|Preface Last Updated: 12/8/2003
Few countries, in Latin America or elsewhere, can match the
geographic diversity of Chile. With an average width of only 110
miles, Chile stretches 2,700 miles along the southwest coast of
South America, encompassing barren desert, beaches, volcanoes,
towering snowcapped Andean peaks, picturesque vineyards, ancient
forests, glaciers, and a wind-swept archipelago. Chile claims a
wedge-shaped slice of Antarctica and controls Easter Island, 2,300
miles off the Chilean coast in the middle of the South Pacific.
Chile’s geographic diversity does not, however, translate into
significant cultural diversity. Despite intensive immigration and
the existence of historically significant indigenous cultures,
Chileans, culturally speaking, are a remarkably homogenous group,
the result of geographic isolation and the abiding influences of
Chile’s Spanish colonial and Catholic heritage. Most Chileans,
whatever their ethnic background or social status, are serious,
hardworking, reserved, self-deprecating, conservative, and
In spite of its geographic isolation, Chile has emerged as a
major economic and political force in Latin America. The capital,
Santiago, is a modern, bustling city, with glistening high-rises, a
first-class subway system, well-maintained theaters and museums, a
relatively well-organized public works system, and a governmental
structure that is internationally recognized for its low level of
Chile is a country with much to offer the expatriate. Whether one
prefers the splendors of the numerous national parks and reserves,
or prefers wine tours and season tickets to the splendid Teatro
Municipal, there is something for everyone.
The Host Country
Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 12/8/2003 1:43 PM
Chile is a narrow ribbon of land stretching almost 2,700 miles
along the southwest coast of South America. Although it is one of
the world’s longest countries, its average width is only 110 miles.
It is only 250 miles at its widest point. Larger than any European
country except Russia, Chile covers an area of 292,257 square miles,
about the size of California, Oregon, and half of Washington State
combined. If you stretched Chile east to west across the United
States, it would reach from Maine to California.
Geographically, Chile offers diversity unmatched by most other
countries. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean; to the
east it is separated from Bolivia and Argentina by the towering
Andes range (La Cordillera de los Andes), with peaks in Chile that
rise to 22,600 feet. Peru shares a short border to the north. Within
its borders, Chile has four distinct geographic zones: the dry
northern desert, the fertile Central Valley, the forests and lakes
of south-central Chile, and the archipelagos, fiords and channels of
the far south.
The great northern desert or “Norte Grande,” which covers
one-fourth of the country, is one of the earth’s driest, most barren
areas. Some parts have never recorded rainfall. Nonetheless, this
desolate, inhospitable area produces the rich mineral deposits of
copper and nitrates that are vital to Chile’s economy.
The Central Valley, where most Chileans live, begins with the
Aconcagua River Basin north of Santiago and ends with the Bio-Bio
River at Concepcion. The nation’s major industrial and agricultural
production is located in this region. South of the Bio-Bio the
landscape becomes increasingly forested. Especially striking is the
area from southeast of Temuco south to Puerto Montt. Here the
mountains are dotted with picturesque lakes, hot springs, and
snow-capped volcanoes. This area, known as the Chilean Lake District
(Región de los Lagos), is a favorite destination for Chilean and
South of Puerto Montt is an archipelago characterized by high
rainfall, with forested fiords, glaciers and sea channels. Still
farther south are the windy steppes and sheep country of Patagonia
and Tierra del Fuego. Chile also claims a wedge-shaped piece of
Several Pacific islands are Chilean territory as well. The Juan
Fernandez Islands are 360 miles southwest of Valparaiso. The
marooned sailor, Alexander Selkirk, lived on one of these islands
for 5 years; his adventures inspired Daniel Defoe’s novel, Robinson
Crusoe. About 2,300 miles west of Chile is Easter Island, locally
referred to as “Rapa-Nui,” which is inhabited by ethnic Polynesians
whose ancestors carved the gigantic stone monuments (Moai) for which
the island is famous.
Chile’s climate is as varied as its geography. Despite lying in
the tropics, northern Chile is characterized by warm summers and
mild winters, due to the moderating influence of the cool Humboldt
Current. In the central region, where Santiago is located, summers
(December to March) are dry, with warm days reaching into the high
80s or low 90s, but cooler nights. Winter (June to September) is
generally cold, foggy and rainy (rainfall averages 14 inches a
year); temperatures climb into the 50s and 60s during the day and
usually drop to the 40s at night, with occasional frost. The
southern Lake District has cooler average temperatures and is wetter
than the central region, with annual rainfall reaching 100 inches.
In the far south, the climate is colder still, with gale force winds
much of the year. Rainfall in this region also averages 100 inches
annually, except in the Patagonian steppes, where it drops to an
average of 20 inches a year.
Population Last Updated: 12/8/2003 1:45 PM
Chile’s population, about 15 million (2001), is mainly urban
(83%), with almost 40% living in Santiago and its environs. As in
other developing countries, the population is youthful; about 30%
are under 15 years of age. Chile is, however, one of the more
sparsely populated Latin American countries, with about 50
inhabitants per square mile. Its annual population growth rate is
1.5%. Chile has a large, well-educated middle class which makes
important contributions to business and government; nonetheless, the
country continues to have a significant number of unemployed and
underemployed living in makeshift communities (poblaciones)
scattered in suburban areas of the larger cities. The rural
population, including the indigenous peoples, has a standard of
living generally well below that of the urban population.
The dominant ethnic group in Chile is of Spanish or
Spanish/Amerindian origin. Other significant ethnic groups came from
Germany, England, Italy, Yugoslavia, and the Middle East. The
population includes a small number of native people (6%–7%), a small
Asian population, but almost no one of African descent. The
indigenous peoples live mainly south of the Bio-Bio River and in the
Andean north. The most important group, the Araucanians (or,
locally, the Mapuche), has never been fully assimilated into Chilean
During the colonial period, most immigrants were Spanish. A small
but influential number of Irish and English immigrants also came to
Chile and played important roles in Chilean history. Bernardo
O’Higgins, Chile’s national hero, was of Irish descent. After Chile
won independence in 1810, many Irish, Scottish, and English
immigrated to the new republic. In 1845, an official Chilean
colonizing agency was set up in Europe to stimulate immigration,
particularly from Germany. A small group of German colonists, who
arrived in 1850, was the first of a large-scale immigration from
Germany that continued for 90 years. Most Germans settled in the
Valdivia-Llanquihue-Chiloe area in the south, where towns still have
a decidedly Bavarian ambience. Spanish immigrants continued to
arrive in large numbers throughout the 19th century and were joined
by Italians, French, Swiss, British, and Yugoslavs, among others.
The 20th century brought an influx of Middle Easterners (mainly
Palestinians and Lebanese) as well as more Europeans. Several
thousand displaced persons resettled in Chile after World War II.
Despite Chile’s ethnic diversity, its culture is remarkably
homogenous. This homogeneity is generally attributed to the
country’s geographic isolation from other countries—by the Pacific
to the west, the Andes to the east, the desert to the north—and the
abiding influences of Chile’s Spanish colonial and Catholic
heritage. Most Chileans, regardless of ethnic background or
socio-economic status, can be characterized as serious, hardworking,
reserved, self-deprecating, conservative, and family-oriented. The
Roman Catholic religion continues to be influential at all levels of
society. However, the Constitution guarantees religious freedom and
separation of church and state. Some 10% of the population is
Protestant, and there are small Jewish and Islamic communities as
Most Chilean holidays commemorate events important in the
country’s history or celebrate traditional feast or holy days of the
Catholic Church. The Fiestas Patrias, a two-day celebration in mid-
September commemorating Chilean independence, is the main patriotic
holiday. During this time, there are fairs (fondas), at which one
will be introduced to the “cueca,” the national dance of Chile, and
rodeos complete with Chilean cowboys (huasos). The biggest religious
festivals occur around Christmas and Easter. Cuasimodo is celebrated
the week after Easter Sunday throughout central Chile. In this
festival, huasos in traditional dress accompany the local priest as
he administers communion to the local population.
Public Institutions Last Updated: 12/8/2003 1:46 PM
Chile is a unitary republic with a highly centralized
administrative structure and a strong executive branch. The
President serves a 6-year term and cannot seek immediate reelection.
He appoints cabinet ministers and rectors of state universities, as
well as 13 regional administrators (“intendentes”), 51 provincial
governors, and numerous other officials. In January 2000, Ricardo
Lagos, the candidate for a coalition of center and moderate leftist
political parties, was elected President with 51% of the vote. He
assumed office in March 2000.
The bicameral Congress consists of a Senate and a Chamber of
Deputies. The Senate has 38 elected seats—2 from each of 19
senatorial districts (circumscripciones) and 9 designated seats,
which are variously filled by appointees of the Supreme Court, the
National Security Council, and the President. In addition,
ex-Presidents who have served 6 consecutive years also have the
option of serving in the Senate for life. Senators are elected or
appointed to 8-year terms. Half of the elected seats come up for
reelection every 4 years. The 120 members of the Chamber of Deputies
are all elected, two from each of 60 electoral districts, and serve
4-year terms. Permanent commissions, roughly equivalent to
committees in the U.S. Congress, work out the details of proposed
legislation. Since reopening with the return to democracy in 1990,
the Congress has been located in the port city of Valparaiso, 115
kilometers (about 1½ hours by car) northwest of Santiago. Chile
operates under a Constitution approved during the military
government of General Augusto Pinochet (1973–90). That Constitution
provides for a democratic system, including an independent
judiciary, while containing some limits on popular sovereignty. It
also grants considerable institutional autonomy to the armed
services and national police.
Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 12/8/2003 1:48 PM
Santiago has traditionally been one of Latin America’s most
active centers for the fine and performing arts. Cultural events are
generally held from March to November. The Philharmonic Orchestra of
Santiago and the Chilean National Symphony have subscription series,
as do the Municipal Ballet and Opera. The National Ballet of the
University of Chile also performs during the cultural season. The
hub of ballet and opera activity is Santiago’s Teatro Municipal,
which is a magnet for top Chilean and foreign artists. The Beethoven
Society of Santiago, a leading private cultural institution, offers
a yearly subscription series featuring internationally recognized
musicians during its May-to-September season.
Frequent concerts and recitals by local artists are held
throughout the year. In January, there is an international jazz
festival in Santiago, and in February there are two music festivals
that attract international artists as well as local talent. One,
held in Vi¤a del Mar, features popular and rock-and-roll music; the
other, held in Frutillar on Lake Llanquihue, is devoted to classical
music and provides a forum for young Chilean musicians. In addition,
Santiago has a number of cultural FM radio stations.
Several professional theater companies in Santiago present
exceptionally high-quality productions by both Chilean and foreign
playwrights. “Santiago Stage,” the Anglo-American community’s
amateur theater group, produces plays in English each year. Many
American and British films reach Santiago’s cinemas only a few weeks
after their U.S. release, and European and Latin American films are
also frequently shown. Most movies shown in theaters are presented
in the original language with Spanish subtitles, with the exception
of children’s films. The majority of non-Spanish TV films and other
programs are dubbed in Spanish. Local “art” movie houses present
reruns of notable film classics. Santiago has several good museums
featuring pre-Columbian, folk, colonial, religious, and contemporary
art, as well as science and Chilean history. Works by modern
artists, sculptors, and photographers are exhibited and sold in the
many private galleries. The National Library of Chile is one of the
largest in Latin America. In addition, the Instituto
Chileno-Norteamericano has one of Santiago’s most modern libraries.
Chile’s folklore is rich. Examples of traditional music and dance
are offered nearly every night of the year in several Santiago
nightclubs and at festivals and special occasions outside the
capital. Other nightspots feature urban folk music, jazz, and tango.
Santiago has several discotheques.
Chilean writers have won international fame for their
achievements. Among the country’s 20th-century poets are Nobel
Laureates Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda, and such well-known
writers as Vicente Huidobro and Nicanor Parra. José Donoso, Maria
Luisa Bombal, Isabel Allende, Manuel Rojas, and Jorge Edwards head
the list of leading novelists. The country has also produced a
number of fine short-story writers, essayists, historians, and
The Chilean Government, universities, and other public and
private entities actively encourage scientific activity. Most
universities have departments of science and technology and several
of the country’s finest centers of higher learning specialize in
these fields. The Chilean Scientific Society publishes a scholarly
journal. Although Chile, unlike Peru to the north, was never the
seat of a great indigenous culture, archeological research centered
in the northern desert has uncovered considerable evidence of
pre-Columbian settlements showing southward extension of Incan and
Its location and clear desert air have made northern Chile the
center of astronomical research in the Southern Hemisphere. Three of
the world’s largest observatories are located near La Serena, a
day’s drive north of Santiago; one is run by a consortium of U.S.
Chile has been a leader in public education in Latin America
since the mid-19th century. Of the country’s universities, the
oldest and most prestigious are the University of Chile, founded in
1842, and Catholic University, founded in 1888. The University of
Santiago, dedicated mainly to science and technology, is also
important. Valparaiso has three good-sized universities and
Concepción has two. Most other provincial capitals have universities
that serve their respective regions. Many private universities have
been created over the past 20 years, the most prestigious being
Diego Portales University, Gabriela Mistral, Universidad Central,
and Andres Bello.
Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 12/8/2003 1:49 PM
Chile’s current government adheres to largely free-market
economic policies, including low and uniform tariffs (except on
automobiles and a few other items regarded as luxury consumption)
and an openness to foreign investment. As a result of these
policies, Chile enjoyed more than a decade of significant real
economic growth, relatively low inflation, balance-of-payments
equilibrium and nearly full employment. However, in 1999, Chile was
hit by a recession prompted by the Asian financial crisis. Economic
growth resumed in 2000 and is expected to continue.
To lessen the country’s dependence on mining, especially copper
mining, the Government has promoted development in other areas in
which Chile has a comparative advantage such as forestry,
fruit-growing, and fishing. As a result, copper now accounts for
less than 50% of Chile’s export earnings compared to over 80% in the
early 1970s. Chile imposes no quotas or embargoes on imports, and
foreign goods are abundant, but somewhat higher-priced than in the
U.S. The U.S. remains Chile’s main trading partner with some 23% of
the import market. Other important trading partners are Japan,
Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, and Germany. Chile is ranked 34th
among U.S. trading partners.
Automobiles Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:01 PM
The backbone of Chile’s generally adequate road system is Route 5
(Ruta 5), part of which forms the Pan American Highway (Ruta
Panamericana). Route 5 runs north-south from Arica on the border
with Peru to Quellón in the far south. From just north of Santiago
to Los Angeles (about 325 miles south) the highway is four-lane, but
road construction and general congestion through some areas can slow
travel time considerably. The Government plans to complete the
four-lane highway to Puerto Mont by 2002. Well-maintained roads link
Santiago with Valparaiso and other cities on the central coast and
connect central Chile with the Argentine highway system via Mendoza,
Argentina.The road to the Argentine border is, however, frequently
closed in winter by snow. Many of the best roads are now run by
private companies that charge tolls. In addition to the main road
system, there is an extensive secondary system of unpaved or gravel
roads, some of which require four-wheel-drive vehicles to negotiate.
Unleaded gasoline is readily available, although the price of
gasoline is higher than in the States, and Embassy personnel must
pay the gasoline tax.
In Santiago, most U.S. Embassy employees, especially those living
in the suburbs, find a car necessary for errands, shopping, and
social activities. Most familiar American and foreign automobile
brands are sold and can be repaired here. Labor costs for repairs
are generally less than in the U.S., but spare parts are more
expensive and not always easily obtained. Because some Chilean roads
are potholed or unpaved, heavy-duty springs, shock absorbers, and
undercoating are recommended. Although winter temperatures in
Santiago occasionally drop to near freezing, antifreeze is not
needed unless traveling to ski areas in winter. Tire chains are
mandatory for winter travel to the local mountains. They can be
purchased or rented locally, but employees planning to ski regularly
should bring chains in their freight.
The Government of Chile requires that owners of vehicles imported
or locally purchased duty-free must pay the 18% Value Added Tax (VAT
or, in Spanish, IVA) upon resale in Chile. Therefore, personnel
assigned to Chile should not expect to sell a vehicle upon departure
at close to its original sale price. Many employees choose to
purchase a new car locally. Although these vehicles conform to local
rather than U.S. specifications—which means they cannot be exported
to the U.S. without modifications-they often cost less when
purchased duty—free than the same model would cost in the U.S. For
more information, contact the post’s general services officer (GSO).
The Embassy obtains registration and license plates for personal
vehicles owned by official personnel. (See Taxes, Exchange, and Sale
of Property.) Local third-party liability insurance is required on
all cars and costs about US$400. Many U.S. citizens also purchase
collision insurance, which is available locally as well as through
U.S. companies. Local collision insurance rates are high, typically
$500–$1,200 per year for the average American vehicle.
Embassy diplomatic personnel are able to obtain a Chilean
driver’s license upon presentation of a letter of introduction from
the Embassy and a U.S. license. Administrative and Technical
personnel may be required to take a driving test in Spanish to
obtain a Chilean license, although this requirement has not been
enforced. It is a good idea to arrive in Chile with an international
driver’s permit —obtainable from AAA— as it is not always convenient
to apply for a Chilean driver’s license immediately upon arrival.
You will also need an international driver’s permit to drive in
surrounding countries. The local driving age minimum is 18 years.
Local Transportation Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:02 PM
Santiago offers an extensive public transportation system that is
used by Embassy personnel. The bus system is comprehensive,
inexpensive (about 55 cents per ride), and relatively easy to use.
Unfortunately, buses tend to be rundown, erratically driven, and
crowded during rush hours. The subway system (Metro) is, however, a
pleasant surprise to newcomers. It is clean and efficient, and costs
about the same as the bus. The streets teem with taxis that are
easily recognizable by their color: black with a yellow roof.
Service is generally good at reasonable prices. All taxis have
meters except tourist taxis at larger hotels, which charge a flat
rate for specific destinations. In addition there are shared cabs (colectivos)
that follow fixed routes. Black with signs on the roof stating their
routes, colectivos can be flagged down like cabs. Many Embassy
personnel, even those who own cars, prefer to take a taxi or the
Metro to go downtown for cultural or social events, rather than
fight traffic or find scarce parking. This post does not provide
regular home-to-office transportation for official personnel.
Parents with children attending Nido de Aguilas or other private
schools can arrange for round-trip bus transportation through the
Regional Transportation Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:03 PM
Chile has a fairly extensive if antiquated railroad system,
although at this time no passenger service operates north of
Santiago. Sleeping cars and flat-cars for automobiles provide
overnight rail service between Santiago and Temuco, about 9 hours
south. Many people prefer to take the inter-city buses, which are
well-equipped, comfortable, and follow fixed schedules to all major
cities. Some long distance buses feature sleeping berths. Domestic
air service is reliable; LanChile provides the lion’s share of the
service to principal Chilean cities. Various international carriers
provide regular service to and from Chile, including three U.S.
carriers. American and foreign passenger ships and freighters call
Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:03 PM
Telephone communication is very good, due largely to the
privatization of long-distance telephone service and strong
competition among a long list of providers. Since the
telecommunications industry opened up in 1994, international long
distance rates in Chile have dropped precipitously, and although
they have risen a bit, are still inexpensive, even compared with
U.S. service. Local phone cards are available for placing
long-distance calls from any public phone in the U.S. or Chile. U.S.
calling cards can also be used, but rates are slightly higher.
Telephones and Telecommunications
Wireless Service Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:04 PM Cell phones are
inexpensive and have international calling capability.
U.S.-purchased cell phones will not work in Chile.
Internet Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:04 PM
Internet service, including broadband and personal Web site
hosting, is available at competitive prices through a variety of
local providers. Occasionally, Embassy personnel are offered special
rates or plans. While the monthly fee for dial-up internet service
is low (about $8–$10 per month), note that the local phone company
charges an additional per-minute telephone use fee (Servicio Local
Medido or SLM), which, depending on the time of day, can add more
than a dollar per hour to the cost of accessing the Internet. Most
homes also have only one phone line, and obtaining a second line can
be difficult. Some Embassy personnel with dial-up Internet
connections purchase cell phones to make themselves accessible by
phone while on the Internet.
Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:05 PM
International Mail. Adequate international mail service is
available to and from Chile. Although service may sometimes be
faster than APO facilities, it is considerably more expensive.
Address international mail as follows:
Name Name of Agency American Embassy Casilla 27-D Santiago
Instruct family and friends not to send packages to Chile via
international parcel post. Mail sent in this manner is subject to
theft, long delays in Customs, and possible duties and taxes.
Airpouch Facilities. The U.S. Mission in Santiago has military
postal (APO) privileges, which thus excludes the use of diplomatic
pouch facilities for personal mail, except in specific cases such as
those set forth in 5 FAM 343. Pouches generally arrive from and are
dispatched to Washington, D.C. about three times a week. Official
mail is distributed to Mission personnel through the Embassy
mailroom. Use the following address only for official mail that must
go by pouch:
Name (Office) 3460 Santiago Place Washington, D.C. 20521–3460
APO Facilities. The post has a full-service APO. The APO is used
for all personal letters and unrestricted category parcels, which
measure a maximum of 108 inches in length, width, and girth combined
and weigh no more than 70 pounds. Delivery time for both incoming
and outgoing mail ranges from 5 to 14 days but periodically becomes
sporadic. Some APO customers have complained of not receiving
packages. The APO staff, therefore, strongly recommends insuring all
packages. Services available include insurance on outgoing parcels,
certified mail, and return receipts. Services not available are
money orders, registered mail, and COD mail. The APO facility
receives and dispatches mail daily. The APO counter is open Monday
through Friday. APO mail should be addressed:
Name Unit _____ American Embassy-Santiago APO AA 34033-_____(Unit
List of Unit Numbers for APO AA 34033:
Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) 4100 Executive
Offices (Ambassador/ DCM) 4101 Admin Section 4102 Economic-Political
4103 RSO 4104 Consular 4105 CLO 4106 Budget & Fiscal (B&F) 4108
General Services Office (GSO) 4109 Facility Manager 4109 Health Unit
(HU) 4110 Foreign Commercial Service (FCS) 4111 Marine Security
Guards (MSG) 4112 Animal Plant Health Service (APHIS) 4113 Defense
Attaché‚ Office (DAO) 4115 MILGP 4116 Regional Security Office (RSO)
4117 Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) 4118 Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA) 4119 Defense Mapping Agency (NIMA) 4120
Commissary 4121 Nido de Aguilas 4122 Public Affairs Santiago College
(STGO) 4124 Military Retirees 4125 Cope (Apo) 4126 Information
Technical Center (ITC) 4127 NASA 4129 IPC 4130 Legal Attaché 4131
International Preparatory School (TIPS) 4132 Information Systems
Office 4133 Boy Scouts 4134
Radio and TV Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:06 PM
Radio is Chile’s most extensive mass communication medium. Of the
total 800 AM and FM radio stations in Chile, some 50 broadcast from
Santiago. Broadcasting is almost exclusively in Spanish, but a few
English-language programs can occasionally be heard. Several
Santiago stations broadcast a broad range of American music in FM
stereo. English-language news can be heard on shortwave via the
Voice of America (VOA) and the British Broadcasting Company (BBC).
Santiago has six VHF-TV channels, all of which broadcast in
color, using the U.S.-compatible NTSC system. Programming includes
older U.S. TV series and movies, local and imported soap operas, and
a variety of news and local entertainment shows. There are no UHF
stations. All of the neighborhoods where Mission personnel live have
access to one or two cable TV systems that carry the international
versions of standard American cable fare such as CNN, ESPN, TNT,
HBO, MTV, FOX, TNT, etc. There are also stations from Europe and
other Latin American countries, as well as C-SPAN and Worldnet at
certain times. Direct satellite television is also available in
Chile. VHS videotapes of English-language films are available for
rent through numerous outlets around Santiago such as Blockbuster
Video. U.S.-standard video tape recorders and television sets
function in Chile with a 220v–110v step-down transformer. VCRs can
be ordered through the APO, but a TV with a screen size larger than
13–14” frequently exceeds APO size restrictions. Dual voltage or
220v TVs can be purchased locally.
Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated:
12/8/2003 3:07 PM
Because English-language books and magazines are scarce in Chile,
order books and subscribe to your favorite periodicals via the APO.
Books in English can be obtained from a few local bookstores, but
they are expensive. The Instituto Chileno-Norteamericano has 10,000
English language books and 115 U.S. periodicals. The American
Association of Chile (AAC) sponsors book clubs that buy
English-language books for members to share, as well as maintains a
lending library at its club house. The Santiago Lending Library is a
volunteer organization, which has a small, but high-quality
collection of fiction and nonfiction books. Students of Nido de
Aguilas and their parents have access to the school’s modern
library. The Community Liaison Office (CLO) also maintains a small
paperback fiction library.
In addition to an English-language weekly newspaper, the News
Review, some local newsstands sell international editions of Time
and Newsweek, or 2- to 4-day-old U.S. city newspapers. Some Embassy
personnel subscribe to a U.S. newspaper such as USA Today via the
APO, but it will arrive chronically late. A subscription to the
Miami Herald can be arranged for same-day delivery, but the
subscription rate is high. The American Association of Chile
publishes a monthly newsletter for members, The Spotlight, which has
practical information for expatriates living in Chile. The Journal
of the American Chamber of Commerce is geared to the needs and
interests of the business community.
Chilean newspapers are printed in Spanish. El Mercurio, a
conservative, Santiago-based morning newspaper, is Chile’s most
prestigious and influential daily. Several weekly news magazines
representing various political points of view have a nationwide
Health and Medicine
Medical Facilities Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:09 PM
The Embassy’s Health Unit—staffed by a Regional Medical Officer (RMO),
a Registered Nurse (RN), and a secretary—offers a full range of
services to official personnel and their families, including
emergency treatment, immunizations, treatment of minor illnesses,
medical information and counseling, referral assistance, and
monitoring of medical problems. The Health Unit staff write periodic
articles and medical alerts for the weekly Embassy newsletter,
underscoring current medical problems of interest, with a focus on
prevention. Although traveling frequently for medical consultations
to other regional posts, the RMO is available to see employees and
family members when in Santiago. Individuals with a chronic medical
condition will be assisted in obtaining an appropriate doctor and
consult with the RMO as a secondary caregiver. The Regional
Psychiatrist (RMO/P) is stationed in Lima, Peru, and makes periodic
visits to Santiago. He is also available for consultation via
telephone from Lima.
It is recommended that all standard pediatric and adult
immunizations be up-to-date prior to arrival in Santiago. In
addition, Hepatitis A and Typhoid immunizations are routinely
recommended. On arrival, employees and their eligible family members
should bring their shot records to the Health Unit for the nurse to
review and update. The Health Unit provides a full range of
immunization with the exception of the Yellow Fever vaccine. While
in the U.S., employees and their family members should obtain the
vaccine, which can be given only at approved vaccination centers
such as the Department of State and National Foreign Affairs
Training Center. Though Yellow Fever is not found in Chile, the
immunization is recommended for travel to some surrounding South
American countries. Employees and family members who have already
arrived in Chile, but plan to travel to a country where Yellow Fever
is present, can obtain information on the location of the Chilean
immunization clinic where the vaccine can be administered.
Most diseases or disorders can be successfully treated in
Santiago. When this is not possible, medical travel may be
authorized to Miami or another U.S. medical facility. Many local
physicians speak English and have obtained medical training in the
U.S. or Europe. Well-trained, English-speaking dentists and
orthodontists are also available. Several hospitals in Santiago
provide full medical services, including 24-hour emergency services
with ambulance transportation. The quality of care in these
institutions approaches care in the U.S. The Health Unit
periodically evaluates hospitals that Embassy personnel use, and
retains on file the curricula vitae of preferred physicians and
dentists. The cost of medical and dental care by Chilean
practitioners is comparable to costs in the U.S.
People recovering from alcohol or drug addiction should note that
there is a lack of English-speaking recovery groups, e.g.,
Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. However,
English-speaking psychiatrists and psychologists are available in
Santiago. Please contact the Health Unit for treatment options.
Many pharmacies are open 24 hours a day. A list of
around-the-clock pharmacies is published daily in the newspapers.
The cost of some medications is higher than in the U.S. and some
state-side medications are not available at all. The Health Unit
urges all personnel to check with the RMO or nurse before taking
unfamiliar local medications, even those prescribed by a local
physician. Some prescription drugs in Chile are not approved by the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration and may be unfamiliar to the
Embassy’s medical staff. Employees should bring an adequate initial
supply of required prescription drugs. The RMO can renew a
prescription, and drugs can be ordered by E-mail or fax. It is also
wise to bring a supply of favorite nonprescription drugs. Additional
supplies can be ordered via the Internet, if they are not available
in Chile. Fluoride tablets are provided to employees with children
since some water sources are not fluorinated. Eyeglasses and contact
lenses can be readily obtained in Chile but are more costly than in
Santiago has an enticing outdoor climate, but the air is dry and
the sun is strong. To protect skin, bring moisturizing creams, bath
oils and sunscreen. These can also be purchased locally (usually at
higher cost). Limit outdoor exposure when the sun is strongest
(between 11 a.m.–3 p.m.), and always use sunscreen on any exposed
skin, whether skiing in the local mountains or swimming in a
backyard swimming pool.
Health and Medicine
Community Health Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:10 PM
Community health standards are generally good in Santiago. The
sewage and trash collection systems are efficient. Nevertheless,
inadequate supervision of sewers during construction and road
repair, as well as periodic earthquake damage can cause occasional
contamination of drinking water in some areas. Otherwise, the city
water supply is purified and generally considered safe to drink.
Just the same, the water is hard, and sediment is often present,
prompting many people to filter their drinking water, or buy bottled
water. Outside larger cities, water may be contaminated and bottled
water is recommended.
Food and beverages are generally safe. However, care is advised
in choosing restaurants and in preparing raw fruits and vegetables.
(See Preventive Measures.) Milk is sold in paper or plastic
containers, often reconstituted, and is pasteurized and safe.
“Long-life” sterilized milk, which does not require refrigeration
prior to opening, is readily available. Fresh unpasteurized milk
should be avoided unless boiled. Good-quality powdered and liquid
processed milk are sold locally.
Santiago has a serious problem with air pollution. Although a
blanket of smog hangs most of the year over the congested downtown
area, pollution is particularly heavy in winter when the fumes from
heating fuels are added to the dust and vehicle exhaust. Even
outlying suburbs generally have air pollution problems, and there
are days when the smog reaches high up the slopes of the Andes. As a
result, respiratory, eye, ear, nose, and throat problems are common
for employees and their family members. Minor eye irritations are
endemic on bad days, and many nonsmokers have “smoker’s hack”
throughout the winter.
Health and Medicine
Preventive Measures Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:11 PM
Santiago is a relatively well-organized, modern city and new
arrivals are sometimes surprised that mild gastrointestinal
disorders occur regardless of precautions taken. Occasional episodes
of food-borne illness can result from eating contaminated,
undercooked or raw food, either at home or in restaurants. More
serious infections such as amebic dysentery and typhoid fever are
Because not all farm produce is subject to uniformly high
standards of control over processing and pesticide use, a good
practice is to wash all produce in detergent and rinse it in clean
water prior to consumption. Further precautions, such as soaking
produce in antiseptics (available in grocery stores), is a matter of
The best defenses against food-borne illness include
understanding and establishing good food preparation practices at
home (and making sure your housekeeper does the same), avoiding
produce and other food products from street vendors, and choosing
restaurants that appear clean and well-run or have been recommended
by others. Above all, use common sense. If it looks or smells bad,
it probably is.
The best defense against air pollution is to limit outdoor
exercise activity when pollution climbs above acceptable levels; the
pollution index is regularly publicized by the Government. Local
schools choose to keep children indoors when the index is high.
Individuals with a history of respiratory problems should also
consider using an air purifier in the bedroom; Santiago has
sufficient air pollution to warrant its use.
The Health Unit publishes an Information Booklet that provides
medical information and outlines preventative health measures
specific to Chile. Before coming to post, personnel should request a
copy via E-mail and review it thoroughly.
Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 12/8/2003
Within the U.S. Mission, every effort is made to assist spouses
in finding employment, if they so desire. At present the roster of
family member positions includes several office manager positions, a
commissary manager, a nurse, an Information Resource Center research
assistant, an APO supervisor and clerk, two consular clerks, two
consular associate positions, a Community Liaison Office (CLO)
Coordinator, classified pouch escort and Information Management
Associate. In addition, the Embassy frequently hires spouses on
temporary appointments to fill in for assigned personnel on leave.
In most cases, knowledge of Spanish and computers is an asset.
For spouses who prefer to seek employment outside the Embassy,
there is a de facto work agreement with the Chilean Government, and
several spouses have found positions with companies or non-profit
organizations in Santiago. Once a spouse secures a position locally,
the Foreign Ministry must approve the arrangement, a process which
can take some time. Family members who do find local employment must
pay Chilean income taxes, and are required to waive their diplomatic
immunity on matters related to their employment. Again, knowledge of
Spanish is helpful.
Local private schools occasionally hire qualified teachers.
Generally, applicants are required to have a teaching degree from an
accredited university, but there are exceptions. Many language
institutes in the city hire native English speakers, even without a
degree or experience in teaching English. All teaching positions—and
other local positions, for that matter—are paid on a local wage
scale, which is generally lower than for comparable positions in the
When funds are available, the CLO coordinates summer and winter
employment programs for Mission high school and college students who
wish to work at the Embassy during school breaks. Every effort is
made to find work for all interested students.
The Community Liaison Office maintains a list of eligible family
members seeking work and makes sure that they are informed of
Embassy vacancies as they arise. Family members interested in
working are encouraged to contact the CLO office as soon as possible
before arrival at post to make their background and interests known.
American Embassy - Santiago
Post City Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:12 PM
Founded in 1541 by Pedro de Valdivia, Santiago is a modern city
of 5.5 million inhabitants. It is Chile’s undisputed cultural,
political, financial, and commercial center. The country’s standard
of living, which ranks high in Latin America, is highest in
Santiago, where most of the country’s wealth and 40% of its
population are concentrated.
The city’s architectural influences are decidedly European;
downtown one finds Spanish, French and Italian architectural styles,
state-of-the-art high rises, expansive pedestrian shopping areas, an
efficient subway system, wide avenues, outdoor markets, and many
well-tended medians, plazas and parks. Modern shopping malls and
supermarkets around Santiago compare favorably with those found in
any major U.S. city. Santiago lacks the sprawling, desperately poor
slums that are found in some major Latin American cities.
Nonetheless, there are large swaths of the city that remain
The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:14 PM
In Santiago, U.S. Government employees and their family members
number about 235 and represent eight departments or agencies of the
U.S. Government: State, Foreign Commercial Service (FCS), Foreign
Agriculture Service (FAS), Animal and Plant Health Inspection
Service (APHIS), Defense Attaché Office (DAO), Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA), U.S. Military Group (MILGP), and the
Department of Justice (LEGATT). All agencies maintain their offices
in Santiago, except the MILGP, which also has an office in
Valparaiso. Mission offices are situated in the Embassy Chancery at
Avenida Andres Bello 2800. The building is located in the Las Condes
residential area near the Mapocho River. The Embassy telephone
number is (56) (2) 232–2600. Official hours for all agencies in the
Chancery are currently 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through
As the President’s personal representative, the Ambassador is the
Chief of Mission and responsible for the direction of all U.S.
Government agencies in Chile. The Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM)
assists the Ambassador and takes charge during the Ambassador’s
absence. The Department of State also includes the
Economic/Political, Consular, Public Affairs and Administrative
The Public Affairs Section is responsible for the Embassy’s
information and cultural programs. Through educational and
professional exchanges, digital video conferencing, speaker
programs, support for educational advising, English teaching and
American Studies programs, publications and the services of its
Information Resource Center (IRC), the Public Affairs Section
supports the Embassy in articulating U.S. Government policies and
fosters greater understanding of U.S. society and culture. The PA
section also manages the Embassy’s website, in both English and
The Administrative Section provides comprehensive support
services to all agencies within the Mission. The Budget and Fiscal
Office offers a full range of fiscal services for all personnel.
Payroll and allowance payments for State, FAS, DEA, MILGP, and FCS
personnel are made by the Charleston Financial Service Center.
Employees allot their salaries to U.S. banks; the State Department
forwards these allotments each payday.
The Human Resource Section is responsible for accreditation,
assignment and transfer procedures, leave, health, language
training, and the awards program. This office is also in charge of
recruitment, hiring, compensation, evaluation and other employment
policies for foreign nationals and locally hired American personnel
of the Mission.
The General Services Office (GSO) oversees employee travel,
shipment of personal goods (including personally owned vehicles),
housing, maintenance, printing, procurement, contracting, property
and supply, and transportation (including control of a motorpool of
some 20 official Embassy vehicles).
The Community Liaison Office (CLO) assists post management in
maintaining high morale at post. To this end, CLO’s duties include
coordinating the sponsor and welcome program for newcomers, as well
as providing information on family member job opportunities,
schools, shopping, domestic help, community activities, and tourism.
CLO periodically organizes events, seminars, and trips for the
Embassy community. There is an Internet kiosk in the CLO office,
which is available to all staff. Persons assigned to Santiago are
urged to write to the CLO with questions about the post before their
The Regional Security Officer (RSO) is the Ambassador’s security
liaison and manager whose chief duties include the physical security
of all U.S. Government operations and facilities in Chile,
protective security for the Ambassador and visiting VIPs, oversight
and operational supervision of the Marine Security Guards and the
Local Guard Program, counter terrorism planning, new arrival
briefings, and employee debriefings, investigations, security
surveys, and liaison with appropriate government and local police
Employee services within the chancery include a cafeteria, that
serves breakfast, hot lunches, sandwiches, and snacks, and a
commissary that offers snack food, cold drinks, microwavable meals,
a dry-cleaning service, a gift shop, and rental of VHS tape players,
TVs, and tables and chairs. There are also in-house bill paying,
banking, and ATM services (see Exchange Facilities).
Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:14 PM
The Embassy has a few transient apartments to which incoming
employees are assigned when permanent quarters are not ready on
arrival. All apartments are furnished, and equipped with linens,
dishware, glassware and other basic housekeeping items. Daily
domestic service can be arranged. Reservations for transient
quarters may be made as soon as exact arrival dates are known.
Incoming employees with family members have priority. If a transient
apartment is not available, new arrivals will be lodged in one of
several good hotels, some of which have cooking facilities.
Permanent Housing Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:15 PM
The U.S. Government owns and furnishes the Ambassador’s residence
and the homes of the DCM and the defense attaché. It leases
residences for other American personnel of all agencies. All
decisions on housing assignments and new leases are made by the
Embassy’s Interagency Housing Board. Where practical and
appropriate, an arriving employee will move directly into assigned
quarters. For government-owned or -leased quarters, the Embassy pays
charges for electricity, gas, and water, but not for telephone, TV
cable or Internet. The tenant is responsible for repairing any
damage to the house or its equipment that occurs during his or her
Furnishings Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:16 PM
The post provides a complete set of basic furniture and large
appliances (stove, refrigerator, freezer, washer and dryer) to all
State employees. Other employees should contact their respective
agencies. Houses are selected based on Housing Space Standards, and
thus are unlikely to have adequate storage for a full shipment of
18,000 lbs., even where such is authorized. Standard-issue beds are
queen size for the master bedroom and a twin bed with headboard for
every other occupied bedroom. Employees are expected to provide
blankets, bed linens, bed spreads, shower curtains and rings, and
all kitchenware, as well as cots and bed linens for household help
(all available locally).
Employees should also plan to bring or locally purchase computer
tables and bookshelves. Although the post provides a limited number
of transformers for small- and medium-sized appliances, bring
additional heavy duty ones to meet any special needs. If you are
assigned to a house rather than an apartment, you may wish to bring
a lawnmower, gardening tools, hoses and related attachments.
Although gardening services are readily available, prices typically
run about $30–$35 per week.
Most single family houses and many apartments have swimming
pools. Pool cleaning services are readily available (for about
$40–50 per month), as are cleaning equipment and chemicals for the
Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:16 PM
Electrical current in Chile is 220v, 50-hertz, single-phase,
3-wire, AC. Electrical appliances are manufactured locally, as well
as imported. A general statement about quality and prices is
difficult to make, as both vary; however, with comparative shopping,
good quality items can be found at reasonable prices. Most 110v
appliances will operate with step-down transformers; employees who
plan to buy new appliances, however, should purchase 220v/50-hertz
or dual voltage models. Modern stereo and video equipment will
operate on 50 hertz without conversion. Older record players, tape
recorders, and other 60-hertz items can be converted to 50 hertz.
Include conversion kits in your freight. U.S.-purchased electric
alarm clocks running on 60 hertz cannot be converted to 50 hertz and
will not keep proper time on a transformer. U.S. microwave ovens and
TVs can be used with transformers. Air-conditioners are not
necessary, but electric fans may be desirable and can be purchased
Food Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:17 PM
Typical Chilean cuisine is simple, hearty, and rather bland.
Beef, chicken, and seafood are the most popular main dishes. “Cazuela,”
a stew of chicken, beef, pork, or fish, and the “empanada” (a pastry
turnover filled with meat, fish, spiced onions, cheese, or even
edible seaweed and served hot) are specialties. Wine accompanies
most meals. Other typical Chilean drinks include “borgoña,” red wine
mixed with sparkling water and fruit; “cola de mono,” a Christmas
drink similar to eggnog; “chicha,” grape or apple cider; and “pisco
sour,” a mixture of indigenous grape brandy (pisco), sugar syrup,
and lemon juice.
Americans are usually delighted with Santiago’s modern
supermarkets, which offer most of the variety of major U.S. grocery
chains. The colorful array of high-quality fresh fruits and
vegetables is one of the many attractions of Chile. Winter produce
is more limited but selection is still good.
Fish and other seafood from the vast Chilean coastline include
many interesting, little-known varieties that Americans come to
enjoy. Good quality fresh milk (full and low fat), as well as
long-life milk (full, low fat, and nonfat)) are sold in Santiago.
Condensed, evaporated, and powdered milk are also sold. Other dairy
products include local and imported cheeses, yogurt, margarine,
butter, sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, and ice cream.
Local and imported brands of basic staples (flour, rice, etc),
breakfast cereal, cake mixes, snack foods, canned and frozen fruits
and vegetables, baby formula and strained foods are all readily
available. Chile is famous for its fine selection of good and
generally inexpensive wines. Beer and soft drinks (including diet
varieties) are of good quality. In general, it is safe to say that
most domestically produced food items are currently less expensive
than comparable items in U.S. supermarkets.
The Embassy commissary, located in the basement of the Chancery,
carries a limited stock of locally purchased snack foods and drinks.
The American Employees Recreation Association (AERA) operates the
store. Limited space, high transportation costs, and local
competition necessarily inhibit the Association’s ability to stock a
large selection of groceries in the commissary. Those who prefer
items or brands not stocked in local supermarkets can special order
them via the Internet. Families with infants requiring special items
should ship these items in sufficient quantity in their freight.
Clothing Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:19 PM
Located in the temperate zone, Santiago has four discernible
seasons. Winter (from June to September), when most new arrivals
first arrive in Santiago, tends to be cold and foggy, with
temperatures in the 50s and 60s during the day, the 40s at night.
During this period rainfall is more frequent and many homes, being
poorly insulated, become damp and chilly. Spring and autumn are
sunny and mild with some rain. Santiago’s summers (December through
March) are warm, sunny and dry; temperatures can reach in the 90s,
though generally cool off at night.
Given the weather, a good selection of warm and cold weather
clothing is a must. Chileans dress fashionably, though
conservatively, and malls and most boutiques display a wide variety
of tasteful clothing and shoes. Locally produced clothing tends to
be of good quality; leather goods and wool and cotton sweaters are
particularly good buys. Imported clothing—including many well-known
U.S. and European brands—is available at generally higher prices,
though seasonal sales can produce good finds.
Some familiar brands have outlets here with prices that run
generally lower than in the U.S. Note that large and extra long
men’s sizes, and narrow and wide shoe widths, are difficult to find.
The quality of workmanship among Santiago’s seamstresses and tailors
varies, but most personnel have been pleased with their work, which
costs less than in the U.S. Good quality men’s suits can be
fashioned from locally available woolen, cotton, and synthetic
fabric; a wider variety of material is available for women’s wear.
Dry-cleaning service is good.
Except for the Ambassador, DCM, and their spouses, formal attire
is rarely required. Employees and family members who already own
formal attire should bring it, however, since it is the preferred
dress at the Embassy’s annual Marine Ball and several other gala
events held during the year.
Men Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:19 PM
Most men wear a business suit or coordinating sports coat and
slacks to the office. Senior officers are generally expected to wear
dark suits. A dark suit is also appropriate for almost all evening
occasions. For year-round wear, mediumweight wool blend suits are
most practical, but some men prefer a heavier fabric for winter and
wash-and-wear suits for summer. A raincoat is necessary, preferably
washable with a zip-out lining. A topcoat is also useful; hats are a
matter of personal preference.
Chile’s four seasons require a variety of casual wear. Flannel or
wool shirts are comfortable for winter. Attractive wool, cotton and
synthetic knit shirts and sweaters are available; usually for less
than you would pay in the U.S. A general array of summerwear is
available, but sizes, styles and colors may be limited, cuts may not
appeal to everybody, and many locally-produced clothing requires
ironing or special laundering.
Women Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:20 PM
Wool or wool-blend suits, knit or woven dresses or skirts,
tailored pants and sweaters are popular for office wear or daytime
social functions in the winter season; among Chilean women, dark
colors tend to predominate. The widely varying temperatures during a
24-hour period often make the “layered look” very practical. A
raincoat and winter coat are very useful. In summer (as well as on
mild days in spring and autumn) women wear cotton, linen, and
synthetic fabrics. Cool evenings all year usually require a light
For evening wear, bring cocktail dresses, tailored dresses or
pantsuits. Stoles and blazers, as well as sweaters or sweatercoats
are useful. Hats are seldom worn, and gloves are only necessary in
winter. Good-quality stockings are available in most sizes. Several
stores specialize in maternity wear.
Even on casual occasions, Chilean women tend to dress more
fashionably than most American women do. Not many Chilean women
would be caught at the grocery store in sweat clothes, flip-flops,
cut-offs, or a T-shirt. Attractive casual wear of every type is
readily available in local stores, or it can be ordered from the
Children Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:21 PM
It is possible to find attractive and reasonably priced
children’s clothing here, but most parents bring an initial supply
from the U.S. and supplement with local purchases or mail order from
the U.S. Again, children should have clothes that address a variety
of temperatures: knit and flannel garments, jeans, warm pajamas,
sweaters, a medium-weight ski jacket for winter. Snowsuits and boots
are useful for trips to the ski resorts. Satisfactory cotton and
synthetic shorts and shirts can be purchased locally for summer
wear, but often require more care than similar U.S. garments.
Children’s shoe stores are ubiquitous in the malls, but styles
and sizes are sometimes limited. Popular brand-name athletic shoes
are sold in most stores at relatively high prices, but local brands
are more reasonably priced. Baby supplies of every kinds can be
purchased in Chile, as can larger items like strollers, cribs, and
high chairs, but brand names Americans recognize are significantly
more expensive. In most cases, these can be ordered from the States.
Good-quality clothing for infants and toddlers is readily available.
School uniforms are required in Chilean schools, with the
exception of nursery schools. However, The International School Nido
de Aguilas, the school which most Embassy children attend, requires
uniforms for grades 1–5 only. Children in the middle and high
schools at Nido are required to wear uniforms only during P.E.
Otherwise they wear the same clothing popular in a typical U.S. high
school. Children at The International Preparatory School (TIPS) do
not wear uniforms, except in P.E. classes. Uniforms, if needed,
should be purchased locally to meet the requirements of the school.
Younger children sometimes wear coveralls or smocks over their
uniforms. These are also sold locally.
Supplies and Services
Supplies Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:22 PM
Many well-known brands of American and international toiletries
are available on the Chilean market; some are manufactured locally
and reasonably priced. Bring an initial supply of over-the-counter
medicines, cosmetics, sunscreen, moisturizers, and other personal
grooming aids. Favorite toiletries that are unavailable here can
usually be ordered via the APO.
Welcome Kits are available for use pending the arrival of
household effects (HHE), but personnel should bring basic household
supplies and appliances useful for setting up housekeeping. Remember
that electricity in Chile is 220v/50-cycle. Plastic containers,
kitchen, and hardware items are available in local stores to
supplement personal supplies.
A quarter-inch drill with concrete and carbide bits is useful for
hanging pictures. For minor household repairs, include a basic tool
kit (including hammer, insulated screwdrivers, and large pliers or
wrench). There are several large do-it-yourself stores in Santiago.
They carry all the same familiar hardware and household items that
one can possibly need.
Well-stocked office supply stores and supermarkets carry a wide
variety of ribbon, wrapping paper, school, art, and office supplies.
Significantly more expensive items, such as specialty printer paper
(for digital photography, greeting cards and transparencies) and
printer cartridges can be brought from the U.S. or mail-ordered.
Name-brand children’s toys, such as Lego or Fischer Price, are
significantly higher priced than in the U.S. So is computer software
(which is also mostly in Spanish). Because of the many birthday
parties to which younger children get invited, many parents put a
stock of presents in their airfreight. Santiago has party stores,
with a good supply of decorations for birthdays and other occasions.
You may wish to bring an artificial Christmas tree in your shipment.
Good-quality artificial trees are available here, but at higher
prices than the U.S.
Supplies and Services
Basic Services Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:23 PM
Most services one would find in the U.S. are available here.
Laundry service, dry-cleaning, and shoe repair are good quality and
also less expensive. Service at beauty salons is comparable to that
in the U.S. The same is true of barbershops.
Car repairs and service are readily obtained for American and
foreign cars, but quality can be uneven. Include basic auto
replacement parts such as belts, gaskets, filters, and windshield
wipers in your HHE shipment, since spare parts are more expensive,
or may not be available for your particular model. Auto rental rates
are very expensive—$60 and up per day.
Carpenters and upholsterers are available, but check their
references to ensure quality. Small appliance repairmen charge less
than in the U.S., but parts for imported models may be hard to find
or expensive. Computer service is good, and rates are close to those
in the U.S. Film developing and printing of most types of film are
available locally, although some types of color film may require
processing in the U.S. Mail order and Internet film developers and
suppliers are good alternatives for those who want to avoid the
higher price of local developing.
Supplies and Services
Domestic Help Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:29 PM
Many employees hire a maid (“nana”), either live-in (“puertas
adentro”) or live-out (“puertas afuera”). Live-in maids are becoming
more difficult to find, but day maids, full or part-time, are
readily available. Heavy work, such as washing windows and waxing
floors, is usually done by men called “mozos,” who work weekly or
monthly, depending on the need.
Gardeners, who sometimes double as mozos, are available, but may
require training. Full-time, live-out help will expect a light
breakfast, a substantial hot lunch, and perhaps tea and a sandwich
around 5 p.m. Uniforms are optional. Room and board are provided for
live-in help. Employers usually are expected to pay transportation
costs for day maids The employer pays a monthly salary (presently
about $300–$350 for live-out help), as well as social security
benefits and taxes equal to about 25% of the total monthly salary.
Bonuses at Christmas and on Chilean National Day in September are
customary for all household and garden help. The Community Liaison
Office has information on finding domestic help and gardeners, and
on the going salary and bonus rates.
Religious Activities Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:29 PM
Chile is predominantly Roman Catholic, but Spanish-speaking
Protestant congregations also abound. For the English-speaking
community, the Santiago Community Church offers English-language
Protestant services, and the Holy Cross Order at St. George’s School
provides a Roman Catholic Mass in English. Other faiths represented
in the city are Anglican, Presbyterian, Christian Science, Mormon,
Baptist, Jewish, Greek Orthodox, Seventh-day Adventist, Jehovah’s
Witnesses and Bahai’i; some services are in English.
The Santiago Community Church holds Sunday school for children.
Through The International Preparatory School, Nido de Aguilas, and
other schools, Roman Catholic religious instruction is available.
There is a Jewish day school. The Estadio Israelita (community
center) offers religious instruction (in Spanish) on Friday
afternoons for children who do not attend the day school.
At Post Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:31 PM Chile’s established
public school system is supplemented by numerous private schools for
students from nursery through high school. The Chilean school year
extends from March to mid-December, with a vacation of 2 weeks in
July and 1 week in September). Most American children attend the
International School Nido de Aguilas (Casilla 16.211, Santiago 9), a
coeducational, nonsectarian school for Chilean and foreign students
in prekindergarten through 12th grade.
Nido follows a modified U.S. school calendar, which begins around
August 1 and ends around June 30, with a 2-month break from
mid-December to mid-February. The language of instruction is
English; the curriculum, textbooks, and teaching methods are all
based on U.S. standards. The U.S. Southern Association of Colleges
and Schools accredits the school. The student-teacher ratio is 20 to
Currently, Nido has over 1,100 students. The headmaster is
American, as are about one-third of the teachers. The elementary
school offers an individually guided program based on language arts,
math, social studies, science, music, and art. The secondary school
prepares students to meet the admission requirements of both U.S.
and Latin American universities. The International Baccalaureate
(IB) program for grades 11 and 12 offers advanced-level instruction
in English, math, science, and social studies, which can provide
advanced placement in college.
College and career counseling for Chilean, U.S., and other
international students is a regular part of the high school program.
The middle and high schools are members of the National Junior Honor
Society and National Honor Societies respectively. Middle and high
school students can participate in Nido’s active sports program.
There are numerous extracurricular activities for students at all
levels. The music program includes three bands, an orchestra, and a
Nido has an active guidance and counseling program at all levels.
There is a limited gifted program in the elementary school, but no
designated gifted program in the middle or high school, although
individually tailored programs are possible in middle and high
school, as well as IB coursework in high school. Nido has a very
limited program for children requiring supplemental or remedial
education in the elementary school, but no such programs in the
middle or high schools.
Several other schools offer opportunities to study in English.
Some of the schools that Embassy children currently attend or have
recently attended include The International Preparatory School
(TIPS), a British-based school with an enrollment of about 120,
which offers a program from Pre-K to grade 12 and Santiago College
(pre-K through grade 12), a U.S. accredited, bilingual school with
courses taught in English in the lower grades and switching
primarily to Spanish in the upper grades.
There are other private schools throughout Santiago that offer an
American curriculum, although most are not U.S.-accredited. For
personnel who wish their children to receive instruction in a third
language, French, Italian, and German schools offers programs in
those languages in the lower grades. Personnel interested in a local
school other than Nido de Aguilas can write to the CLO for
additional information. Although tuition and associated expenses at
Nido determine the education allowance at post, parents who select
another school in Santiago receive an allowance up to that level,
which is usually sufficient to cover tuition and related fees.
Please note that private schools in Santiago have only limited
resources available for learning-disabled children. Both Nido and
TIPS offer some special reading programs and remedial assistance,
but none of the schools is equipped to handle more than mild
learning disabilities. Tutors are available in most subjects, and
this expense may be reimbursable under the education allowance (see
FAM 271, 274.12, and 276.9). If your child has special education
requirements, please consult with the State Department’s Office of
Overseas Schools, the Community Liaison Office at post, and your
agency before accepting an assignment to Santiago.
Away From Post Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:31 PM Special
Spanish-language courses for adults are available through private
tutors. The Instituto Chileno-Norteamericano provides special study
opportunities, such as lectures on Chilean history and culture, as
well as Spanish- and English-language training. The Institute’s
library features facilities in both English and Spanish. A staff
member at the Institute specializes in counseling students planning
to attend a U.S. college or university.
Courses in painting, judo, ceramics, ballet, guitar, folk singing
and dancing and other cultural subjects are offered at various
institutes around Santiago. There are good professional schools in
classical dance and a respected music conservatory with excellent
instruction. Fees vary but compare favorably with U.S. prices.
French-language courses are available at the Alliance Française
and the French Binational Institute; German is taught at the Goethe
Institute. Admission for Mission personnel to Santiago universities
can usually be arranged for those fluent in Spanish and with
adequate academic credentials. However, U.S. colleges and
universities do not always recognize credits from local
universities. Several institutes offer computer training. The
Embassy also offers language training and computer classes on a
Recreation and Social Life
Sports Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:33 PM
Chile offers a wide variety of sports activities throughout the
year. Tennis is played year round in private clubs or on a few
public courts. Most courts are clay, and players should bring balls
from the U.S., as they are expensive here. Fees range from about $8
and up per hour for a court. Squash, paddle tennis, and racquetball
are all available. Most Embassy homes have swimming pools (useful
only in the summer), but serious swimmers might prefer to join a
private club with a larger, sometimes indoor, pool.
Golf is a favorite pastime in Chile, and many courses are
excellent. All of the golf clubs in Santiago are private, ranging in
price from prohibitively expensive (Club de Golf Los Leones) to
fairly reasonable (Club de Golf Lomas de La Dehesa). Some clubs
welcome nonmembers. For nongolfers, a sports club such as Stade
Française, which offers tennis, squash, swimming, and a restaurant,
may be more appealing. Commercial gyms with weight machines and
supervised exercise programs abound; prices are affordable. Club
Universidad Catolica, right next door to the Embassy, offers
discounted memberships to Embassy personnel.
Water sports are popular throughout Chile. The lakes in the
Central Valley and the south attract boaters and water skiers. In
some of the coastal cities, motor and sailboats are available for
rent. If you have your own boat, you can keep it in private yacht
clubs located along the coast and on some lakes. Whitewater rafting
trips for beginners and experts can be arranged on some rivers,
although care should be taken in choosing an experienced guide, as
some of the rivers are treacherous. Scuba diving requires a wetsuit
due to the cold ocean water.
Chile offers superb trout fishing from October through mid-April
in the south central part of the country and some mountain lakes.
However, the nearest freshwater fishing spots are over 4 hours away
by car, and ideal trout and salmon fishing streams are a day away by
car, bus, or train or about 3 hours by plane. Deep-sea fishing
(broadbill, swordfish, and marlin) and surfcasting, are also
available but less popular. Heavy tackle (20–25 pounds) is
Hunting is popular, but all of Chile’s larger game is endangered
and therefore protected. Rifles may only be used in the extreme
southern part of Chile. Most hunters use 12-gauge shotguns with No.
8 shot. Mission personnel are permitted to import 1,000 rounds of
ammunition, which is also available locally. Partridge, quail,
doves, ducks, and rabbits are hunted throughout Chile, but very
little game is found within a few hours drive of Santiago.
Horseback riding and hiking are year-round activities in
Santiago. Several riding academies and clubs rent horses and provide
instruction. Riding trips from a few hours to a week can be
arranged, and during the summer there are children’s camps that
specialize in horseback riding. There is also a polo club. The
mountains visible from Santiago offer a challenge to the day hiker
as well as to the experienced mountaineer. At 8,700 feet, Provincia
can be scaled in a day, while the Cajon de Maipo, southeast of
Santiago, is a mountain climber’s paradise, with peaks reaching over
20,000 feet. There are hiking and climbing clubs in Santiago,
catering to the needs of beginners and experts alike. Experienced
guides are available for the most challenging climbs.
Skiing ranks as the outstanding winter sport in Chile, where some
of the finest skiing centers in the hemisphere are located. The
skiing season extends from June to October (and occasionally through
November). The most popular ski areas are Portillo, 3 hours away
from Santiago on the international highway to Mendoza, Argentina,
and the local ski runs at Farellones, Colorado, Valle Nevado, and La
Parva, all about an hour away from Santiago. Hotel rooms are
expensive, and reservations for July and August must be made several
months in advance. The slopes are never as crowded as they often are
in the U.S.
Spectator sports include soccer, horseracing, and rodeos. Team
sports for youngsters are offered at Nido de Aguilas (which has good
facilities) and some other schools, as well as at some of the
private clubs. The local softball league welcomes players and fans
alike. Santiago has two bowling alleys, and several Mission
personnel have joined a bowling league. The American Association
also sponsors a ladies’ bowling league and a men’s basketball group.
Shoes, clothing, and equipment for nearly every sport are
available in Santiago. Prices and quality vary. For instance,
imported European skis are expensive but are comparable to U.S.
prices, while good fishing gear is very expensive. Golf equipment is
expensive, while a top-quality tennis or squash racket may cost
slightly less than in the U.S.
Recreation and Social Life
Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:36 PM
Not many posts rival Chile for tourist activities; many
opportunities are just a day trip from Santiago. On a typical
Saturday in winter, you can choose between a day on the local ski
slopes, a trip to a vineyard, a leisurely lunch at a beach-side
restaurant, or a trip to a nearby thermal bath. In summer, Chileans
head for the beach; clean beaches are within a 2- to a 4-hour drive
from Santiago. Some, however, are dangerous because of strong
undertows and lack of lifeguards; the cold Pacific water makes
swimming a challenge, even in summer. Chile’s largest summer resort
area, Viña del Mar, offers excellent hotels, a municipal gambling
casino, night clubs, golf and tennis facilities, a racetrack, and
public beaches. Other fine beaches, located both south and north of
Viña, often lack the accommodations and facilities of the more
popular resorts, but are far less crowded.
Farther afield is Chile’s Lake District, about 500 miles south of
Santiago. Known as the “Switzerland of South America,” this area
offers excellent trout fishing and beautiful scenery. There are also
many thermal baths, pubs, hiking and horseback riding opportunities.
A limited number of hotels requires advance reservations during
January and February. Even further south, one can take boat trips
through the channels and fiords from Puerto Montt to Punta Arenas
through the Straits of Magellan or visit the magnificent wilderness
preserve, Torres del Paine National Park, near Punta Arenas. For
island fans, there are excursions to the Juan Fernandez Islands, 360
miles off the coast at Valparaiso or a trip to Easter Island in the
In Chile’s extreme north (1,300 miles from Santiago), Arica
features year-round spring weather, making it a popular winter
destination. It is also the base for excursions to Lauca National
Park, with vicu¤as, flamingos, and other Andean wildlife. All of the
major northern seacoast cities—La Serena, Antofagasta, Iquique, and
Arica—have a mild climate, sandy beaches, and sunshine most of the
year. Northeast of Antofagasta is San Pedro de Atacama. Surrounded
by the driest desert in the world, San Pedro is also a staging
ground for trips into the high plains of the Chilean Andes
(Altiplano) and Bolivia.
Throughout Chile, opportunities for mountain climbing, hiking,
and camping abound. Camping facilities vary widely, but most provide
baths and hot showers. Campsites are crowded during January and
February, but usually are empty the rest of the summer. Camping
equipment and supplies are readily available, but are usually less
expensive if purchased in the U.S.
Mission personnel also have opportunities to visit other
countries in the hemisphere. Lima, Peru is only 3½ hours away by
air; prime attractions reached from there are the Incan cities of
Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Buenos Aires (700 miles from Santiago),
Montevideo, and Rio de Janeiro are other favorite tourist
destinations. Mendoza, Argentina, a wine growing area, is only 40
minutes away by air or 4–5 hours by car; however, in winter the pass
is often closed by snow. Argentina also has a scenic Lake District,
and it is possible (in a four-wheel-drive) to drive all the way down
to Tierra del Fuego on the Argentine side of the Andes.
Recreation and Social Life
Entertainment Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:37 PM
In Santiago, the Teatro Municipal is the center of an opera
season, two ballet seasons, and two symphony orchestras that offer
weekly concerts during winter. Chamber music and choral groups
perform frequently. Inexpensive concerts are held weekly during the
season at lunch time with sandwiches and beverages on sale in the
theater lobby. Economical season tickets are available.
Theater plays an active role in Santiago’s cultural life. Several
theaters present a variety of dramatic and satirical plays in
Spanish throughout the year. An English-language amateur theater
group, Santiago Stage, produces shows and is delighted to welcome
amateur stage hands and actors.
Movie theaters in the city and suburbs are good and less
expensive than in the U.S. Foreign films, which include many
American films, are shown in their original language with Spanish
subtitles. Children’s films are almost always dubbed into Spanish.
Santiago has a few good nightclubs and discotheques. Chileans prefer
entertaining in their own homes, but young unmarried adults
frequently patronize clubs. Teenagers are generally pleased with the
nightlife here. Several discotheques cater to their age group, and
young people usually go with a group of friends. Unfortunately for
parents, Chileans keep much later hours, and discotheques and
private parties often begin between 11 p.m. and midnight, making
typical U.S. curfews a challenge to enforce. Plenty of
average-to-very good restaurants are available in Santiago. Most
restaurants begin serving at about 8 p.m.
For children, there are several amusement parks and arcades,
including Chuck E. Cheese. There is a zoo in Parque Metropolitano,
which is modest by American standards, but relatively clean. It is
accessible via an interesting Swiss-built cog railway car. There is
a good interactive children’s museum and several children’s theater
groups. Many parks in the Providencia, Los Dominicos and Vitacura
areas of Santiago have good-quality playground equipment. Both in
Santiago and outside of town, there are farms (granjas educativas)
that specialize in teaching children about barnyard animals. During
the long summer, children can participate in one or more summer camp
programs, often organized around a theme such as sports, art and
crafts, or the environment.
Recreation and Social Life
Among Americans Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:37 PM Membership in the
American Association of Chile (AAC) is open to all U.S. citizens in
Chile, as well as to citizens of other English-speaking countries.
Monthly general meetings provide a good opportunity to meet
Americans from the private sector. The Association sponsors a
variety of activities, such as tennis, golf, bowling, bridge, a
library, quilting, and sewing groups, and several charitable
activities. Within the Embassy, the Community Liaison Office
sponsors tours and parties for Embassy personnel.
Recreation and Social Life
International Contacts Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:37 PM The Rotary
and the Lions Club have several local chapters. The U.S. Chamber of
Commerce has an affiliate in Santiago. There is also a professional
women’s group, to which some Embassy spouses belong. Both the YWCA
and the YMCA offer facilities for sports and cultural programs in
the downtown area.
Nature of Functions Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:38 PM
Frequent official functions consist of the customary lunches,
dinners and receptions. Informal, at-home entertaining is common
among Chileans, U.S. and other foreign nationals. Organizations for
diplomats at all levels promote contact with counterparts at other
Embassies through special programs, lunches, and social events. For
example, there is a club for consular officers and the “Circulo
Diplomatico” for any officer below the ambassadorial level. A
women’s group, the “Damas Diplomaticas,” for spouses of those on the
Diplomatic List, meets monthly and sponsors charitable fundraising
Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:38 PM
All officers and staff employees are introduced to the Ambassador
and DCM soon after arrival. Spouses are encouraged — but not
expected — to call on the spouses of the Ambassador, the DCM, and
their section or agency chief soon after arrival. Members of the
diplomatic corps are announced to the Foreign Ministry and to the
diplomatic missions by Embassy Note. Officers whose duties require
calling on officials outside the Mission should arrange to have
business cards printed at the Embassy’s print shop immediately upon
Special Information Last Updated: 12/8/2003 3:39 PM
Chile is one of the most seismologically active places on earth,
and destructive earthquakes have struck the country periodically
throughout its history. Residents of Santiago will frequently feel
tremors, which seldom result in damage. The Welcome Packet provided
upon arrival at post includes information on earthquake
preparedness, which employees should review thoroughly and, if
applicable, share with family members.
Post Orientation Program
Through the Community Liaison Office, the post operates a welcome
and orientation program, which includes correspondence prior to
arrival and a sponsorship program whereby members of the Embassy
community provide support and guidance to newcomers in the initial
period of adjustment. A post orientation is routinely held for all
newly arrived U.S. personnel and their family members, at which the
Ambassador and DCM explain Mission goals, and section and agency
heads explain their respective functions within the Mission.
CLO provides an orientation that includes information on family
employment, schools, churches, and domestic employees and tourism,
depending on needs. Human Resources, the regional security officer,
and the Medical Unit also provide orientation information upon
arrival. A Welcome Packet for new arrivals contains administrative
guidelines and information on living in Chile. It should be reviewed
immediately by the employee and all older family members upon
Notes For Travelers
Getting to the Post Last Updated: 12/8/2003 2:57 PM
United, Delta, and American Airlines all fly from various U.S.
cities into Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport just outside
Santiago. Flight times vary from 6½ to 9 hours, depending on the
point of departure. Most flights arrive in the morning. All agencies
meet new arrivals traveling by air if arrangements are made in
advance. If for some reason a new arrival is not met, he or she
should call the Embassy at 232–2600 (weekdays) or 330–3321
(after-hours), and arrangements can be made for transportation to
Newly assigned personnel should contact the general services
officer, as well as the agency or section head, as far ahead of
arrival as possible with details such as exact arrival date, special
housing needs, information on accompanying pets, etc. Military
personnel should correspond with the Defense Attaché’s Office for
specific information about their assignment to Chile. Air freight
should be shipped at least 2 weeks before an employee’s scheduled
arrival so that it will arrive in a timely fashion. Surface freight
(HHE) takes 6 weeks to 2 months.
Employees and family members will each need about six small (1” x
2”) color photographs for identification cards. Men’s photos require
ties. All personnel, spouses, and older dependents receive special
identity cards issued by the Foreign Office, as well as Embassy I.D.
cards. Personnel can obtain identity card photos at post quickly and
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Customs and Duties Last Updated: 12/8/2003 2:55 PM
Personnel traveling on a diplomatic or official passport must
obtain a diplomatic or official entry visa through the Department of
State or a Chilean Embassy overseas before arriving at post.
Personnel or family members arriving on a U.S. tourist passport do
not need an entry visa, but they will be assessed a fee of $61 upon
arrival at Customs. Fulbright grantees traveling on a U.S. tourist
passport can, however, obtain a visa, and thus a fee waiver.
Multiple-entry visas can be obtained as appropriate after arrival by
special arrangement between the Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign
All personnel with diplomatic or consular titles have duty-free
entry privileges. In addition, all personnel of MILGP have
free-entry privileges through an agreement with the Chilean
Government. Only after the employee has arrived and has been
accredited to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs may the Embassy clear
through Customs unaccompanied air baggage, surface shipments of
household effects, and a personal vehicle. If UAB or HHE arrives
before the employee, the Embassy will remove the property from
Customs and place in bonded storage.
Diplomatically accredited personnel are entitled to duty-free
importation of their household effects and one personally owned
vehicle up to a maximum value of $80,000, including cost, insurance,
and freight. These items must be brought into the country within the
first year after the employee is accredited to the Chilean
Government. Diplomatic personnel are further entitled to import duty
free up to $5,000 worth of personal effects during each successive
year of their tours. Administrative and Technical personnel are
entitled to duty-free entry of their HHE and one personal vehicle up
to a total value of $25,000, excluding freight costs, during their
first year in Chile. After 1 year in Chile, Administrative and
Technical personnel may not import duty free any additional effects.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises that it is contemplating an
increase of the limits imposed on Administrative and Technical
personnel. Please contact the general services officer for details.
Chile permits the importation of personal vehicles equipped with
catalytic converters only. Diplomatically accredited personnel may
import a second car after the first one has been in the country more
than 2 years. Personnel may dispose of the first car after it has
been in the country for 3 years. The second car is not charged
against the employee’s import value quota. The following
restrictions apply to the importation of vehicles:
The Chilean Government does not allow Administrative and
Technical staff to import a replacement vehicle during a tour of
Permission must be granted by post before importing a vehicle.
When requesting such permission, provide the make, model, and year
of vehicle to be imported.
As of December 2001, the Government of Chile has begun to enforce
a regulation that requires only current-model vehicles (automobile,
truck, motorcycle) can be imported, with few exceptions. For more
information please contact the GSO.
The Chilean Government requires that the owner of a duty-free
vehicle pay 18% VAT (Value Added Tax) upon resale in Chile,
effectively reducing the potential resale value of the vehicle.
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Passage Last Updated: 12/8/2003 2:55 PM
Employees wishing to drive to Santiago from a nearby post on
transfer orders should save all border/Customs documents and deliver
them to the GSO Section once in Chile. After the Embassy receives
this documentation and the employee has been accredited, the Embassy
will obtain a free-entry decree for the vehicle.
Customs, Duties, and Passage
Pets Last Updated: 12/8/2003 2:56 PM
Importation of household pets is permitted. To import a dog or
cat, the owner must have a rabies certificate that is not less than
one month old but not more than twelve months old prior to shipment,
as well as a health certificate issued by a veterinarian. The
certificate must be offically certified by the Animal and Plant
Health Inspection Services (APHIS). Rabies and health certificates
must be presented to the Chilean Animal Health Department upon entry
into Chile. There is no quarantine required.
Some U.S. airlines will not accept pets as accompanied baggage
during the summer months (May 15–September 15). The State
Department’s Overseas Briefing Center website maintains up-to-date
information on current airline restrictions on pet travel. Employees
planning to import a pet should contact the post’s Administrative
Section for more information prior to arrival.
Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 12/8/2003 2:54 PM
Only the following nonautomatic firearms may be brought into
Pistols and revolver — one per adult, nothing larger than .357 or
9mm Rifles — one per adult, .22 calibre only Shotguns — one per
adult, sporting models only Shotguns — no restrictions Rifles —
hunting caliber Ammunition — 1,000 rounds for above firearms
Firearms may be included in household effects but not carried in
luggage or included in airfreight. The packing list must provide the
make, model, caliber, and serial number of the firearm. Weapons will
be registered as per Chilean Law with the Ministry of Defense,
Direccion General de Movilización Nacional. All Mission personnel
wanting to import firearms into Chile must request permission in
writing from the Ambassador and provide in advance (via cable) the
following information to the RSO.
Name of Owner Date and place of birth Passport number Make,
model, caliber, serial number of firearm Intended use of firearm
(defensive or sport)
Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated:
12/8/2003 2:53 PM
The peso (written $) is Chile’s official currency. The official
rate of exchange as of December 2001 was $666 to 1 U.S. dollar. In
the past year, the peso has depreciated about 15% against the
dollar. The peso/dollar exchange rate continues to change slightly
on a daily basis, and the trend toward a weaker peso is expected to
continue into the near future.
Chile has a large number of modern banking facilities offering
convenient branch banking and an array of Internet banking services.
U.S. banks, such as Citibank and Bank of Boston, have full-service
operations in Santiago and in other major cities. Automatic teller
machines (ATMs) featuring “Cirrus” and “Plus” systems abound; one is
located in the chancery basement. Citibank operates a currency
exchange and limited banking facility, located on the first floor of
the chancery. Staff should consider bringing ATM and/or debit cards
to post in addition to personal checks.
Chile uses the metric system of weights and measures.
Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 12/8/2003
Official U.S. Government personnel do not pay Chilean income
taxes (except for Eligible Family Members working on the local
economy) but do pay an 18% value added tax (IVA) on most goods and
some services acquired in Chile. This tax is usually included in
quoted prices and rates. No fee is charged for CD (diplomatic) or
PAT (administrative-technical) license plates, which are valid for
the duration of the assignment. Driver’s licenses are provided for a
Applicable taxes must be paid on cars (and selected other
personal property items) that were imported duty-free when such
items are sold. The Embassy can provide reverse accommodation
exchange (pesos to dollars) for pesos received from the sale of cars
and other personal property only when the employee is transferred or
a car is sold for replacement purposes.
Citibank at the Embassy accepts personal U.S. checks to purchase
Chilean pesos and maintains a limited supply of U.S. dollars for
travel outside the country. Personnel may establish a peso checking
account at local banks, and some people use local credit and debit
cards. U.S. traveler’s checks are available at the Embassy Citibank
window or through a local bank at which one has an account.
Recommended Reading Last Updated: 12/8/2003 2:52 PM
These titles are provided as a general sample of the material
published on this country. The Department of State does not endorse
Allende, Isabel, The House of Spirits, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. New
Boeninger, Edgardo, Democracia en Chile: lecciones para la
gobernabilidad, Editorial Santiago, Chile, Andrés Bello, 1998.
Collier, Simon, and William F. Sater, A History of Chile,
1808–1994, Cambridge University Press, Oxford, 1996.
Committee on Foreign Affairs, U.S. House of Representatives.
United States and Chile During the Allende Years, 1970–73, U.S.
Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C., 1975.
Constable, Pamela and Arturo Valenzuela, A Nation of Enemies:
Chile Under Pinochet,W.W. Norton, New York, 1993.
Davis, Nathaniel, The Last Two Years of Salvador Allende, Cornell
University Press, Ithaca, 1985.
Duijker, Hubrecht, The Wines of Chile, Het Spectrum BV, 2000.
Larraín, Felipe; Vergara, Rodrigo, Centro de Estudios Públicos
(Chile), La Transformación Económica de Chile, Editorial Santiago,
Centro de Estudios Públicos, 2000.
Lomnitz, Larissa Adler, Ana Melnick, et. al., Chile’s Political
Culture and Parties: An Anthropological Explanation, University of
Notre Dame Press, 2000.
Loveman, Brian, The Legacy of Hispanic Capitalism, Oxford
University Press, 2001.
Martínez Javier, Chile: The Great Transformation, Washington,
D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1996
Meehan, John, With Darwin in Chile (Con Darwin en Chile),
Frederick Muller, Ltd, London, 1967.
Muñoz, Heraldo, and Carlos Portales, Elusive Friendship: A Survey
of U.S.- Chilean Relations (Lacc Studies on Latin America and the
Caribbean), Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1991.
Neruda, Pablo, Memoirs, Viking Press, 1999.
Nunn, Frederick. The Military in Chilean History, University of
New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 1976.
Popcock, H.R.S., The Conquest of Chile, Stein and Day, New York,
Roraff, Susan, and Laura Camacho, Culture Shock! Chile, Graphic
Arts Center Publishing Co., Portland, 1999.
Rodriguez Monegal, Emir, Ed., The Borzoi Anthology of Latin
American Literature (Volumes I and II), Alfred K. Knopf, New York,
Sigmund, Paul, The United States and Democracy in Chile, Johns
Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1993
Smith, Brian, The Church and Politics in Chile: Challenges to
Modern Catholicism, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1982.
Toloza, Castillo, Cristián Lahera, Eugenio, Chile en los Noventa,
Editorial Santiago de Chile, Presidencia de la República: Dolmen
University of Chile, Institute of International Studies, Chile:
The Balanced View. University of Chile, Santiago, 1975.
Local Holidays Last Updated: 12/8/2003 2:51 PM
The U.S. Mission observes official U.S. holidays and is also
closed on the following local holidays:
Good Friday April (Variable) Labor Day May 1 Battle of Iquique
May 21 Corpus Christi Variable St. Peter and St. Paul Day June (4th
Monday) Assumption Day August 15 National Unity Day September (1st
Monday) Chilean Independence Day September 18 Day of the Armed
Forces September 19 Discovery of Two Worlds October (2nd Monday) All
Saints Day November 1 mmaculate Conception December 8