Chile occupies a strategic location relative to sea lanes between Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (Strait of Magellan, Beagle Channel, Drake Passage). Chile’s Atacama Desert is one of world’s driest regions. Widespread deforestation and mining threaten natural resources. Other environmental issues include air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions, and water pollution from raw sewage. The Bío Bío River is the second largest river in Chile; it was renowned as being one of world’s best whitewater rafting venues, until the state-run power company constructed the Pangue dam, despite strong protests by environmentalists. The green party of Chile is known as Ecologistas Verdes.

The Douglas Tompkins Foundation for Deep Ecology Conservation Land Trust in Chile is one of the most ambitious and controversial privately supported conservation initiatives in the world, including Parque Pumalin, Parque Nacional Corcovado, and the Cañi Sanctuary. (See Wikipedia List of national parks of Chile.) North of La Serena in the Coquimbo region is the Humboldt national penguin reserve (Pingüino de Humboldt National Reserve). In 2005 Chile prohibited keeping cetaceans captive, including dolphinariums. The Centre For Marine Mammals Research Leviathan is concerned with the development of whale watching in Chile. NaturaCert is a Chilean member of the Sustainable Tourism Certification Network of the Americas.

Biosphere reserves:

  • Fray Jorge 1977
  • Juan Fernández 1977
  • Torres del Paine 1978
  • Laguna San Rafael 1979
  • Lauca 1981
  • Araucarias 1983
  • La Campana-Peñuelas 1984

IUCN members:


A three-year-old Marxist government was overthrown in 1973 by a dictatorial military regime led by Augusto PINOCHET, who ruled until a freely elected president was installed in 1990; more than 3,000 people were killed or went missing during military rule in Chile (resulting from U.S. backed Operation Condor). Sound economic policies, maintained consistently since the 1980s, have contributed to steady growth and have helped secure the country’s commitment to democratic and representative government. Chile has increasingly assumed regional and international leadership roles befitting its status as a stable, democratic nation.

In 1999, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) general assembly held in the Chilean capital Santiago officially adopted it’s Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. The Mapuche are a group of indigenous inhabitants of south-central Chile; Ñuke Mapu – Centro de Documentación Mapuche (Mapuche Documentation Center) includes information on indigenous tourism issues. Qhapaq Ñan (aka Ruta Inka) refers to the Inca road system stretching along the Andes into Chile, in preparation for World Heritage. Monte Verde is an archaeological site in southern Chile, located near Puerto Montt, which has been dated to 14,800 years BP (Before Present). The 2nd national conference on community tourism (Segundo Encuentro Nacional de Turismo Comunitario) was held in San Pedro de Atacama, November 2012. Located in the Coquimbo region, north of the capital Santiago, Hacienda los Andes is a prominent example of a colonial outdoor lodge, featuring horse riding. Hostelling Internacional Chile is a good point of contact for affordable accommodations nationwide.

World Heritage:

  • Rapa Nui National Park (1995)
  • Churches of Chiloé (2000)
  • Historic Quarter of the Seaport City of Valparaíso (2003)

ICCROM members:


  • Assessment of wildlife use for ecotourism in the Rio Cruces wetlands, Ramsar site of Chile by A Muñoz-Pedreros & J Quintana, 2010
  • Community Action of Tourism and Sustainability in Tralcao, Marikina (Chile) by E Oyarzún, C Henríquez, V Lyon & CA Cioce-Sampaio, 2009
  • Marine reserve in Chile would benefit penguins and ecotourism by E Skewgar, A Simeone & P Dee Boersma, 2009
  • Conservation and community-based development through ecotourism in the temperate rainforest of southern Chile by M McAlpin, 2008
  • Marketing Ecotourism: A Focus on Chile by T Knowles & C Felzensztein, 2004
  • The Mapu Lahual Network of Community Parks (RML): Community-led Ecotourism Development in the Coastal Mountains of Southern Chile by MC McAlpin, 2003
  • The agony and the ecotourism in Chile by Katherine Ellison, 1999

Chile Data