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Safety in Chile

Although most visits to this Chile are trouble-free, you should still be aware of potential risks.



Chile lies on one of the most active earthquake regions in the world. While visiting, it is more than likely you will experience at least one small tremor (temblor), or even a minor earthquake (terremotos). Major earthquakes, however, only occur every 10 or 20 years. The smaller scale activity usually causes no damage, and almost all modern buildings in Chile have been built with reinforced steel to meet earthquake-resistance requirements. If you do happen to be in Chile when an earthquake strikes, remain calm and stay indoors. Move to the strongest, most reinforced area of the room, usually a door frame or bathroom and stay clear from windows and cabinets. Note: Since 2007 there has been recurring seismic activity in Aysén, in the far south of Chile. If you plan to visit this area, keep an eye on the press for government warnings and check the website (in Spanish) for more information.



Aside from earthquakes, visitors to Chile ought to be aware of the presence of minefields at the border territories of Tarapacá and Antofagasta, in the north, bordering Peru and Bolivia, as well as in Magallanes and the Chilean Antarctic. Remember that border crossing should be made only at authorized locations, and although most minefields are marked, signs may have shifted, become obstructed or been vandalized. These border areas are still considered somewhat dangerous, and it is recommended to check with local authorities before traveling here.



If you intend on being in Chile on March 27th you should be aware that this is the Day of the Combatant, and is consequently celebrated as such. Most action is seen in urban areas such as Santiago, Conception, Temuco and Antofagasta where in recent years there have been numberous energized demonstrations including reports of violence clashes between police and protesters.



When it comes to personal safety, Chile is relatively good destination. Crime rates are low, although Santiago, ValparaĂ­so, and other major cities can be dangerous at night. It is recommended to remain particularly alert to crime at the Plaza de Armas, Mercado Central, and areas of Las Condes, Vitacura, Providencia, Suecia, and Bellavista in Santiago and at the port and adjoining tourist areas in Valaparaiso. Public transport including, taxis, the Metro, and the bus terminals, are also hotspots for scams and petty theft.


When traveling in large cities it is recommended to take the same precautions as you would take in cities back home. While there have been few violent crimes against foreigners, they are far more susceptible to pick-pocketing and personal item theft. Look out especially for cameras, purses, backpacks. As long as you take common sense precautions, keeping track of your belongings, traveling without expensive jewelry or other flashy items, and not drawing lots of attention, you should be free from problems. If, however, an unfortunate incident of theft does occur, be sure to report it to the local police and your nearest embassy or consulate. Note, however, that while overseas ultimate resolution falls under Chilean jurisdiction. You can find out more about the Chilean legal system at


For emergency help in Chile, dial the following:


Ambulance (samu) — 131

Fire Department (bomberos)—132

Police Department (policía, or carabineros)—133


Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Chile: Safety, Regional Summaries, Culture: Intro, When to Go to Punta Arenas, Chile Phones, Augusto Pinochet, Safety, Chile Internet access, WiFi and Internet cafes, Safety: Vicuña and History.

06 Jul 2009

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