ChileCopyright:  Nataliya Hora  123rf.com

Chile

Capital: Santiago.
Currency: Peso (CLP).
Language: Spanish.
Listen to the national anthem.

It is believed that around 10,000 years ago migrating native Indians settled in what we now know as Chile and called themselves Mapuche. It is said that the name Chile comes from the Native Indian word for 'Tchilli', which means 'snow' or 'extremely cold'.

In 1520 Ferdinand Magellan discovered a route through the bottom on Chile, no known as the Straits of Magellan. Ferdinand Magellan was among the first Europeans to set foot in Chile. Chile's fertile plains were claimed by the Spanish and on 12th February 1541, Santiago was founded.

Chile is the longest (north- south) country in the world and lays claim to a section of the Antarctic and has the longest continental mountain range in the world, the Andes which is 7,000km (4,350 miles) long.

The bio diversity of Chile is a mix of dry desert, humid tropics, tundra, alpine and glacial, allowing for very special flora and fauna. The Atacama Desert is the driest desert on the planet where some scientists say some river beds have been dry for 120,000 years! So barren and arid is the Atacama that it has been used to show what Mars is expected to be like. Even in a place so arid there is still life. Muxh exists on the hills near to the sea where each morning a heavy mists descends, condensing on the cacti and leaves which animals like the Guanaco lick.

The national flower is the Copihue also known as the Chilean Bellflower which is a climbing plant and can grow as tall as 10m (33ft)!

CopihueCopyright: Sugar Blues Flickr

The vines twine clockwise in the southern hemisphere and clockwise in the northern hemisphere and this is due to the sun. The plants fruit was sold in markets but due to over collection and deforestation the plants natural habitat is decreasing and in 1977 the plant was given legal protection.

Easter Island has a very violent and controversial history and included civil war, deforestation, colonialism and visits by slave traders. It is also said that cannibalism took place as a result of the deforestation and over hunting, that is believed to have taken place. It is unclear precisely when the island was inhabited but it is thought to be between 700 and 1200 AD and its first inhabitants are believed to have been Polynesians, arriving on catamarans. Easter island was annexed to Chile on 9th September 1888. In the 20th century the island was managed by the Chilean Navy and in 1966 the Rapa Nui were given Chilean citizenship but in 1973 a coup d'├ętat put the island under Martial Law. After some negotiation the island was opened up and tourism flocked to see the marvels of the island. The native Rapa Nui still have animosity towards Chile.

Easter Island
Copyright:  Alberto Loyo 123rf.com

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