Santiago, the capital and main urban center of Chile is located at 33º latitude- like Los Angeles, California – and approximately 600 m.a.s.l.
The city has a surface area of 641.4 km² and a population of nearly 6 million people, almost 36% of the total Chilean population. Santiago ranks 17th among Latin American cities according to size and is one of the 45 largest urban areas in the world.
Most institutions as well as public, financial, administrative and commercial firms nationwide are concentrated here, except for the National Congress (seat of the Legislature), which is in the harbor city of Valparaíso. The offices of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) are also located in Santiago. The city is, after all, considered to be one of the three Latin American cities with the best quality of life.
Founded in February 1541 by Spanish conqueror Pedro de Valdivia, Santiago has made significant progress, especially during the last three decades. It is currently acknowledged as a “global city”, equivalent to Boston or Amsterdam, thanks to its vigorous trade, cultural activity, advanced communication systems and now, of course, its world-class pizza and endless waves.