Situated south of Peru and west of Bolivia and Argentina, Chile fills a narrow 2,880-mi (4,506 km) strip between the Andes and the Pacific. One-third of Chile is covered by the towering ranges of the Andes. Today Chile is one of South America's most stable and prosperous nations, a recognized middle power and an emerging economy. It leads Latin American nations in human development, competitiveness, income per capita,globalization and economic freedom.
One of only two countries in South America that does not share a common border with Brazil, Chile has the distinction of being the world's longest country. From north to south it stretches 4,300 kilometers or 2,700 miles in length. Chile is bordered to the west by the Pacific Ocean and to the east by the Andes Mountains. While being only 350 kilometers at its widest point, its unusual length, that covers 38 degrees of latitude, results in several very diverse geographic regions.
At the northern end of the country is the Atacama Desert, a land that is rich in copper deposits. Most of the population lives in the Central Valley, which includes the capital of Santiago. About 40 percent, or more than 6 million of the 17 million people living in Chile, live in Santiago and the surrounding metropolitan area. Further south, the terrain becomes populated with thick forests and lakes and eventually turns into a string of islands off the southern tip of the mainland.
Essential Facts about Chile
- Spanish is the official language of Chile
- The estimated population in 2012 was 17.403,000
- The highest point in Chile is Ojos del Salado in the Northern Andes. It rises 6857 meters or 22,500 feet above sea level.
- Chile is a founding member of the United Nations, the Union of South American Nations and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States
- Chile is a stable democracy with three branches of government. Led by a duly elected President, Congress is also voted in by the people. The Supreme Court justices are appointed by the President, who makes his choices from a list provided by the sitting justices and then submits his selections for ratification to the Senate.
- Politically, Chile is divided into 15 regions which are further divided into provinces and, at the most local level, into communes.
- Chile's chief exports include copper, fruit and fish products and their chief imports include petroleum, telecommunication equipment and industrial machines.
Depending on the time of the year and the particular part of the country you happen to be in, the weather can vary greatly. Most of Chile has four distinct seasons. Being in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are reversed from countries located in the northern latitudes. While July in New York can be a steamy hot day, in Chile, July is the middle of winter. In Santiago and the Central Valley, where most people live, a Mediterranean climate prevails with mild winters and warm, dry summers.
The Chilean Peso (CLP) is the official currency. Many of the most import foreign currencies such as the U.S. Dollar, British Pound and Euro enjoy a favorable exchange rate with the local currency. That makes the goods and services very affordable for international visitors.
Chili is a predominantly Roman Catholic country. In the 2002 Census, 70 percent of the population over the age of 14 were identified as Roman Catholics. Other branches of Christianity make up another 15 percent of religious faiths in the country. Freedom of religion is written into the Constitution and various laws and policies make sure that everyone in Chile is free to practice the religion of their choice.
Study in Chile
Higher Education in Chile
As a country, Chile places great importance on education at all levels. According to the 2011 QS World University Rankings, five of the best universities in the world were located in this South American country. Two of the standouts were the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and the University of Chile.
Pontifical Catholic University of Chile
Founded in 1888, this institution of higher learning has 18 schools and 4 campuses in Santiago plus a regional campus located in South Chile. The University offers many different fields of study including the sciences, health, economics, theology and the arts. Pontifical Catholic University of Chile believes strongly in the value of having students from diverse backgrounds and locations. Their very active exchange program includes relationships with more than 300 universities in 45 countries.
University of Chile
As the country's oldest and arguably most prestigious university, this institution of higher learning attracts about half of its foreign exchange students from the United States. Another 35 percent arrive from from European countries and about 5 percent from countries in Asia. The University of Chile prides itself on having an excellent faculty, a student body that achieves at the highest level and an atmosphere that encourages creativity and the pursuit of solutions to important national and world problems.
Steps to Becoming a Foreign Exchange Student
Generally, foreign exchange student candidates can enroll for one semester of a school year after completing two years of study at another school in their home country or an intermediary country. Candidates must be recommended by their previous school and then get the proper paperwork to enter the country and study. A student, upon entering the country must get a student visa within 30 days by going to the International Police, presenting their passport and filling out an application.
Spanish is a necessity because all courses are taught in the native language. Most students who apply are proficient in Spanish, but if you are not, many universities offer an intensive course in Spanish to sharpen your skills.
What Will It Cost?
While costs to attend a semester at a top-notch university in Santiago can vary, a good estimate for tuition for a semester is about $5,000 USD. Each course costs around $1,000 for 10 credits plus there is an administrative fee of around $300 USD.
Plan on about $3,000 USD for housing, $3,000 USD for meals, $1,500 USD for transportation around Santiago and another $1,000 USD for books and miscellaneous personal expenses. When you add that all up, your all inclusive costs for six months in Chile will be somewhere around $13,500 USD.
Why Study in Chile?
An opportunity to spend a semester in a world-class university is only available to a select group of students. You will not only get a unique educational experience inside of the university, but you will learn much more about the culture and the people of Chile. You will eat new foods, explore neighborhoods and maybe even climb a mountain in the Andes. Your perspective on the world will change and your focus will broaden. It will be an experience you will remember for the rest of your life.
International students whose period of study in Chile is less than 90 days do not require a student visa. They can study in Chile on a tourist visa.
If the duration of your studies in Chile is more than 90 days, you must apply for a student visa (Visa de Estudiante).
International students who require a student visa must apply for it at the Chilean embassy/consulate in their place of residence. For an overview of Chilean embassies, visit: http://www.chileeducation.info/International-Students/List-of-Chile-Embassies-Worldwide.html
In order to apply for a Chilean student visa, you will, among other things, need to present the following at the embassy/consulate:
- Letter of acceptance from the higher education institution in Chile
- Proof of adequate funds to cover the cost of study and living
- Health insurance
Allow around 2-6 weeks for the issuing of your student visa to Chile.
The student visa is valid for a maximum of one year but can be extended. For students on a scholarship program, the student visa is valid for the duration of the scholarship.
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