Tourism is of growing importance to Chile’s economy. The country offers a variety of landscapes, from the desolate beauty and salt lakes of the Atacama Desert to the picturesque peaks and Lake District of the Andes Mountains. Among the many national parks is Torres del Paine in the south, a place to see Andean condors, rugged mountain peaks, glaciers, waterfalls, and mountain lakes. Chile also offers a variety of activities. Beaches line the country’s lengthy coastline. Hiking and skiing draw visitors to the mountains near Chile’s cities. Wine-sampling tours are available in the vineyards of the Central Valley.
Boat tours from Tierra del Fuego travel past elephant seals and penguin colonies.
Little of Chile’s colonial heritage remains in Santiago, the capital, largely as a result of earthquake damage. But the historic quarter of Valparaíso, which features some of the finest Latin American architecture of the 19th century, is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The name Valparaiso means “valley of paradise,” and the city’s situation on hills that slope down to the harbor bears out the name. Nearby is the beach resort of Viña del Mar.
Chile has good internal transportation. A network of roads, of which 20 percent are paved, covers 79,604 km (49,464 mi).
Railroad lines total 6,008 km (3,733 mi) in length and extend from Iquique in the north to Puerto Montt in the south. The main north-south system is connected by spur lines to important coastal towns and by trans-Andean lines to points in Argentina and Bolivia. The railway also links Chile with Peru.
Because of the difficult terrain, many coastal cities rely on water transportation. Fine harbors are few, however. The principal ports are Valparaíso, Talcahuano and Tomé (both located on Concepción Bay), Antofagasta, San Antonio, and Punta Arenas. The most important international airports in the country are located near Santiago and Arica; others are at Antofagasta, Puerto Montt, and Punta Arenas. Airlines also facilitate travel between major cities within Chile. "Chile" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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