Charming Chile: the Land of Wonders, pt. 1
They say when God had almost finished creating the world, he had a bit of leftover soil, a drop of water from lakes and streams, some ice and fire, some desert, so he mixed everything together and created a narrow land called Chile. The diversity of landscape, nature, and Chilean life, in general, are true wonders. And this article will be the starting point of our tour of the fascinating country.
- According to some scholars, the name “Chile” has been derived from the word chilli, which came from the language of the native Chilean tribe Mapuche meaning “where the land ends.” There is another version of the name’s etymology – an onomatopoeic (sound imitation) word for the bird call from the very same language of the Mapuche -cheele-cheele.
- The flag of Chile was inspired by that of the State of Texas. It was adopted in 1817.
- The national flower of Chile is a vine with lily-like flowers called copihue. Its bell-shaped flowers can be white, pink, or red in color.
- Stretching for 2,647 miles from north to south, Chile is the longest country in the world.
- With its 330 sq mi of water surface, Lago Llanquihue is the second largest lake in South America. Btw, its name is translated from Mapuche as “a deep place.”
- A region of Chile, Patagonia, is one of the most ecologically pristine places on the planet. Interestingly enough, it got its name from Ferdinand Magellan, who, allegedly, was fascinated by the big feet that local people had (patagones meaning “big feet” in Spanish). Truth be told, locals did not have disproportionate feet – they just wrapped their lower limbs in animals skin for protection.
- Chile has the world’s most extended coastline – about 4,000 miles long.
- It also is the narrowest country of all, with the average width of 125 miles.
The Driest Place on Earth
- Located at the latitude of 7,500 feet, Atacama Desert is not only the driest place in Chile but in the whole wide world as well. Nevertheless, it offers exceptionally beautiful views within its vast territory that stretches from the Andes to the very Pacific Coast. We can’t rightfully use the word “never”, but since the beginning of records, some parts of the desert have not received a single drop of precipitation! In fact, the land is so dry there that it was used as a testing area for the machinery designed for Mars.
- Another phenomenon the Atacama is world-famous for is the geoglyphs found on one side of the Andes. One of the stone drawings is as big as 390 ft high and is said to picture a local deity.
- Easter Island belongs to an archipelago of the Pacific Islands and is probably the best known of them all for its 867 impressive 20-feet-high moai statues carved from volcanic rock.
- However, the island offers even more fascinations: almost 4.5 miles of lava tunnels running underground make the island home to the largest cave system on earth.
- The Pacific Islands belong to Chile, although they are 2,300 miles removed from the country’s coast.
Chile is also home to adorable penguins! Four species, to be exact, inhabit the Southern regions of the country. Among them, there are the Southern Rockhopper Penguins and Humboldt penguins, whose population amounts to 12,000 pairs. The birds enjoy themselves on the vast beaches and then retreat to nearby nests to breed.
- The Andes stretch alongside the whole length of Chile and occupy 80% of the country’s territory. Hence, only about 4% of Chile’s land is cultivatable.
- In the Andes, one can find the world’s biggest and most active volcanoes. Moreover, there are also more volcanoes than anywhere in the world – over 2,000! The biggest volcano is 22 thousand feet high, which makes it the second highest volcano in the world, and has the name of Llullaillaco, which can be roughly translated from Quechua as “false water” – probably a reference to the snow that covers the top of the volcano and melts only to be absorbed into the soil. Luckily, the massive volcano is dormant for the time being!
- With its vast even plateaus, the Andes have allegedly made great landing facilities for UFO, which explains the unusually numerous sightings of the flying saucers recorded in Chile. The country even has a government-supported UFO research program!
We will continue exploring Chile next week, as there are so many more wonders you should know about! And now, let’s complete our first trip to Chile with a short quiz!