To celebrate British Airways’ new route to Santiago – the only non-stop service from London to the Chilean capital we’ve uncovered eight surprising facts about this amazing country that are guaranteed to inspire wanderlust.
1. Long and short of it
At over 4,200km in length, Chile is the longest north-to-south trending country in the world. As a result, its seasons vary depending on where you are in the country. The best time to visit southern Chile, including Patagonia, is during the summer months (December-March), while the central region – home to the country’s beach resorts (or balnearios) – experiences the warmest weather in the spring (September to November) or autumn (March to May) months.
2. The Andes mountain range extends the entire length of the country north to south.
3. Take the plunge
Chile is home to the world’s largest outdoor swimming pool, which can be found at the San Alfonso del Mar Resort – a 90-minute drive from Santiago. Set along the Pacific coastline, it covers an area of 20 acres – which is larger than 20 Olympic swimming pools – and holds over 3 million litres of water. The pool is also in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the world’s deepest at 35m. It took five years to build and costs £2m to maintain every year.
As well as record-breaking manmade pools, Chile is also graced with natural hot springs, created by Mother Nature herself. In fact, there are over 70 sites across the country to enjoy natural thermal waters.Discover Chile
4. Chill time
Penguins can be found in several areas of southern Chile, including the Seno Otway Penguin Colony near Punta Arenas in the south.
5. Get ahead
Easter Island – the Polynesian island renowned for its giant monolithic ‘Moai’ statues – is technically Chilean territory. It also happens to be the world’s most isolated island, located 3,700km west of the country.
6. Grape expectations
The country is world’s fifth largest exporter of wine. The industry dates back to 1554, when Spanish Conquistadores planted the first grapes on Chilean soil. Nowadays, the country has more than 1,200km of verdant valleys producing over 10 million hectolitres of wine per year.
Find out more
To discover more about the history and culture of the island and its inhabitants, visit Easter Island’s only museum, the Father Sebastian Englert Anthropological Museum, open most days from 09:30.Experience Chile
7. High and dry
Running through a 1,000km strip of land between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean in northern Chile, the Atacama Desert is the driest place on Earth. In fact, some parts of the region have not received a drop of rain since recordkeeping began. But thanks to the lack of precipitation (and little to zero light pollution), it also happens to be an stargazer’s paradise, with 300 nights of clear skies a year.
8. Sci-fi surroundings
Chile is one of the few countries in the world that has a government-supported UFO research organization. Sightings are so common in the central part of the country that the town of San Clemente opened a 30.5km UFO trail in 2008, which winds through the Andes mountains – its plateaus are said to make the ideal landing pads for ‘incoming spacecraft’.