground, with walking trails, picnic areas, and a zoo. For stunning views of the city, visitors should head to the top of Cerro San Cristóbal. Also in the Bellavista area is La Chascona, the house designed by Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda.