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Santiago
Santiago
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Location & Climate


Surrounded by the Andes mountains to the east and the coastal mountains to the west, Santiago sits in a natural bowl at an altitude of 543mts in the downtown area rising up to 800mts in the eastern up-market suburbs. One of the positive aspects to Santiago is the favourable Mediterranean climate it enjoys (average summer day time temperature is 30°C), with long, hot and usually cloudless summers running November to March. The summer is also a period of little smog. Rain, when it comes, is usually in June, July and August, meaning snow in the mountains and therefore skiing. One of the negative aspects to life in Santiago in the winter is its serious smog problem, especially bad in the months of June, July and August.
Santiago is the capital of Chile (Santiago de Chile) and today it is a modern, bustling, dynamic city that surprises newly arriving visitors who are expecting to find a "typical run-down Latin America city". Santiago is the fifth largest city in South America, home to over 5 million people and the central base for 50% of the county is manufacturing industry. Most of the business activity and areas of interest for visitors covers a linear zone that runs east from the downtown Santiago suburb ("comuna") into the suburbs of Providencia, Las Condes, Vitacura and Lo Barnechea and La Dehesa. The further East and higher you go from downtown Santiago the more affluent the area.


Places of Interest for the Visitor


The city offers the visitor many entertainment options and some interesting historical sites. It can be divided into five principal areas for the visitor: Downtown, offering a chance to see historical buildings and museums; Bellavista, a bohemian district between downtown and main Providencia that comes alive at night and is full of interesting bars and restaurants; Providencia, a redeveloped suburb that is full of bars and nightclubs; the recently re-developed areas within Las Condes and Vitacura that boast numerous modern, tall office and apartment blocks, good restaurants, modern supermarkets, well surfaced roads and state of the art underground car parking.
There is an impressively modern, clean and safe metro system that runs five lines. The principal line, Line 1, runs through the middle of the Downtown area and all the way east passing through Providencia and terminating in Las Condes. For the visitor, the metro Line 1 should be all you need in order to get around. Alternatively, taxis are plentiful and relatively inexpensive. The modern bus system, launched in 2007, offers modern, regular buses, but there are not enough of them and the result is serious overcrowding at peak times.

Be Sensible 


Santiago is a relatively safe city, however, in every country and every city in the world there will always be opportunists and professional criminals. If you are a foreigner and are off your guard you could be a target for a thief. Be sensible and do not walk around with a big camera around your neck, a bulging wallet that can be seen and watch where you put your coat and bag in open-air restaurants.


Principal Places of Interest
Downtown Day Time


Museo de Arte Precolombino
Metro Stop: Universidad de Chile (northern exit).
Bandera 361 corner with Compania, Downtown.
Closed Monday. Tue to Fri 10:00hrs to 18:00hrs. Sat, Sun and Holidays 10:00hrs to 14:00hrs.
One of the best museums in South America that chronicles over 4,000 years of pre-Columbian civilization.


Iglesia de San Francisco 
Metro Stop: Universidad de Chile (southern exit).
Constructed between 1586 and 1628 (44 years), this is the OLDEST building in Santiago having survived three major earthquakes. The small carved Virgin del Socorro on the main alter, was brought to Chile by Pedro de Valdivia, on his saddle, in 1541.


Museo Colonial de San Francisco
Alameda 834, Downtown.
Metro Line 1: Universidad de Chile, southern exit.
Located along the side of the San Francisco church (dating back to 1618 having survived all the earthquakes, entrance is by the church). Colonial building displaying numerous artefacts and an attractive central garden.


Bario Paris-Londres (Historic Area) 
Metro Line 1: Universidad de Chile, southern exit.
A small, historic area located behind, but close to the San Francisco church. Narrow streets and interesting architecture.


Palacio de la Moneda Presidential Palace (formally the Royal Mint
Metro Line 1: La Moneda.
Located between streets Morande and Teatinos in the centre of Downtown.
Built between 1784 and 1805 (21 years) under the supervision of Italian architect Joaquin Toesca, the low-lying, Neoclassical, symmetrical building was the Royal Mint, which is where the name "moneda" came from because "moneda" mean money. However, after forty years it was used as the residential palace for Chilean presidents starting with Manuel Bulnes in 1848 and ending with Carlos Ibanez in 1958 when it stopped being the residential address of the president BUT continued to be the official seat of government from where the president works. Recently renovated, the Palace interior courtyards are open to the public during the day.


La Plaza de Armas
Metro Line 5: Plaza de Armas
The OFFICIAL centre of Santiago and CHILE. This where the national road distances are measured from. The first public space laid out by Pedro de Valdivia in 1541 when he constructed a fort, hence the name Plaza de Armas (Plaza of Arms). It is in this area where people used to congregate and come to market. A number of important buildings such as the Cathedral, Governor is Palace and the Law Courts were built close the plaza.


Correo Central (Central Post Office)
One of the historic buildings built beside the Plaza de Armas. Built in 1882 on the foundations of what was previously the Governor is residence which later became the Presidential Palace, during the colonial period.


Museo Historico Nacional (National History Museum)
Also beside the Plaza de Armas and next to the "Correo Central", built by the Spanish Crown between 1804 and 1807 as a court house, however, after just three years the first military junta met here in 1810 to plan the overthrow of the Spanish Governor. Eight years later it was used as the first Congress building and then became the seat of government until 1846 when President Bulnes moved it to La Moneda.


Cathedral
Located beside the "Plaza de Armas", on the corner close to the "Correo Central". Built in 1785, with Italian influence in its design from the Italian architect Joaquin Toesca who also designed La Moneda Palace. It is the FIFTH church to be on this site as the previous buildings were demolished by native Indians or earthquakes (1552, 1647 and 1730).


Mercado Central (Central Food Market & Restaurants) 
I. Valdes Vergara 900, Downtown.
Metro Line 2: Cal y Canto
The building was constructed between 1868 and 1872 with sections pre-fabricated in England, designed by Fermin Vivaceta for the purpose of exhibiting works of art but it quickly became used as a market. Today the market is still active and it is an interesting place to eat. A number of restaurants that specialize in fish dishes surround the principal hall where one can eat and admire the fish, meat and vegetables on display amid the flurry of market activity.


Museo de Bellas Artes (Beautiful Arts Museum)
Parque Forestal, Downtown.
Metro Line 1: Santa Lucia, northern exit.
Santiago is fine arts museum, displaying permanent collections of French, Italian, Dutch and Chilean paintings and often hosting very interesting visiting exhibits.


Museo Arqueologico de Santiago 
Lastarria 321, Downtown.
Metro Line 1: Universidad Catolica.
Set amid an historical small neighbourhood, with interesting cafes and art galleries, this museum offers a number of exhibits from the indigenous peoples of Chile.


Cerro Santa Lucia
Metro Line 1: Santa Lucia.
History tells us that THIS is the spot where Pedro de Valdivia officially founded the new settlement of "Santiago de la Nueva Extremadura" (named after his birth town in Spain) on February 12, 1541, some 463 years ago! At that time the region was populated by native Mapuche Indians, scattered around the valleys and hills of the Central Valley.
When Valdivia arrived, Santa Lucia hill was barren and rocky yet to-day it is covered in lush vegetation and has beautiful gardens in which to walk. It was mostly ignored until 1872 when Vicuna Mackenna (the intendente, or mayor) oversaw the construction of new streets and turned Santa Lucia into a terraced garden for "the people" with the help of over 150 prisoners.


Teatro Municipal 
Agustinas corner with San Antonio, Downtown.
Metro Line 1: Santa Lucia.
Opera and Ballet March to December. Tel: 633 2549


Palacio Cousino (Colonial Home)
Dieciocho 438, Downtown.
Taxi needed or a good walk from Metro Line 1: Los Heroes.
An elaborate 19th-century mansion dating back to 1871. Built by the Cousino family from wealth accumulated from coal and silver mining. Well preserved images from an elite life. Open: Tues - Sun: 09:30hrs - 12:30hrs. 14:30hrs -16:00hrs. Tel: 698 5063


Barrio Bellavista
Nearest Metro: Baquedano
Located on the other side of the Mapocho river a short walk from Baquedano metro station and at the foot of the San Cristobal hill. Known primarily as the Bohemian district, Bellavista (Beautiful View) comes to life at night and offers the visitor numerous restaurants and bars to dine and drink at.


Suecia and General Holley 
Nearest Metro Los Leones.
Located in the heart of Providencia. An area of bars with live music and some restaurants, but a place for young people. Has recently gone downmarket.


Providencia Day Time


Museo Neruda La Chascona 
Nearest Metro: Baquedano
One of the houses where Chilean Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda once lived. Located in a short street just off the main Pio Nono road. Tel: 737 8712 for tours (closed on Monday).


Cerro San Cristobal 
The hill on top of which is a statue of the Virgin Mary. Access is from metro stop Baquedano, on foot to the end of the street Pio-Nono which runs through Barrio Bellavista and then up to the funicular railway (Mon 13:00hrs to 20:30hrs; Tue to Sun 10:30hrs to 20:00hrs) or to the northern end of the street Pedro de Valdivia and onto the teleferic cable car (Mon to Fri 14:30hrs to 20:00hrs;Sat, Sun and Public Holidays 10:30hrs to 20:00hrs).
The highest point is at 880 m. The Virgin Mary statue, seen from almost every point in the city was sculptured by Frenchman Jaconetti out of metal and given to Chile by France in 1908. The entire hill or cerro comprises the Parque Metropolitana, covering 712 hectares which makes it one of the largest parks in the world. Getting to the top will enable the visitor to enjoy a panoramic view over Santiago and incredible unspoilt views of the Andes on one side and the Precordillera Mountains on the other. There are restaurants and cafes at the top as well as two swimming pools. Cyclists and hikers as well as those who like the funicular railway or teleferic cable car enjoy the park to its full. One suggestion is to go up on the funicular railway and down on the teleferic cable car.


Shopping and Restaurants 
Metro: Pedro de Valdivia and Los Leones Specifically around the streets Suecia and General Holley (north exit Los Leones metro) are numerous bars and restaurants. Los Leones, south exit will lead you into a principal department store and close by are other shops and a mall.


Location & Climate


Surrounded by the Andes mountains to the east and the coastal mountains to the west, Santiago sits in a natural bowl at an altitude of 543mts in the downtown area rising up to 800mts in the eastern up-market suburbs. One of the positive aspects to Santiago is the favourable Mediterranean climate it enjoys (average summer day time temperature is 30°C), with long, hot and usually cloudless summers running November to March. The summer is also a period of little smog. Rain, when it comes, is usually in June, July and August, meaning snow in the mountains and therefore skiing. One of the negative aspects to life in Santiago in the winter is its serious smog problem, especially bad in the months of June, July and August.
Santiago is the capital of Chile (Santiago de Chile) and today it is a modern, bustling, dynamic city that surprises newly arriving visitors who are expecting to find a "typical run-down Latin America city". Santiago is the fifth largest city in South America, home to over 5 million people and the central base for 50% of the county is manufacturing industry. Most of the business activity and areas of interest for visitors covers a linear zone that runs east from the downtown Santiago suburb ("comuna") into the suburbs of Providencia, Las Condes, Vitacura and Lo Barnechea and La Dehesa. The further East and higher you go from downtown Santiago the more affluent the area.


Places of Interest for the Visitor


The city offers the visitor many entertainment options and some interesting historical sites. It can be divided into five principal areas for the visitor: Downtown, offering a chance to see historical buildings and museums; Bellavista, a bohemian district between downtown and main Providencia that comes alive at night and is full of interesting bars and restaurants; Providencia, a redeveloped suburb that is full of bars and nightclubs; the recently re-developed areas within Las Condes and Vitacura that boast numerous modern, tall office and apartment blocks, good restaurants, modern supermarkets, well surfaced roads and state of the art underground car parking.
There is an impressively modern, clean and safe metro system that runs five lines. The principal line, Line 1, runs through the middle of the Downtown area and all the way east passing through Providencia and terminating in Las Condes. For the visitor, the metro Line 1 should be all you need in order to get around. Alternatively, taxis are plentiful and relatively inexpensive. The modern bus system, launched in 2007, offers modern, regular buses, but there are not enough of them and the result is serious overcrowding at peak times.


Be Sensible 


Santiago is a relatively safe city, however, in every country and every city in the world there will always be opportunists and professional criminals. If you are a foreigner and are off your guard you could be a target for a thief. Be sensible and do not walk around with a big camera around your neck, a bulging wallet that can be seen and watch where you put your coat and bag in open-air restaurants.


Principal Places of Interest
Downtown Day Time


Museo de Arte Precolombino
Metro Stop: Universidad de Chile (northern exit).
Bandera 361 corner with Compania, Downtown.
Closed Monday. Tue to Fri 10:00hrs to 18:00hrs. Sat, Sun and Holidays 10:00hrs to 14:00hrs.
One of the best museums in South America that chronicles over 4,000 years of pre-Columbian civilization.


Iglesia de San Francisco 
Metro Stop: Universidad de Chile (southern exit).
Constructed between 1586 and 1628 (44 years), this is the OLDEST building in Santiago having survived three major earthquakes. The small carved Virgin del Socorro on the main alter, was brought to Chile by Pedro de Valdivia, on his saddle, in 1541.


Museo Colonial de San Francisco
Alameda 834, Downtown.
Metro Line 1: Universidad de Chile, southern exit.
Located along the side of the San Francisco church (dating back to 1618 having survived all the earthquakes, entrance is by the church). Colonial building displaying numerous artefacts and an attractive central garden.


Bario Paris-Londres (Historic Area) 
Metro Line 1: Universidad de Chile, southern exit.
A small, historic area located behind, but close to the San Francisco church. Narrow streets and interesting architecture.


Palacio de la Moneda Presidential Palace (formally the Royal Mint)
Metro Line 1: La Moneda.
Located between streets Morande and Teatinos in the centre of Downtown.
Built between 1784 and 1805 (21 years) under the supervision of Italian architect Joaquin Toesca, the low-lying, Neoclassical, symmetrical building was the Royal Mint, which is where the name "moneda" came from because "moneda" mean money. However, after forty years it was used as the residential palace for Chilean presidents starting with Manuel Bulnes in 1848 and ending with Carlos Ibanez in 1958 when it stopped being the residential address of the president BUT continued to be the official seat of government from where the president works. Recently renovated, the Palace interior courtyards are open to the public during the day.


La Plaza de Armas
Metro Line 5: Plaza de Armas
The OFFICIAL centre of Santiago and CHILE. This where the national road distances are measured from. The first public space laid out by Pedro de Valdivia in 1541 when he constructed a fort, hence the name Plaza de Armas (Plaza of Arms). It is in this area where people used to congregate and come to market. A number of important buildings such as the Cathedral, Governor is Palace and the Law Courts were built close the plaza.


Correo Central (Central Post Office)
One of the historic buildings built beside the Plaza de Armas. Built in 1882 on the foundations of what was previously the Governor is residence which later became the Presidential Palace, during the colonial period.


Museo Historico Nacional (National History Museum)
Also beside the Plaza de Armas and next to the "Correo Central", built by the Spanish Crown between 1804 and 1807 as a court house, however, after just three years the first military junta met here in 1810 to plan the overthrow of the Spanish Governor. Eight years later it was used as the first Congress building and then became the seat of government until 1846 when President Bulnes moved it to La Moneda.


Cathedral
Located beside the "Plaza de Armas", on the corner close to the "Correo Central". Built in 1785, with Italian influence in its design from the Italian architect Joaquin Toesca who also designed La Moneda Palace. It is the FIFTH church to be on this site as the previous buildings were demolished by native Indians or earthquakes (1552, 1647 and 1730).


Mercado Central (Central Food Market & Restaurants) 
I. Valdes Vergara 900, Downtown.
Metro Line 2: Cal y Canto
The building was constructed between 1868 and 1872 with sections pre-fabricated in England, designed by Fermin Vivaceta for the purpose of exhibiting works of art but it quickly became used as a market. Today the market is still active and it is an interesting place to eat. A number of restaurants that specialize in fish dishes surround the principal hall where one can eat and admire the fish, meat and vegetables on display amid the flurry of market activity.


Museo de Bellas Artes (Beautiful Arts Museum)
Parque Forestal, Downtown.
Metro Line 1: Santa Lucia, northern exit.
Santiago is fine arts museum, displaying permanent collections of French, Italian, Dutch and Chilean paintings and often hosting very interesting visiting exhibits.


Museo Arqueologico de Santiago 
Lastarria 321, Downtown.
Metro Line 1: Universidad Catolica.
Set amid an historical small neighbourhood, with interesting cafes and art galleries, this museum offers a number of exhibits from the indigenous peoples of Chile.


Cerro Santa Lucia
Metro Line 1: Santa Lucia.
History tells us that THIS is the spot where Pedro de Valdivia officially founded the new settlement of "Santiago de la Nueva Extremadura" (named after his birth town in Spain) on February 12, 1541, some 463 years ago! At that time the region was populated by native Mapuche Indians, scattered around the valleys and hills of the Central Valley.
When Valdivia arrived, Santa Lucia hill was barren and rocky yet to-day it is covered in lush vegetation and has beautiful gardens in which to walk. It was mostly ignored until 1872 when Vicuna Mackenna (the intendente, or mayor) oversaw the construction of new streets and turned Santa Lucia into a terraced garden for "the people" with the help of over 150 prisoners.

 

Teatro Municipal 
Agustinas corner with San Antonio, Downtown.
Metro Line 1: Santa Lucia.
Opera and Ballet March to December. Tel: 633 2549


Palacio Cousino (Colonial Home)
Dieciocho 438, Downtown.
Taxi needed or a good walk from Metro Line 1: Los Heroes.
An elaborate 19th-century mansion dating back to 1871. Built by the Cousino family from wealth accumulated from coal and silver mining. Well preserved images from an elite life. Open: Tues - Sun: 09:30hrs - 12:30hrs. 14:30hrs -16:00hrs. Tel: 698 5063


Barrio Bellavista
Nearest Metro: Baquedano
Located on the other side of the Mapocho river a short walk from Baquedano metro station and at the foot of the San Cristobal hill. Known primarily as the Bohemian district, Bellavista (Beautiful View) comes to life at night and offers the visitor numerous restaurants and bars to dine and drink at.


Suecia and General Holley 
Nearest Metro Los Leones.
Located in the heart of Providencia. An area of bars with live music and some restaurants, but a place for young people. Has recently gone downmarket.


Las Condes Day Time


Shopping 
Two modern shopping malls dominate Las Condes and these are Parque Arauco and Alto Las Condes. Both are spacious, clean and new, offering the visitor plenty of choice and well known brand products. Both are located along Avda. Kennedy and are known by all taxi drivers.


Artesanal Shopping
There are three good places to buy typical Chilean handy craft products and these are Los Dominicos, Vitacura and Apumanque. Los Dominicos is located behind a church of the same name and offers the visitor a chance to wander around a colonial setting whilst looking at what to buy. Vitacura, located along the street called Vitacura and Apumanque, located behind the shopping mall called Apumanque offer great products from a number of stores. 


Night Life 


Barrio El Golf 
Metro: Tobalaba or El Golf north exits Up-market business and commercial zone, host to numerous good restaurants and bars along the El Bosque Norte and Isidora Goyenechea streets.


Vitacura Night Life  


Avenida Vitacura runs near to the Mapocho river and is home to many new restaurants. Another good spot is Borde Rio, located on Monsenor Escriva de Balaguer 6,400, beside the Mapocho river. Great place for evening drinks and meals during the summer.


Santiago Public Transport


Public transport throughout Chile is generally very good. Santiago boasts an exceptionally clean and modern underground metro system, a modern fleet of eco-buses, thousands of taxis and “colectivo” taxis that follow a set route, and inter-city buses offer an extremely comfortable and inexpensive way to travel between the cities. As far as aeronautical services are concerned, Lan Chile offers a modern fleet of aircraft linking all main cities the length of the country.
 

Public Bus Network
In 2007 the public bus transport system underwent a complete overhaul and the older, noisy, polluting buses were taken off the streets to be replaced by modern, eco-friendly, quieter buses and operated by a new company called Transantiago. The only problem was that not enough of these new buses were put onto the streets and this, combined with a change in the bus routes resulted in complete chaos for people using the bus and metro network.
The system is now better, but still congested. There are now designated bus stops from where passengers can board buses, whereas before the introduction of the Transantiago system buses would stop anywhere. Passengers MUST have a PREPAID ticket called a "BIP" ticket, only available for purchase at specified sales points, including in the Metro stations as the Metro and Transantiago operate a combined ticketing system. The prepaid cards operate via a swipe system as you board the bus or go through the metro platform entrance gate.


Taxi
Taxis vary between the good level with good driver to less-than-reliable with questionable drivers. By law the taxi has to operate a taxi metre and give you a receipt.


“Colectivo” Taxi
This is a taxi that follows a set route and has a set fare i.e. not metered.


Metro
In Santiago, the metro is excellent, clean, reliable and cheap. You need to by a "Bip" prepaid card prior to travelling on the metro and this will be automatically swiped each time you pass through the platform entrance barrier.


Inter-City Public Buses
nter-city public transport is usually very good. For long journeys the busses offer executive class comfort and on-board services.
Santiago Principal Intercity Bus Stations are:
For North &South: Terminal de Buses Santiago, Metro Universidad de Santiago (Southern Exit).
For Vina del Mar/Valpariso: Terminal de Buses Alameda, Metro Universidad de Santiago (Southern Exit).
For North & South: Terminal de Buses San Borja, Metro Estacion Central (Southern Exit).
For Argentina: Terminal de Buses Santiago, Metro Universidad de Santiago (Southern Exit).

Santiago and Chilean History


What follows is a very brief, chronological breakdown of the most important events that have led to the creation of the Santiago and Chile we know of today.

1500 is The Spanish, who conquered practically all of the America’s, had its colonial power based in the region in Lima, Peru. Chile was then a backwater - not considered particularly important and only a place “yet to be explored”.  

1536 Diego de Almagro led an expedition, on horse back, from Peru into Chile but did not get anywhere near to the future site of Santiago because the journey was fraught with difficulty.  

1541 Pedro de Valdivia 
The man bestowed with the honour of being the original Spanish conquistador was Pedro de Valdivia. In 1540 he led an expedition from Peru to Chile arriving in 1541 to the site of where Santiago is today. Valdivia "founded" Santiago at the foot of the hill called "Huelen" (by the indigenous natives), but renamed it "Santa Lucia". He organised a local form of government and set about mining in the areas that were rumoured to have had gold during the Inca period, but he and his men endured constant attacks from native Indians who were trying to repel them. It was clear that a more secure base was required and they set about building an infrastructure which led to the development of a fort and aptly named it the "Plaza de Armas" (Armed Plaza). Shortly after completion of the new plaza many of the buildings were destroyed by the rebellious, native Mapuche Indians.
  Naturally the new settlers set about rebuilding and stuck to within the limits of the natural boundaries of the Mapocho River and Santa Lucia hill. Urban development continued to grow for the next decade and began to resemble a Colonial settlement of importance. However, the "Conquistadores" were here in search of mineral wealth and therefore "followed their noses" to the south of Chile to the area of Arauco, deserting Santiago which then became more of a staging post.

1553 A violent backlash from the southern Mapuche Indians forced the Spanish invaders to retreat back to Santiago, reigniting population growth in Santiago once again.  

1586 Construction on the "Iglesia de San Francisco" (Church) began and continued over a 44 year period until 1630. The church holds an item, which is on display, that Pedro de Valdivia brought with him on horse back all the way from Peru. Chile was now governed from Lima as part of the Viceroyalty of Peru and forced to trade with Spain via Lima. Restrictions were put in place to forbid "Chile” (not yet a country in its own right) to trade directly with any other country, which resulted in uncontrolled smuggling.  

  The Spanish Crown, as “owners” of the nation state called Chile decides to divide agricultural land and large houses between the leading families in Chile who, as a result, became extremely powerful and rich. With large swathes of land being owned by so few people, including the Jesuit church, a new underclass was created and known as "inquilinos". The “inquilinos” were only given permission to farm by the land owners if they worked for the land owner, thus creating a “serfdom” of workers who were at the mercy of the land owners they served.

Early economic demand focused on livestock as horses because leather and grease were needed to supply the mines in Bolivia as well as the continuing war against the Mapuche Indians in Chile.

1687 A massive earthquake destroys the wheat crop in Peru, which then enabled the superior quality Chilean wheat to fill gap and supply the miners working there. This, in turn, led to a rise in the price of Chilean wheat which determined the price of land in Chile throughout the 18th century. Consequently any person owning land had the opportunity to increase his wealth, whilst the workers only continued to be workers, receiving as little pay as the landowners could get away with.

1740 Direct trade with Spain was now permitted. 

1750 Chile is allowed to mint its own currency.
  
1760 It is accepted, or agreed, that tenants working the land should provide a son or daughter to the landlord for household duties i.e. a maid. By the end of the 18th century, after 250 years of colonial rule, Santiago had virtually been destroyed, once by native Indians and twice by massive earthquakes. The population at this time was circa 50,000 people. 
 
1808Independence and Political Unrest
The French, under Napoleon, successfully invaded Spain resulting in confusion among the Spanish colonies as to where their allegiance lay, this in turn weakened Spanish colonial military control, which led to the beginning of the independence movement.

1810 A local military "junta" was formed. This "junta", along with patriots loyal to the Chilean independence movement fought many battles against troops loyal to the Spanish crown. These battles continued through to 1818. 

1818 “President” Bernardo OHiggins
The illegitimate son of a Peruvian Viceroy, Chile is first elected leader following independence from Spain in 1818.

 There were two key men who played a vital role in bringing independence to Chile. One was Bernardo OHiggins, born in 1778 in Chillan (southern Chile) as the illegitimate son of an Irishman, Ambrose OHiggins. Ambrose OHiggins rose up through the Spanish colonial ranks to become Governor of Chile and then Viceroy of Peru. Ambrose sent Bernardo to London to be educated and during his time there he met with a number of exiles who were plotting to overthrow their own Spanish rulers. In 1882, after his father died, Bernardo returned to Chile to inherit his father’s estate and take his surname: O’Higgins. Bernardo OHiggins led his own army of men to take on the Spanish Royalists, but after one serious defeat he retreated over the Andes to nearby Mendoza, in Argentina, where he met up and joined forces with the other key player in the Chile independence movement: Jose San Martin de Los Andes. San Martin de Los Andes had been planning to enter Chile from Argentina and overthrow the Spanish too. OHiggins and San Martin de Los Andes joined forces and after winning a major battle in 1818 at Rancagua (just south of Santiago) OHiggins was asked to be the "Supreme Director" of the newly independent Chile.

  Independence was officially claimed in February 1818 with Bernardo OHiggins as head of the first Chilean government. As you travel throughout Chile you will notice a street named after him in almost every Chilean city, town or village. Independence day is, however, celebrated on the 18 September each year and known as the “dieciocho”, which means 18.

  After independence from Spain, which was 277 years after Pedro de Valdivia, first arrived, Santiago began its journey to become a serious urban base.

1822 Valparaiso was declared a free port by the independent administration, which enabled it to develop into an important financial centre and principal through-fare for business connected to the booming nitrate mining in the north and successful cattle ranching in southern Patagonia. Also at this time over 30 canals were constructed in the fertile, central valley, to provide much needed irrigation to the crop and fruit farming in this area.  

1851 The first vineyards begin to appear.  

1879 Arturo Pratt and “The War of the Pacific”

Chilean naval hero who led the winning naval battle against Peru.
On 21 May 1879 Pratt, on board the Chilean ship Esmeralda, beat the Peruvians in a maritime battle off the Pacific off near to Iquique. This led to Chile gaining all the land north of Iquique and up to Arica and in the process also cutting off Bolivia from the sea at the same time.

1900 The first significant fruit harvest is reaped. Santiago is booming from mining and agriculture. New constructions go up and areas are gentrified (Santa Lucia Park), but the vast majority of the population lives as servants to the rich land owners.

With a growing economy people came to Chile to make money and live well. Large houses and mansions were built. The State commissioned the construction of a new Congress building and Municipal Theatre. It was the newly-arriving Europeans who drove the pace as they set about recreating the kind of European environment they were used to, but leaving the poorer natives and mix-raced peoples to fill in where they could many flocking to Santiago in search of a better life, but often living in simple shacks and treated as second-rate citizens.

  As the Santiago entered the 20th century it expanded eastwards, towards the magnificent Andes mountains, creating new "barrio altos" (literally meaning “higher settlements” in terms of new wealth and altitude). Many large farming properties (haciendas), a result of land being handed down the family line from the days of the Spanish conquerors, are broken down into smaller holdings thus forcing agricultural workers to leave the land they worked to look for more affluent work in the nitrate mines and in Santiago. The Santiago population is now around 600,000 people.

  Telephone lines go up. The Panamerican highway is constructed north and south from the capital. Hydro electricity provides energy. Demand from the USA and Europe to fuel World War II provides a boost to the economy.

1920 The nitrate mining industry collapses, which leads into the 1920 great depression, which leads to social tension and unrest.

1952 The population in Santiago reaches over 1 million people.

1970 Pressure is on to reform the land ownership problem (too few land owners with vast swathes of land and too many poor people with nothing).

President Salvador Allende (in power: 1970 – 1973)
The first ever openly-elected communist leader who ruled Chile as president from 1970 to 1973 when he was ousted from power by a bloody coup.

On September 4, 1970, Salvador Allende, a declared Marxist, headed a coalition of socialist parties and was democratically elected president, with a slim majority, by the poor people in the belief that he would be able to provide the changes needed for them to have a better life.

One half of the country was happy, but the other half – the richer half - was very concerned that the country would become a communist state like Cuba. Allende had good intentions to help the poor, but unfortunately his government programs resulted in severe economic chaos with his policy of expropriation confiscating land from land owners and literally giving it to the workers who had no idea how to manage it. Such dramatic measures only fuelled a movement against him. With the entire country in economic meltdown it was not long before the people, everywhere,  demanded change. There is tension in the streets, with people having to queue 24 hrs for a loaf of bread. Garages had no fuel. People scream to uniformed police and army personnel to “do something”. There are rumours that Allende and his supporters had imported arms from Cuba to fight an anticipated coup from the military.

President Agusto Pinochet (in power: 1973 – 1990)
In 1973 Allende, anticipating an imminent coup appoints Agusto Pinochet as head of the Chilean army thinking that by replacing the previous army leader he would be safe. However, shortly after his appointment Pinochet led the armed forces in a coup against Allende. The Palace of La Moneda is bombed by the Chilean air force and Allende is found dead in his office. General Pinochet takes control and runs the country with an “iron fist” as well as implementing free market economic practices under policies drawn up by economic whiz-kinds from the University of Chicago. Over the period that followed, the economy went from boom to bust followed by a prolonged period of economic growth.

The coup was seen by the army as a "military mission" to save the country (much as the ongoing occupation in Iraq in 2006). General Pinochet ruled Chile for an unbroken 17-year period until 1990, during which time thousands of people with communist or socialist tendencies are said to have been tortured and went missing. On October 5 1988 a plebiscite was held to see if the people wanted a continuation of military rule or free elections. By a slim majority, considering that he had been in power for so long and that he was supposed to be an “evil dictator”, people voted 55% in favour of elections to 45% to continue with Pinochet (it should be noted that many governments get elected to power with a “mandate” on less than 45% of the vote). The following year, on December 14, 1989, the left-of centre-politician Patricio Alywin was elected as Chile is new president and military rule ended. Pinochet continued as head of the army for a few years as a way of ensuring that the newly-elected administration “behaved” itself.

During his presidency Pinochet has been credited for "saving" Chile from terrible economic decline and a communist take over, ridding the country of "the enemy" (Marxist forces backed by Cuba who were on the verge of ruling the country by force prior to the coup), to being accused of running a brutal regime that abused peoples’ human rights by use of ruthless torture and the cold killing of civilians.

It has been reported in the press that the coup was "supported" by the then US government (the CIA) which, at the time, was hell bent on any effort to counteract the "advancement of Communism anywhere in the world". Depending on which side of the political spectrum you are on the coup was either the best thing to happen to Chile or a vile and ruthless dictatorship that abused peoples’ human rights. Consequently, Pinochet is seen as a hero by roughly half the Chilean population (those on the right of the political spectrum, who are also generally those people with financial wealth) and an evil villain by t