LA_Chile_night skyline view of Santiago_SS_TifonimagesSituated in the Central Valley and with a population of six million, Santiago has grown to become the sixth largest city in South America, as well as the political, economic and cultural capital of Chile. The city is crossed from east to west by the long-suffering Río Mapocho, into which most of the city's sewage is dumped; however, the magnificent chain of the Andes provides a more appropriate natural landmark.

It is easy to see Santiago as just another westernized Latin American city but, away from the centre and wealthier suburbs, the reality is more complicated. Street vendors are often newly arrived from rural areas, many living in appalling villas miserias on the city's outskirts (Pudahuel and La Pintana are both especially chastening barrios for those who claim that poverty does not exist in Chile). Some barrios in the south of the city have a higher concentration of Mapuche people than the Mapuche heartlands of the south.

If you are just passing through, Santiago is unlikely to be the highlight of your trip to Chile - it can take a while to get a real feeling for the city's pulse. However, if you have the time, it does warrant a visit of a few days. On top of its setting and nightlife, there are excellent museums, and you will find that the contrast with the rest of the country is stark: over a third of Chileans live in Gran Santiago, so, if you want to understand the country you are visiting, Santiago is a must.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
Products in this Region

South American Handbook 2016

South America is epic. Home to the world's highest waterfall, the longest mountain range and the...

Patagonia Handbook

Patagonia is a pioneering land of vast horizons and limitless possibilities. Footprint's Patagonia...

Chile Handbook

A place of extremes and contradictions, Chile is home to a bewilderingly diverse geography and...
PDF Downloads

  No PDFs currently available

Digital Products

Available NOW!