Santiago de Chile is a meeting of worlds. One of South America’s most developed cities, Santiago is a regional economic powerhouse bolstered by a colourful history that has resulted in a city where old meets new in the architecture, culture and geography of this Chilean metropolis. Founded in 1541 by Spanish conqueror Pedro de Valdivia, Santiago has been Chile’s capital since the colonial era, and is now home to 4.6m people, with a total of 7m people living in the greater metropolitan area. Situated in the Santiago Basin in Chile’s central valley, the city is ringed by several imposing mountain ranges which dominate the horizon. Among them is the Andes, which is as far away from one side of Santiago as the Pacific Ocean is from the other. Santiago’s location on the grippingly titled Pacific Ring of Fire puts it on the frontline of significant tectonic activity, making the city prone to earthquakes.
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