Reasons Why Chile is the Best Country in Latin America
A thin sliver of the western coast of South America, Chile is rarely the first country to come to mind when thinking of the most enticing countries in Latin America. Mexico has its world-famous food, Brazil has samba music and the Copacabana beach, and Argentina has Maradona, but what makes Chile so special?
Well, this year, Chile has out-performed all the competition in at least one way: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC) has been crowned the best university in Latin America in the QS Latin America University Rankings 2018. Now, obviously university rankings alone aren’t going to make people more excited about Chile than a game of beach volleyball in Rio or tacos in Mexico City, but it’s a start, right?
Fortunately, there are even more amazing things about Chile than its universities. Don’t believe us? Take a look…
From skiing to sunbathing
Look at Chile on a map. Let’s face it, as countries go, it’s fairly odd-looking. A stretch of land running north-south with the sea to the west and mountains along its eastern border, it looks like no other country on Earth. This unique shape though means it’s also beautifully varied, with ski resorts and sun-kissed beaches both a short journey away from the capital city Santiago.
This brilliant mix of snow and sunshine means Chile really has something for everyone. You can even head towards the north of the country and visit the Atacama Desert, the driest place on the planet, for yet another environmental extreme!
March of the penguins
Yes, that’s right. Despite the fact it’s home to a literal desert and has an average temperature of 86°F (30°C) in January, the hottest month of the year, Chile is also home to real-life, actual penguins. Everyone’s favorite adorable fish-eaters can be found across the southern part of the country, chilling on the beaches or heading to breed. You might also spot Humboldt penguins further north, or you can get even closer to them by visiting the Humboldt Penguin Reserve, based off-shore on the islands of Chañaral, Damas and Choros.
All the wine is all for me
Of course, what’s the point in visiting a country if there isn’t anything good to drink when you get there? One more reason to love Chile is the fact it’s the world’s seventh largest producer of wine. Sure, you can also get great wine in Argentina, but Chilean wine is truly magical and dates back to 1554 when Spanish conquistadores planted the first vineyards. Since then, French immigrants to the country have brought across their knowledge, leading to a stunning range of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and chardonnay wines. If you like an easy drinking wine with plenty of flavor, Chile is the place to be.
I mean, just look at it. Seriously, look at it
Still need convincing? Just look at how jaw-droppingly beautiful Chile is. It’s amazing. Why wouldn’t you want to come here?
More history than you could shake a stick at
While other countries struggle for tourist attractions and impressive monuments, Chile is sitting pretty with six different UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and another 17 locations reportedly under consideration for future inclusion. There’s almost no way you could fit everything Chile has to offer into one visit, but if you come here to study then you’ll have plenty of time to visit the Rapa Nui National Park on Easter Island, walk the Chilean Inca Trail, marvel at the churches of Chiloé, and spend time in the historic quarter of the seaport city of Valparaíso. And that’s only scratching the surface of what Chile has to offer!
It’s worth saying again: Chile’s universities are seriously impressive
Not only are Chilean universities performing really well right now, it’s also not that expensive to study here. UC, the highest-ranked university in the country, was ranked among the top 50 in the world for nine different subjects in the QS World University Rankings by Subject. So, if you’re planning on studying architecture, theology, agriculture, law or any of the other subjects it scores highly in, you’d struggle to find anywhere better to spend your time at university than Chile.
So, what are you waiting for?
Image credits: Lead image (fahrenheit75; Flickr), Skiing (MM; Wikimedia Commons), Penguins (Liam Quinn; Wikimedia Commons), Vineyards (Fsanchezs; Wikimedia Commons)
This article was originally published in October 2017 . It was last updated in January 2022