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Santiago de Chile is the capital of Chili. It's the political, economical and social center of the country with a large supply of museums, events, theaters and restaurants. Because of its central location it's also a good basis to visit other parts of Chili.
About 5.5 million people live in the entire urban area of the Chilean capital and surroundings.
Santiago is centrally located in Chili in a wide and fertile valley. To the east of this valley lies the Andes, to the west the Chilean Coastal Range. East of town, on the border with Argentina, lies the Tupungato volcano (6570 m).
Chilean economy has grown steadily in the last few years and this turned Santiago into one of the most modern cities of Latin America. Many multinationals have their regional headquarters in the city and Santiago is also an important financial center. Because Santiago is the capital, the national government also provides much employment.
Santiago de Chili's airport is situated just northwest of the city. Merino Benítez International Airport is easily reachable by rental car via one of the city's freeways (Costanera Norte or Vespucio Norte). Outside of rush hour it doesn't take more than fifteen minutes to get from the center to the airport.
Santiago has an ultramodern public transportation system. First of all the city has an efficient metro system that is constantly being extended. At the moment there are five lines, with which you can quickly reach most districts of the Chilean capital. The metro trains stop at 11 p.m. but then (aboveground) busses take over along the same route. City bus transportation is also extremely modern and efficient. For all public transportation you need a so-called Bip! card. You can buy it at many places.
Although Santiago is a busy business and tourist city, you will have no problems finding your way around in a rental car. The roads are excellent and signposting is good. Around the center there's a beltway and part of the main roads through the center are underground, underneath the river Mapocho.
Finding a free parking space in the street can be a problem but fortunately there are many parking garages in and around the city center where you can safely park your car.
The Chilean capital offers a huge supply of accommodation. The budget category is well represented, but midrange hotels and more luxurious accommodations are also widely available. Santiago is however a city that draws many business travelers and in an increasing degree tourists. We therefore recommend booking your accommodation in Santiago well in advance.
For more information about Santiago we recommend Google and the following sources:
Tourist Information Santiago (English)