Santiago, officially named Santiago de Chile, is the federal capital of Chile, and the center of its largest metropolitan area, known as "Greater Santiago, whose total population is 7 million. Santiago is also considered one of the largest cities in the Americas.
Founded in 1541 by the Spanish conqueror Pedro de Valdivia, Santiago has been the capital city of Chile since colonial times.
The city lies in the center of the Santiago Basin, an enormous bowl-shaped valley consisting of a broad and fertile plain surrounded by mountains. It is flanked by the main chain of the Andes on the east and the Chilean Coastal Range on the west. On the north, it is bounded by the Cordón de Chacabuco, a transverse mountain range of the Andes, whereas at the southern border lies Angostura de Paine, a valley narrowing where an elongated spur of the Andes reaches nearly to the Coastal Range.
Santiago has a cool semi-arid climate with Mediterranean patterns: warm dry summers with temperatures reaching up to 35 °C on the hottest days.
Data and facts
- Santiago covers a total area of 641 square kilometers.
- The Andes Mountains can be seen from most points in the city.
- Due to Santiago's location on the Pacific Ring of Fire at the boundary of the Nazca and South American plates, it experiences a significant amount of tectonic activity.
- Head of state: President Sebastian Pinera
- Language: Spanish
- Country motto: By right or might
- Currency: Chilean peso (CLP)
- Median age: 34.8 years
- Life expectancy: 79.1 years
- Religion: 88.3% Christianity, 9.7% unaffiliated, 1.5% Folk
Although Santiago is the official capital of the Republic of Chile, Valparaiso has been the seat of the Chilean congress since 1990.
Greater Santiago lacks a metropolitan government for its administration, which is currently distributed between various authorities, complicating the operation of the city as a single entity. The highest authority in Santiago is the intendant of the Santiago Metropolitan Region, an unelected delegate of the president.
The whole of Greater Santiago does not fit perfectly into any administrative division, as it extends into four different provinces and 37 communes.
Each municipality in Chile is headed by a mayor (alcalde) elected by voters every four years. The members of the municipal council (concejales) are elected in the same election on a separate ballot.
Santiago is an economically divided city. The western half of the city is, on average, much poorer than the eastern communes, where the high-standard public and private facilities are concentrated.
Santiago is the industrial and financial center of Chile and is home to the country's Stock Exchange, major banks, and much of the nation's industry. The city generates 45% of the country's GDP and is one of the three major financial centers of South America, along with Buenos Aires and São Paulo. Some international institutions, such as ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean), have their offices in Santiago.
The metropolitan area of Santiago contains Chile’s greatest concentration of industry. Many Santiago residents work in factories which main products are foodstuffs, textiles, shoes, and clothes; metallurgy and copper mining are also important.
Santiago's steady economic growth over the past few decades has transformed it into a modern metropolis. The city is now home to a growing theater and restaurant scene, extensive suburban development, dozens of shopping centers, and a rising skyline, including the tallest building in Latin America, the Gran Torre Santiago.
Santiago has an active financial sector, including a stock exchange, the major banks with hundreds of branches, and many insurance companies headquartered in the city.
In recent years, due to the strong growth and stability of the Chilean economy, many multinational companies have also chosen Santiago as the location for their headquarters in the region, such as Hewlett Packard, Reuters, JP Morgan, Intel, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Nestlé, Kodak, BHP Billiton, IBM, Motorola, Microsoft, Ford, Yahoo!, and many more.
Santiago is Chile's retail capital. Falabella, Paris, Johnson, Ripley, La Polar, and several other department stores dot the mall landscape of Chile.
Santiago de Chile is served by two airports:
- Comodoro Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport is Santiago's national and international airport and the main hub of the city. It is the largest airport in Chile, ranked sixth in passenger traffic among Latin American airports,
- Eulogio Sánchez Airport is a small privately owned general aviation airport in the commune of La Reina.
Santiago has 37% of Chile's vehicles. An extensive network of streets and avenues stretching across Santiago along with a network of free flow toll highways connects the various areas of the city and facilitate travel between the different communities that make up the metropolitan area.
Apart from an extensive system of buses, the city is also served by the Santiago Metro, a rapid transit system that consists of seven lines and 136 stations. The Santiago Metro carries around 2.5 million passengers daily.
Start-Up Chile, the Chilean government’s program created in 2010 to attract innovative startups from all over the world, has put the country under the spotlight. It offers a most attractive package consisting of a USD 40,000 equity-free grant, plus a one-year visa, plus a 6 months-long mentoring. Start-Up Chile is now one of the largest and most heterogenous startup communities in the World.
Successive Chilean governments have undertaken to diversify the economy, still largely dominated by the mining and banking industries, by implementing numerous policies to create an attractive innovation hub. The Chilean Economic Development Agency (CORFO) has about 50 programs to support entrepreneurs, including foreign ones.
Since 2010, Chile has distributed upwards of $40 million to 1,300 budding businesses from almost 80 countries.
The growth in the country is such that the media are used to call the place Chilecon Valley. However, it would be more appropriate to call it Santiacon Valley. Indeed, according to different experts, more than 90% of the startups live and operate in Santiago, one of the most collaborative ecosystems of South America, if not the most. The density of entrepreneurs and ecosystem enablers per square meter is one of the highest in the Hispanic continent.
The city boasts about 18 accelerators/incubators of which 80% are public and equity free, as they are run by universities which are not allowed to own stakes in companies. Incuba UC, the accelerator of the University PUC Santiago is an exception to the rule.
For private accelerators, we find the two giants Wayra & Nxtp.labs, followed by ImagineLab powered by Microsoft and Magical Startup, one of the first accelerators born in Chile.
In terms of coworking spaces, it stands out Co-work Latam, one of the leaders of the market with 7 different spaces across Santiago, and IF Cowork that hosts 5 spaces. Other important players are Urban Station, or Edge Cowork.
Finally there has also been an important boom in fintech with startups such Broota, Cumplo the crowd factoring platform founded by Nicolas Shea, Pago 46, an application allowing to do online purchases by paying with cash thanks to a cash recollection service, Finciero, a virtual prepaid card, or Red Capital, a crowdfunding P2P lending platform.
Social wellness and human resources
Since the early 1990s, Chile's governmental National System of Health Services has organized broad public health programs. Government funding and a contribution of 7 percent of taxable income funds the SNSS with access open to all Chileans, free of charge in the case of indigents and of those with income below certain levels.
There are two medical schools in Santiago and several large hospitals including, Hospital Clinico, Universidad de Chile, Hospital del Salvador, and Hospital Clinico, Universidad Catolica de Chile.
Santiago's general basic education (EGB) is compulsory and lasts for eight years divided into two, four-year cycles. Students choose to specialize either in humanistic-scientific education (EMHC) or technical-professional education.
Among others, Santiago is the site of the University of Chile, founded in 1738, as the Royal University of San Felipe; the Catholic University of Chile (1888); the University of Santiago de Chile (1947); and the General Bernardo O'Higgins Military School (1817).
The most widely circulated newspapers in Chile are published by El Mercurio and Copesa. Santiago is also home to the major Chilean television networks including TVN, Mega, and Chilevision. In addition, the radio stations Radio Pudahuel and ADN are located in the city.
Santiago has a wealth of museums of different kinds, among which are three of 'National' class administered by the Directorate of Libraries, Archives and Museums (DIBAM): the National History Museum, National Museum of Fine Arts and the National Museum of Natural History.
Chilean music refers to all kinds of music developed in Chile, or by Chileans in other countries, from the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors to the modern day. It also includes the native pre-Columbian music from what is today Chilean territory. Some of the most popular traditional styles are cueca and tonada.
Football is the most popular sport in Chile. Santiago is home to some of Chile's most successful football clubs like Colo-Colo or Club Deportivo Universidad Católica.
The Chile national football team represents Chile in all major international football competitions. The team is controlled by the Federación de Fútbol de Chile which was established in 1895.
Rugby union and tennis are also popular sports.