Friends in Chile

Chile is located on the southwestern coast of South America. The principal language is Spanish. The Indians called this region chilli, which means the place where the land ends. Chile extends from Arica in the north to Cape Horn in the south, a total of 2,650 miles, and at no place is the country more than 225 miles wide.

Chile has many islands, some of which are well-known—Isla de Pascua (Easter Island) and the Juan Fernandez islands, where Robinson Crusoe supposedly lived.

The most arid desert in the world, the Atacama Desert, lies in the north of Chile between the coastal ranges and the Andes Mountains. This desert of bare brown hills has no vegetation but is rich in nitrates and copper. The first railroad in South America was built to transport iron ore between Caldera and Calderilla. In this area is an old fort, Pukara de Lassana, with ruins dating to pre-Inca times.

Situated between the seacoast and the Andes in the central valley area is Santiago, the capital city of Chile. This city was founded on Santa Lucia Hill February 12, 1541. Because the long growing season is free from extremes of cold and heat, all varieties of fruits grow well in this region. Only an hour’s ride east from Santiago are the famous Farrellones slopes, where people ski year around in weather that is 40 degrees to 60 degrees.

On the seacoast west of Santiago is the city of Valparaiso, famous for resorts and beaches. The center of the city is surrounded by forty-one hills, which are covered with houses, winding streets, and steep cobbled lanes.

South of Santiago, in the central part of Chile, is the Bio-Bio, the widest river in Chile. The river cuts through plateaus and broad valleys on its way to the city of Concepcion on the coast of the Pacific Ocean.

The southern area of Chile is heavily forested with rugged hills and lakes formed by glaciers. The San Rafael glacier is the most northern glacier in the Southern Hemisphere to reach the sea. Near Los Angeles, the majestic Laja Falls drop over three separate levels. Rivers in this area are filled with trout and salmon.

South of Los Angeles and near the sea is the city of Valdivia. Near this city, stone defense barriers and moss-covered ruins of an old fort date back to 1676. They were built to protect the people from enemies.

The archipelago in the south of Chile is one of the wettest and stormiest regions in the world. In an average year, two hundred inches of rain will fall, and the sun will shine only fifty-one days.

At the extreme southern tip of Chile are the Straits of Magellan and beyond them the prairies of the island of Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire). These prairies, which are swept by polar winds day and night, house and feed large flocks of sheep. Punta Arenas, the world’s southernmost city, is on the eastern edge of the Straits of Magellan.

The high Andes are along the border of Chile and Argentina. The highest peak (22,835 feet) in the Western Hemisphere is Aconcagua. It is just over the border from Chile in Argentina. Active volcanoes are all along the western slopes of the Andes.

At the end of a bitter border dispute with Argentina, a statue twenty-six feet high was erected on March 13, 1904, on the border of Chile and Argentina. It stands on a granite hemisphere on the summit of Uspallata Pass, more than 12,000 feet above sea level. The statute was created by an Argentine sculptor, Mateo Alonzo, and was molded from metal of old Argentine cannons. It is the figure of Christo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer). An inscription in Spanish reads: “Sooner shall the mountains crumble into dust than the Argentines and Chileans break the peace to which they have pledged themselves at the feet of Christ the Redeemer.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has five schools in Chile. The Carrazco children of Playa Ancha attend the Mormon School in Vina del Mar. They wear special uniforms and ride city buses to school. Children attend Primary on Saturdays and usually walk to their Church meetings.

Boys play marbles and soccer and girls like to jump the rope. These children love games that are familiar to children all over the world.

[illustration] Illustrated by Sherry Thompson