Santiago de Chile
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Santiago de Chile, ciudad capital ubicada en el centro de este largo país austral sudamericano, goza de ser una de las ciudades con mayor avance en tecnología, telecomunicaciones y con un crecimiento económico reflejado en estos últimos años en su arquitectura, hoteles de categoría, sus obras viales, salud, etc. y además es una de las ciudades más seguras para el visitante extranjero. Ciudad agradable en su clima, considerando su latitud, acogida por el macizo andino del este, y de las agradables brisas veraniegas del atardecer, invitan al visitante a recorrerla y maravillarse desde la cumbre del cerro San Cristóbal de su espectacular crepúsculo. Elegida por la cumbre APEC, durante el mes de noviembre de 2004, abre las puertas del comercio económico bilateral Asia-Pacífico del continente, lo que pronostica buenos augurios de crecimiento para países limítrofes en desarrollo.
Visit to Santiago
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Image: Carlos Domínguez Hernández
Conozca Santiago de Chile y alrededores y disfrute el gran acogimiento que se ofrece al extranjero. Deleitese de su gastronomía, maravillese de su antigua arquitectura, de su música y de su arte.

Santiago city was founded by Pedro de Valdivia on February 12, 1541 with the name Santiago de Nueva Extremadura. The founding ceremony was held on Huelén Hill (later renamed Santa Lucía Hill). Valdivia chose the location of Santiago because of its climate and the ease with which it could be defended. This was because the Mapocho River split in two, and rejoined further downstream, forming an island.

With the help of the native Picunche Indians the first buildings were erected. The south bank of the Mapocho River was drained and converted into a public promenade, known as the Alameda (now Avenida Alameda Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins). The city was slightly damaged during the War of Independence (1810–18), in the Battle of Maipú, which was fought just out of the city. Santiago was named capital in 1818.

Climate
The climate in Santiago is mediterranean. With hot dry summers (November to March) with temperatures reaching to 35 Celsius on some days. The winters (June to August) are more humid with maximum temperatures of 15 being the norm, and minimums of a few degrees above freezing.

Mean rainfall is 360 mm per year.

Population
According to the latest census (2002), 4,668,473 people live in the city of Santiago. This represents roughly one third of the total population of Chile.

Political divisions
Santiago is divided into 32 municipalities (comunas in Spanish). Each municipality has a mayor (alcalde), who is chosen by vote, every four years. The members of the municipality (concejales) are elected in the same election on a separate ballot.

Culture
Palacio de la Moneda, Santiago De ChileSantiago is the current (2004) American Capital of Culture. The city also has the largest concentration of higher-education institutions in the country.

Music
There are two symphonic orchestras:
Orquesta Filarmónica de Santiago, which performs in the Teatro Municipal
Orquesta Sinfónica de Chile, dependent of the Universidad de Chile, performs in its theater.

Museums
Museums include:
Museo de Arte Precolombino (see http://www.precolombino.cl/)
Museo Histórico Nacional
Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo
Museo Interactivo Mirador
Museo Artequín
Museo de Ciencia y Tecnología
Museo Ferroviario
Museo de la Solidaridad "Salvador Allende"
See also: Grupo Montparnasse

Transport
Santiago has an extensive, if chaotic, privately-run bus system. The buses are typically colored yellow. This private system is in the process of being replaced by a new one called Transantiago (http://www.transantiago.cl) with larger, newer buses, and an improved payment system, which will be compatible with that already used by the "Metro" subway. The replacement process is expected to be completed by August, 2006.
There are three well-run Metro lines but their coverage is still somewhat limited. The Government is in various stages of building three additional Metro lines. See Metro Santiago (http://www.metrosantiago.cl/).
Taxicabs can usually be found on the streets, or, alternatively they can be called up by telephone (Radiotaxis). Colectivos are group taxicabs which carry passengers along a specific route, for a fixed fee.
There are train connections from Santiago to the southern part of the country. All depart from and arrive to the Estación Central (Central Station).
Private inter-urban bus companies provide excellent and cheap transportation from Santiago to virtually any part of the country.
Santiago's national and international airport is Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport.

Places to visit
Ex-Congreso NationalPalacio de La Moneda, government palace
The museums previously mentioned
Barrio Bellavista, cultural and bohemian spot
Santa Lucía Hill
San Cristóbal Hill
There are ski resorts within an hour's drive east from the city (Farellones, Valle Nevado, La Parva etc)
La Chascona, Pablo Neruda's house in Santiago
Santiago Metropolitan Park (Santiago Zoo), a zoo located on Cerro San Cristóbal
O'Higgins Park
Forestal Park, a park located at the city centre by the river Mapocho
Central Station, a railway station designed by Gustave Eiffel
National Stadium
Víctor Jara Stadium
Ex National Congress

Restaurants
Despite the abundance of pushy tourist places, several excellent restaurants, jazz clubs and nightclubs are found in the back streets of the Bella Vista district north of the river.
(in no particular order)

El Perseguidor (http://www.elperseguidor.cl/) - Calle Antonio López de Bello 0126, Bella Vista. Stylish Jazz Restaurant in Bella Vista with a creative menu and live music, visit the bathrooms and admire the unusual murals, while trying to decide whether you are a cat or a fish. (Nov 2004)
Azul Profundo - Constitución 111, Bella Vista, Probably one of the best seafood restaurants in Bella Vista; try the Atún de Isla Pascua; gets busy so reservations are recommended.
Off the record (http://www.offtherecord.cl/) - Cosy bohemian joint across the road from El perseguidor, with pleasant staff and good seafood (May 2004)
El otro Sitio - A pair of smart Peruvian restaurants with excellent food, one in Bellavista, and one in Borde Río.
Confiteria Torres (http://www.confiteriatorres.cl) - (Av. Liberador Bernardo O'Higgins 1570) Grand-Cafe styled restaurant/cafe with good food, on the pricey side.
Donde Augusto is the finest (and largest) seafood restaurant in the delightful Mercado Central
Bravissimo and Coppelia compete for the gelatto market with two-scoop cones going for roughly 700 pesos as of December 2003. The most interesting flavor is lúcuma, inspired by a local fruit that tastes something like pumpkin.
Dominó has several locations and is the healthiest and brightest of the soda fountains sprinkled across downtown

Environment
Thermal inversion during winter months (a process whereby a layer of warm air holds down cold, polluted air below) causes high levels of smog and air pollution to concentrate at ground level in the city. The Government has attempted to reduce pollution by giving incentives for heavy industry to move out of the Central valley but such measures have seen limited results.

The Mapocho river, which crosses the city from the north-east to the south-west, is contaminated by industrial and household waste, dumped unfiltered into the river, and by upstream copper-mining waste (there are a number of copper mines in the Andes east of Santiago). The central government recently passed a law that forces industry and local (comuna) governments to process all their wastewater by 2006. There are now a number of large wastewater processing and recycling plants under construction.

Sound levels on the main streets is high, mostly because of noisy diesel buses. Diesel trucks and buses are also major contributors to winter smog.
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Fotografía: Carlos Antonio Dominguez Hernandez
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