Chile is a long skinny country slammed up against the west coast of Argentina. Itís 4300 km long, but only 240 km wide, with the Andes Mountains forming the border between Chile and its neighbor to the east. To the west, Chile falls away into the Pacific Ocean. In between, Chileís landscape is a study in contradictions. The north is home to the Atacama, one of earthís driest deserts To the south, Chile is a rain-drenched mosaic of lakes, waterfalls, and thermal hot springs. Hundreds of mist shrouded islands jut from the seas of the Chiloť Archipelago.
The archipelago has kayaking tours where boats glide amidst islands studded with moss covered churches and houses built on stilts, where the indigenous Araucanians have their homes. Chile has pristine rainforests and volcanoes for eco-tourists, and for those seeking the fast lane, the city of Santiago is as urban as urban gets. Yes, its smoggy, but it is also a patchwork of diverse communities, called comunas, where lifestyles and architecture varies wildly. Within the same city one finds both towers of modern industry and sleepy village modesty. Easter Island, 3700 km off in the Pacific, is a possession of Chile. Planes from Santiago depart frequently to that destination.