Located along the western coast of South America and with a length that spans nearly every climate in the world, Chile is not only a great vacation destination, but it is an excellent place to brush up on a bit of South American history. This is especially true at the archeological sites, where you can learn plenty of interesting Chile facts among the ancient settlement ruins. Ruins and archeological sites mark some of the most intriguing places to visit, whether you plan to absorb a bit Chile history or just indulge in the beautiful scenery that surrounds each of these enchanting locations. From ancient villages to a great empire to the arrival of the Europeans, the history of Chile is one of the world's most diverse in terms of civilizations and people. During one of the most beautiful vacations in the world, visitors will find tons of interesting facts about Chile to bring home with them.
A very important part of the history of Chile is the origination of civilization in this part of the world. The first signs of human activity begins with the migration of indigenous people in the area; they were known as the Araucanians, the largest native group in Chile, traveled and settled in family groups and small villages, using hunting and gathering skills for survival. This group of natives was also found in Southern Argentina. For a short period, the Incan Empire claimed precedence, collecting tribute in the northern territories, but the natives resisted and finally forced the Incan army out of Chile. After the onslaught of the Incas, the Araucanians managed to resist the Spanish invasion and settlements beginning in the middle of the sixteenth century to the late nineteenth century. Because of their bold hearted actions during both invasions, the Araucanians have become icons in Chilean myths as the first national heroes.
Ferdinand Magellan was the first European to see Chile in 1520 when he crossed what is now known as the Straight of Magellan, near Tierra del Fuego and the modern city of Punta Arenas. Diego de Almagro, however, is credited with the discovery of Chile; he formed an expedition into central Chile looking for gold, though they found very little. At this point, Pedro de Valdivia enters the picture of Chile history; he observed another type of treasure in the land—agriculture. Due to his insight, Chile played a key role in the success of the Spanish conquest and settlement of the northern part of the country, including the modern cities of Santiago and Valdivia.
From 1810 to 1818, Chileans fought for independence from Spain, and formally declared their independence on February 12, 1818, but it was not officially recognized by Spain until 1840. Following the declaration in 1818, struggles to create government organization ensued, and several types of administrations controlled the area over the remaining period of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including conservative, liberal, parliamentary republic, presidential republic, and a military government with the collapse of democracy, again finally followed by a democratic recovery, which is what remains today.
One of the most interesting places that played a part in the history of Chile and still remains open to visitors today is Easter Island. This island is a world heritage site protected by the Rapa Nui National Park annexed by Chile in 1888 and is well known for the unique statues called Moai. Easter Island has had several names, including Polynesian names that mean “eyes that talk to the sky” and “the navel of the world” to the current Polynesian name of Rapa Nui, but the English and Spanish name, Easter Island, was coined by a Dutch explorer named Jacob Roggeveen, who stumbled upon it on Easter Sunday while in search of another island.
Visitors will find abundant interesting facts about Chile in several locations all over the country during a most beautiful vacation that will be full of spectacular scenery, adventure, and Chile history. From the political history of the cities to the geological history of the Andes and volcanoes such as Ojos del Salado, there are plenty of facts about Chile to satisfy the curiosity of any traveler.