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20 Interesting Facts About Chile You Might Not Know

Chile is my second home country, and I’d consider myself an expert on this destination after living there for three years. However, since it’s relatively small in population (only 18 million), foreigners don’t tend to know much about this South American country. 

Hopefully, these 20 interesting facts about Chile will inspire you to plan your next trip! After all, it’s currently ranked the safest country in South America and is generally one of the best countries to visit on the continent.

1. More than 1/3 of Chile’s population lives in Greater Santiago.

Sunset view of the Santiago, Chile, skylineAs of the 2017 Census, Chile’s total population was 17,574,003, with current 2024 estimates exceeding 19 million. Approximately 6 million people reside in Santiago, the capital.

Other densely populated areas include Greater Concepción and Greater Valparaíso. These regions, part of Central Chile, defined by CORFO, house 90% of the population, making Chile highly centralized.

2. Chile is one of the longest countries in the world.

View of turquoise lake in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile surrounded by mountains Chile, the seventh-largest South American country at 291,930.4 square miles (756,096.3 km2), stretches 2689 miles (4,329 km) from north to south.3 

While often thought to be the longest country in the world, Russia and Brazil beat it out for this title. Although Chile can’t claim to be the longest country, it may be the narrowest. 

The nation is flanked to the west by the Pacific Ocean and to the east by the Andes Mountain Range. Thanks to the unique geography of Chile, it has an average width of only 180 kilometers (111.85 miles) from east to west. 

3. Chile is one of the most earthquake-prone countries.

View of the Plaza de Arms in the center of Santiago, Chile, showing historic buildings alongside modern skyscrapersChile is a hotspot for earthquakes due to its location within the Ring of Fire and the subduction of the Nazca Plate beneath the South American Plate.

It even holds the record for the largest earthquake ever instrumentally recorded: the 1960 Valdivia Earthquake.

Luckily, thanks to this Chile fact, the country has some of the best structural engineering and seismic building codes globally.There’s even a popular Chilean cocktail called the terremoto (“earthquake” in Spanish)!

4. Easter Island isn’t close to the rest of Chile.

Moai statues on Easter Island, a special territory of ChileEaster Island became part of Chile on September 9, 1888, but it’s far from Mainland Chile. In reality, it’s in Polynesia–around 2,180 miles (3,510 km) west of continental Chile.

Recognized as one of the world’s most remote islands, direct flights from Santiago to Mataveri International Airport take about 5.5 hours. Therefore, you can’t exactly take a day trip to the island from Santiago.

When you think about it, Chile’s attractions, like Easter Island, Torres del Paine National Park, and the Atacama Desert, are widely dispersed. Consider this geographical spread when planning your vacation!

5. Chile also claims part of Antarctica.

View of Gonzalez Videla Base, an inactive Chilean research base in AntarcticaApart from Easter Island and some smaller Pacific islands, Chile has also made a claim to part of Antarctica. This area, known as the Chilean Antarctic Territory, measures approximately 1,250,000 square kilometers (480,000 sq mi).

However, despite various nations making territorial claims, the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) has governed the continent since 1961, designating it as a scientific preserve for peaceful purposes. 

While some countries don’t recognize territorial claims, the Chilean government identifies itself as “tricontinental,” exercising sovereignty over South America, Oceania, and Antarctica.

6. Two Chileans have won the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Pablo Neruda statue on a bench in Valparaíso, ChileGabriela Mistral was the first Latin American ever to become a Nobel Laureate when she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1945.6

Later, in 1971, Pablo Neruda, often considered Chile’s national poet, also received the Nobel Prize in Literature.7

Due to Chilean poets’ success with the Nobel Prize, Chile is sometimes called the “land of the poets” or el país de poetas in Spanish.

7. Chile has its own version of tea time.

A man sitting at a table putting jam on a piece of toast for Once.Chileans enjoy a unique third meal called “once” (translating to “eleven”). This meal, served between 5-9 p.m., varies among families and often serves as a tea time or a dinner replacement.

Common items include bread, jam, meat, cheese, avocado, pâté, cake, coffee, and tea. You can read more on the history of once here.

8. The Atacama Desert is one of the driest places in the world.

View of Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) in the San Pedro de Atacama desert in the north of ChileThe Atacama Desert, receiving less than 12 mm (0.47 in) of rain annually, ranks as the driest non-polar desert and the second-driest desert overall.

Despite areas going centuries without rain, it falls just short of being the driest place on Earth, losing to Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valleys.8

Valle de la Luna, a stunning section of the Atacama, is known for its lunar-like landscapes, often used by NASA to test instruments for future Mars missions. 

9. In Chile, you could technically ski and surf in one day.

View of Portillo ski resort in Chile, showing the hotel surrounded by snow and mountainsChileans often use this fun fact to entice visitors: you can technically ski and surf within the same day during a Chile vacation.

Start by skiing in the Andes mountains at resorts like Valle Nevado, El Colorado, or Portillo.

Then, drive about 3-4 hours west to the coast to Chile’s surf capital, Pichilemu! It might be exhausting, but it is possible.

10. Chile’s national liquor is called “pisco.”

View of the Elqui Valley in northern Chile, where pisco is produced, showing green fields between mountainsPisco, a South American brandy from Chile’s Atacama and Coquimbo Regions, is a key ingredient in popular Chilean drinks like the pisco sour cocktail and piscola.

Chileans take pride in their pisco, even celebrating the “Day of the Piscola” on February 8.

However, an ongoing feud with Peru revolves around the authenticity of each country’s pisco. While Chile produces the largest quantity, Peru claims its pisco is more regulated, ensuring superior quality.

11. One of the world’s largest swimming pools is in Chile.

San Alfonso del Mar boasts the world’s second-largest swimming pool by area, totaling 80,000 m2 (860,000 square feet). It measures 3,323 feet long (1,013 m), which is more than 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools!

While it was the Guinness World Record holder upon completion in 2006, it lost the title of the biggest swimming pool in 2015 to Citystars Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt.

If you plan to visit San Alfonso del Mar, note that the pool is used for water activities rather than swimming.

12. Chile’s national dance is called “cueca.”

Couples dancing "cueca", a traditional Chilean dance, during Chilean "fiestas patrias"Cueca, a traditional dance symbolizing the courting ritual of a rooster and a hen, involves participants twirling a handkerchief in their right hand.

Frequently performed on the streets during Fiestas Patrias on September 18th—Chile’s independence celebration—Cueca was officially declared the national dance on September 18, 1979.9

13. Chile is the sixth-largest producer of wine in the world.

View of vineyard in Chile, showing rows of grape growing with a mountain in the distance in the Colchagua ValleyWhat is Chile known for? We’d say wine, thanks to its ideal climate and landscape, to grow grapes and produce wine.

The country’s history with wine dates back to 1554, when Spanish conquistadors and missionaries introduced Vitis vinifera vines to the region.

Ranking sixth in global wine production and fourth in exports (2022 data),10 Chile contributes about 5% of the world’s wine.

The country primarily grows Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Carmenère, leading globally in Carmenère cultivation and production.11

14. Many people mistake the Chilean flag for the Texan flag.

The Chilean flag waving on a sunny day, with a blue square in the corner with a white star and a white and red stripeBoth flags feature a white and red stripe and a white star on a blue field. However, the Chilean flag has a blue square in the top left corner, while the Texan flag has a blue stripe down its entire left side.

It’s common for Texans to mistakenly use the Chilean flag emoji, as the Texan flag doesn’t have one—yet. Worth noting, the Chilean flag predates the Texan flag by 22 years.

15. There are seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Chile.

View of the historic neighborhood in Valparaiso, Chile, showing colorful buildings along a hillsideThe first to be added was Rapa Nui National Park (1995), followed by the Churches of Chiloé (2000), the Historic Quarter of Valparaíso (2003), Humberstone and Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (2005), Sewell Mining Town (2006), and Qhapaq Ñan (2014).

The most recent site to be inscribed was the Archaeological sites of the Chinchorro culture (2021), also known as the Chinchorro mummies.12  These remains are believed to be some of the oldest mummies in the world.

16. Chile has around 2,900 volcanoes.

Close up view of Villarrica Volcano in southern ChileBeing in the Ring of Fire, Chile is home to numerous active volcanoes—approximately 90, though the exact count isn’t certain.13 The volcanoes with the highest number of documented eruptions are Llaima, Villarrica, and Antuco Volcano. 

For all of the adventure travelers out there, you can actually hike Villarrica Volcano in the Lake District in Southern Chile.

17. Chile is home to the tallest skyscraper in South America.

View of the Santiago, Chile, skyline at sunset with the Gran Torre Santiago appearing at the tallest buildingThe Gran Torre Santiago stands 62 stories high, holding the title for the tallest building in South America and the second-tallest in Latin America. It’s also the fourth-tallest skyscraper in the Southern hemisphere.

Completed in 2013 as part of Costanera Center, it’s 980 feet (300 meters) tall and features Sky Costanera, a popular 360° observation deck on floors 61 and 62, drawing tourists to Santiago.

18. Many consider Chile to be the world capital of astronomy.

Stargazing in Vicuna, Chile, showing incredibly clear night skyChile is a prime destination for stargazing, especially in the Atacama Desert, which rarely sees rain.

With 50% of the world’s light collection capacity, Northern Chile offers astronomers clear skies, minimal precipitation, and little light pollution from cities.

In fact, there are an average of over 300 clear nights per year here. With this in mind, the region hosts nearly 40 observatories, establishing Chile as a global hub for the scientific community in astronomy.

19. You can see penguins in Chile.

Five Magellanic penguins in Chile standing in line along the southern coast of the countryChile offers opportunities to observe penguins in their natural habitats, including Isla Damas near La Serena and the Seno Otway Penguin Reserve in Patagonia.

Magellanic penguins are found along the southern coastline, while Humboldt penguins reside in Northern Chilean regions III and IV.

The prime time for penguin sightings in Chile is usually between October and March.

20. Chile ranks as one of the leading consumers of bread globally.

Marraqueta bread in a basket in ChileChile ranks second globally in bread consumption, following Germany, with an astounding annual average of 86 kilograms (190 pounds) per person.14 

The “Marraqueta”, a crusty and delicious bread, takes the top spot as the most beloved bread variety here, symbolizing not just a dietary preference but an integral part of Chilean national identity and cultural connection.

That’s a wrap! We hope you learned something new today with these fun facts about Chile.

The first version of this article was published in June 2019 and has since been updated.


  2. Central Intelligence Agency. “Chile. The World Factbook. Retrieved December 28, 2022, from
  3. Pulido-Arcas, J. A., Pérez-Fargallo, A., & Rubio-Bellido, C. (2016). Multivariable regression analysis to assess energy consumption and CO2 emissions in the early stages of office design in Chile. Energy and Buildings133, 738-753.

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Carey DeLuca

Tuesday 9th of March 2021

My favorite country in the whole wide world. I live there in 2003 while attending La Catolica.

The 10 Most Common Chilean Slang Words: Lesson 1 in "Chilenismos" -

Sunday 22nd of December 2019

[…] Interested in learning more about this South American gem? Check out these 15 interesting facts about Chile. […]


Friday 20th of December 2019

[…] In the end, choosing between these cities is difficult and will come down to personal preference. If you’re dreaming of a modern city surrounded by mountains, you’ll love Santiago. If you prefer a European feel, you might prefer the Porteño experience. Whatever you choose, I hope that I have helped to make your decision easier! If you’d like to learn more about Argentina, read this detailed guide of facts about Argentina. For Chile, check out these 15 interesting facts about Chile.  […]

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