AT THE EDGE OF THE EARTH
Its name is short but its geography is endless. Chile holds a kind of world record, stretching over nearly 40 degrees of latitude, from its desert frontier with Peru to the cluster of islands, canals and icefields that crown the southern tip of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego. This is not a country to be seen in a single trip, especially if the itinerary also includes more remote wonders like Easter Island or the Antarctic. This 4,200 kilometer (2,600 mile) strip of land offers an astonishing variety of scenery. To the north, the Atacama Desert is as sere and silent as the moon: barren rocky expanses in shades of ochre that shimmer in the suffocating heat, saltwater lagoons aflutter with pink and white flamingos, and the ghostly mist of geysers drifting through the cool dawn air. The Andes Mountains that mark the country’s eastern border are so fundamental to the national identity they are symbolized by the white on the Chilean flag.