General info of Chile


To begin with...

Chile is a country in South America placed in a long and narrow coastal strip wedged between the Andes mountain and the Pacific Ocean. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east and the Drake Passage and Antarctica at the country's southernmost tip. With a coastline that stretches over 6,435 kilometres, Chilean territory extends to the Pacific Ocean which includes the overseas territories of Juan Fernández Islands (including Robinson Crusoe island) and the Easter Island located in Polynesia, among others. Chile's unusual ribbon-like shape — 4,300 kilometres long and on average 175 kilometres wide — has given it a varied climates, ranging from the driest desert of the world —Atacama Desert— to the north, through a Mediterranean climate in the center, to a snow-prone Alpine climate in the south -Torres del Paine-, with glaciers, lakes and the Tierra del Fuego or Land of Fire. The relatively small central area dominates the country in terms of population and agricultural resources. This area also is the cultural and political center from which Chile expanded in the late 19th century, when it incorporated its northern and southern regions. The northern Chilean desert contains great mineral wealth, principally copper and the southern Chile is rich in forests and grazing lands and features a string of volcanoes and lakes. The southern coast is a labyrinth of fjords, inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, and islands.

Chile is part of the Southern Cone of South America along with Argentina and Uruguay. High life expectancy, the highest Human Development Index of Latin America, high standard of living, significant participation in the global markets and the emerging economy of its members make the Southern Cone the most prosperous macro-region in Latin America.

Why choose Chile in the Latin American context?

Currently, Chile is one of the Latin American's most stable, prosperous and secure nations. Within the greater Latin American context it leads in terms of human development, gross domestic product per capita (at market prices and purchasing power parity), competitiveness, quality of life, political stability, globalization, economic freedom, low perception of corruption and comparatively low poverty rates and one of the highest security level, mesured by the Global Peace Index (GPI). It also ranks high regionally in freedom of the press and democratic development. Chile is the only South American country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Chile along with Uruguay are the only Latin American countries considered as high-income economies (but yet developing countries). Finally, Chile is the only Latin American country included in the Visa Waiver Program of the United States, so Chilean do not need a VISA to get in that country.

That's why too many exchange student choose Chile for a professional/research exchange, do a lot of tourism to the north/central/south of the country and some of them (and once they fit in the Latin American lifestyle) use Chile as a platform to visit many touristic hotspots in South America such like Argentina (Buenos Aires), Perú (Machu Pichu), Brasil (Rio de Janeiro), Bolivia (Salar de Uyuni) etc...,

Our health care system

The health care system in Chile is divided in two. In one hand you have the private service manage by the ISAPRES and public Service manage by FONASA (National Health Fund). More than 70% of the population is affiliated to the Public System. In the past years the Goverment has worked really hard in increasing the coverage of the Publich Health System which turn out in the creation of the called GES (Explicit Health Guarantees). The GES system is based in the the assurement of the diagnosis and treatment of the high morbility/mortality disease ranking from Hypertension to several kind of cancers. This means if a person is affected with one of this common diseases the treatment and the follow up are for free. Right now the goverment is working in increasing the number of diseases that are include in the new System. Even if you have ISAPRE you get the coverage for the GES. In Chile is mandatory to be part of a Health System, either public or private. If you have a salary is mandatory to pay the 7% of it, if you are affiliated to the private one you can pay the 7% for the basic plan coverage or more if you want to get more insurance. Homeless people are on FONASA and they get health attention for free. The patients of the public system suposed to be attend first in the "Consultorios" if is an emergency the can get attention in the "SAPU" and then they are sent to the Hospital where they can get a more specific treatment.


Our medical education

After finishing high school, all Chilean students who want to continue studing in a University have to take a national test which is called PSU (University Selection test). And considering you score in the PSU and ones grades in the high school you may apply to each University in Chile (publich or private). We have a lot of faculties where you may study Medicine in the country. They are 31 in total in 14 cities and all those city are available for incomings. In Chile we have Public and Private Universities in both you have to pay but the prices are differents; in a public one you pay around 3.500-6.000 Eur per year meanwhile in a private one you pay over 7.000 Eur per year. There are just a few students who have full scholarships and most of them ask for loans to the goverment or private banks. Medicine is the longest career to study in the country, it takes 5 years to get your Medical Degree and 2 more of internship to be a physician. Of the 5 year of medical degree, the first 2 years are most theorical and since the 3rd year you start to go everyday to the Hospital. Most in the mornings and in the afternoon we still have theorical classes. This goes on until the 5th year. In the 2nd-3rd year you study Semiology. Then the 4th and 5th year we have internal medicine, surgery, gynaeocolgy, pedriatrics, ophtalmology, dermatology, OTN medicine, legal medicine, etc. The last 2 years, 6th and 7th, you work as an intern which include night shifts. In this last 2 years you has to pass in the differents Departments of the Hospital but the ones that take longer are Internal Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics&Gynaeocology and Pediatrics. By the end of 7th year you have to take the National Medical test of knoweldge in Medicine to practice as a Doctor, when you do that, then you have different choices; you cmay work as a General Practioner, work in rural areas and gain points to get your residency paid by the Ministry of Health, or go with your grades, National Medical Exam scores, published work to a National Ranking Competion and choice the residency you can sign acording to your ranking.

2015 QS Ranking of Latin American Universities

14 Chilean Universities in the TOP 100

  • #03: Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (Santiago de Chile)
  • #04: Universidad de Chile (Santiago de Chile)
  • #16: Universidad de Santiago de Chile (Santiago de Chile)
  • #17: Universidad de Concepción (Concepción)
  • #29: Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (Valparaíso)
  • #39: Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez
  • #43: Universidad Austral de Chile (Osorno & Valdivia)
  • #44: Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María
  • #53: Universidad Diego Portales (Santiago de Chile)
  • #72: Universidad de Talca (Talca)
  • #85: Universidad de los Andes (Santiago de Chile)
  • #86: Universidad de Valparaíso (Valparaíso)
  • #90: Universidad de La Frontera (Temuco)
  • #93: Universidad Andrés Bello (Santiago de Chile, Valparaíso &           Concepción)

And 30 in the top 300 Universities in Latin America, which has place it as the country with the highest "Top Universities per millions inhabitans ratio" in Latin America.

  • #01 : Chile(30): 1.65
  • #02 : Uruguay(4): 1.15
  • #03 : Colombia(41): 0.85
  • #04 : Argentina(36) : 0.83
  • #05 : Peru(16): 0.51
  • #06 : Ecuador(7): 0.43
  • #07 : Mexico(47): 0.39
  • #08 : Brazil(79): 0.38
  • #09 : Bolivia(4): 0.37
  • #10 : Venezuela(7): 0.23

Latin American countries by population

  • #01 : Brazil (205,304,000)
  • #02 : Mexico (121,641,000)
  • #03 : Colombia (48,501,000)
  • #04 : Argentina (43,362,000)
  • #05 : Peru (31,322,000)
  • #06 : Venezuela (30,825,000)
  • #07 : Chile (18,099,000)
  • #08 : Ecuador (16,404,000)
  • #09 : Bolivia (10,905,000)
  • #10: Uruguay (3,474,000)

Local transportation

Transport service varies depending on the size of the city. The bigger cities in Chile are Santiago de Chile, Concepción and Valparaíso, so they are the only once who have a Metro system. All cities have buses for local transportation.

Santiago de Chile sets apart from the rest of the country in the means of payment, in this city is mandatory to have a card to use either Metro or Buses, which has to be charged every once in a while with money. In the rest of the city, you have to pay with cash the bus fare and with a similar card the Metro (Concepción and Valparaíso).

National transportation (between cities)

by Bus

It is widely spread in the country the usage of buses to move between cities. Generally speaking we may say they are safe, fast and confortable. Here we drop a few bus lines operating in Chile, where you can check the prices and frecuencies (1 USD = 500 CLP).


by Plane

About how you get in the country? By plain would be the typical option. Almost all the internacional flight arrive to Santiago Airport (SCL) and then make a connection with another flight directly to your final destination (unless you have been placed in Santiago de Chile). If you are placed in San Felipe, Valparaíso or Talca, first you have to get in Santiago de Chile and after take a bus to your final destination.

  • Arica: Chacalluta International Airport (ARI)
  • Antofagasta: Cerro Moreno International Airport (ANF)
  • La Serena: La Florida Airport (LSC)
  • Santiago de Chile: Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (SCL)
  • Concepción: Carriel Sur International Airport (CCP)
  • Temuco: Maquehue Airport (ZCO)
  • Valdivia: Pichoy Airport (ZAL)
  • Osorno: Cañal Bajo Airport (ZOS)
  • Puerto Montt: El Tepual Airport (PMC)
  • Coyhaique: Balmaceda airport (BBA)
  • Punta Arenas: Presidente Carlos Ibanez del Campo International Airport (PUQ)

Here in Chile we have some airlines for domestic flights, they are really convenient at the time of looking for a good price:


Air lines operating in Santiago de Chile: Air Canada, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Aeroméxico, LACSA, Copa Airlines, Aerolíneas Argentinas, Austral Líneas Aereas, TAM Linhas Aéreas, Avianca, TACA, Iberia LAE, Air France, Qantas Airlines. Soon: BQB Líneas Aereas, Alitalia, Turkish Airlines and British Airways.

Regular direct flights from/to:

  • Argentina (Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Mendoza, Rio Gallegos and Ushuaia)
  • Australia (Sydney)
  • Bolivia (La Paz and Santa Cruz, via IQQ)
  • Brazil (Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo)
  • Canada (Toronto)
  • Colombia (Bogota)
  • Costa Rica (San Jose)
  • Dominican Republic (Punta Cana)
  • Ecuador (Guayaquil and Quito)
  • Falkland islands/Islas Malvinas (Port Stanley/Puerto Argentino, via PUQ & RGL)
  • France (Paris)
  • Germany (Frankfurt, via MAD)
  • Italy (Rome, via GRU & Milan)
  • Mexico (Cancun and Mexico city)
  • New Zealand (Auckland)
  • Panama (Panama city)
  • Paraguay (Asuncion)
  • Peru (Lima)
  • Spain (Madrid)
  • Tahiti (Papeete, via IPC)
  • The Netherlands (Amsterdam, via EZE)
  • United States (Atlanta, Dallas/Ft.Worth, Houston, Los Ángeles, Miami and New york)
  • Uruguay (Montevideo)
  • Venezuela (Caracas)

Also there are flights to Eastern Islands which is considered as a Internacional destination because even if it is Chilean territory it is really far away.


Chile is a long country so the weather varies a lot from north to south but no matter how hard you try, you'll never find any tropical weather. Remember Chile is in the south hemisphere so we have the opposite seasons if you come from any country over the Ecuador. This mean if you're from Europe and you come here in July, it will be the middle of the winter and if you come in January, we're in the middle of summer (October - Spring and April - Fall). In Chile you can tell the change of every season. The summers are really hot and dry and winter is cold and it rains a lot. This might vary from north to south. In northern Regions the weather is milder and it doesn't get that cold and it doesn't rain that much during our winter months, specially in Antofagasta where never rains and there is a lot of sun. Although it gets quite cold specially during the nights. If you plan to travel to Atacama Desert which is up north is really cold during nights reaching temperature below 0°C even in summer. In the center of the country, from La Serena to Puerto Montt, the weather is according to each season, in summer is really hot and dry with temperatures over 30°C and at night around 15-20°C. In winter instead is cold and rainy. In the mornings the temperature could be below 0° and during the day is rare to be over 15°C (the mean tempeture is higher in La Serena and lower in Puerto Montt). It raind a lot, but you can have some sun also. Remember if you plan to do your exchange in Santiago de Chile, even if it is really close to the mountains (ans ski centers) is really weird to snow, it does every 5 year or more. In the extreme south of Chile, like Punta Arenas, the summer is cold and windy spring and fall rains a lot and winter it snow almost all the time.

Cultural differences

Chilean identity is something to be discovered and experienced by visitors. You will no doubt observe distinct differences between the hurried residents of the big cities and the inhabitants of the valleys, coasts and mountains, where the pace of life is calmer and time seems to pass more slowly. Generally speaking, the people of Chile are friendly, open to foreign visitors (despite the fact that only 10% of them speak English with relative fluency), and have a strong sense of identity linked to rural Chile.

Chileans speak Spanish rapidly, often dropping the last letters of words including the plural-denoting "s". The vernacular includes a series of slang terms and invented words that is always evolving and reveals a healthy dose of humor and mischief. Visitors may feel a bit lost at first, but the locals are more than happy to explain the nuances of the Chilean idioms.

Accommodation & Boarding

The accommodation and boarding for exchange students are at Host Families. This will increase your cultural experience as a exchangee because it gives you the opportunity to realized how the Chileans actually live. Normally you will have your own bedroom or probably you might share it with another exchange student or someone of your Host family. At least 1 meal per day will be provided. Sometimes students don't study where they actually are from so they rent an apartment. In this case you might live just with one student or probably with other ones. The normal chilean family is with 4-5 members but also you will find families with more. We always try to place the incomings students near where they will attend their clerkships but sometimes is not possible.

Note: Contrariwise to other countries who work with students' hostels/residences as a acommodation to the incoming students, to find a host family to each exchange student requires a really hard and coordinate work of the National Exchange Team so you have to be aware that the details about your host family will be only provide once we recieve the Card of Confirmation and it could be given with a significant delay (even 1 week before your arrival). But don't worry, we never fail.

Social program!

The Social Program is a serie of activities organized by IFMSA-Chile member to the incomings students (professional and research) of a particular month that aims in let them know more about Chile and the particular region of the city of destination but it also gives them a good chance to know each other (between exchangees). This should be an important point to be considered when the to choose a country as a destination, because you won't be alone and on your own, you will be with a lot of other foreign students trying to fit in the local people and with company this process is easier.

Social Program is divided by city but also by zones. All cities within a zone are bound in some activities. Here you may have the Social Program of each city corresponding to the month of July 2014.




Extreme South

  • Punta Arenas

Beside all the educational experience you will have in your clerkship you will enjoy all the magic of our country, because Chile is All Ways Surprising!!

Social life

Chile offers a great social life!! If you come during our winter or summer months, the social program is fully arranged. We like that all the students meet each others at the beginning of their month abroad. Usually there is an international dinner party, which all the incomings students prepare the typical dish from their country and also they bring the typical drink. We like to arrange ski trips during the winter, so everyone can enjoy the breathtaking landscapes of the Andes. In chile is common to go out at night usually on Fridays and Saturdays. The parties start later than in most countries, around 12:00-1:00 the people start going out and usually they last until 5:00. We like to take the incomings out, so they experience the Chilean nightlife. We'll be expecting you and prepapre yourself to be full of energy to enjoy our country and its people.

Skiing in the Andes

During the winter season, between the months of June and September, there are many option of practicing ski in Chile. There are 18 Ski Centers distributed between the Central Valley (Santiago de Chile) and southern Chile (Punta Arenas). The slopes of the Andes Mountains offer variety: quality hotels, a diversity of quality ski runs, equipment rental facilities, good restaurants, and warm cafeterias. Within what is available, there are very sophisticated winter centers that offer helicopter flights to land on mountaintops so experienced skiers can descend through virgin snow. Other centers offer snowmobile rides and open air hot springs under the falling snow.

Traditional skiers and snowboarders occupy an important position in the winter activities offered. Currently almost all centers have slopes that are exclusively snowboard use, with modern snow parks where DJs play music live to a backdrop of beautiful views of faraway valleys.

Even without skis or poles, the white-capped mountains under the sun is a reason enough to visit. And every summer, mountain centers are opened for horseback riding, trekking, spelunking expeditions, or biking.

[Map of Ski Centers in Chile]

Close to San Felipe, Valparaíso and Santiago de Chile

Close to Talca and Concepción

Close to Temuco

Close to Valdivia, Osorno and Puerto Montt

Close to Punta Arenas

Tourist destinations in northern Chile

Tourist destinations in central Chile

Tourist destinations in southern Chile

Exchange Conditions

Exchange Conditions for Professional Exchange (SCOPE)

Exchange Conditions for Research Exchange (SCORE)

Departments available for Professional Exchange (SCOPE)

You may check them in our Professional Exchange Conditions webpage but we would like to clarify that we do not offer Tropical Medicine, because we do not have Tropical diseases because Chile is not a Tropical country!

Projects for Research Exchange (SCORE)

Link IFMSA Research Exchange Projects database in IFMSA-Chile]

Chilean slangs

  • Al lote = careless, untidy; too casual
  • Al tiro = Right away; immediately
  • Atinar = To react in the correct manner to a sitation. Suitable, appropriate.
  • Barsa = A guy who tries to take advantage of situations
  • Cachar (cachai?) = to understand (you get it?)
  • Cacho = a problem; a dificult person or situation
  • Caleta = A lot
  • Carabineros = Police
  • Carrete/carretear = party/to party
  • Chalas = sandals
  • Chato = fed up
  • Chela = beer
  • Chueco = crooked; not straight; dishonest
  • Copete = Alcoholic drink (usually piscola or beer)
  • Copucha = a piece of gossip
  • Cuico = rich snob
  • De repente = Sometimes
  • Embarrarla = Screw it up
  • Engrupir = to smooth talk
  • Filo = Nevermind
  • Flaite = Refers to people of lower classes, sometimes derogatory
  • Fome = Boring, lame
  • Guagua = Baby
  • Guata = belly, stomach
  • Harto = A lot
  • Jote/Jotear = Guy constantly trying to hit on girls/to hit on a girl
  • Lata/dar lata = Boring; Not wanting to do something
  • Lanza = a thief that snatches someones purse, necklace or cellphone from its owner
  • Luca = one thousand pesos CLP$1000
  • Meter la pata = to put your foot in your mouth; to stuff something up
  • Mula = fake; false
  • Onda = "Deal", "story"
  • Paco = carabinero (policemen)
  • Pagar el pato = to pay the consequences
  • Palta = Avocado
  • Pega = Work
  • Pelar = To gossip
  • Penca = Sucky
  • Pendejo = Child
  • Pilucho = naked
  • Piscola = pisco with coke
  • Plata = money
  • Po' = From "pues". Chileans tack this on to the end of almost every sentence. Sometimes it's reduced to just p' so, "sí" can be "sip"
  • Pololo/Polola = boyfriend/girlfriend
  • Poto = bum
  • Pucho = a cigarrette
  • Sapo = a noisy person
  • Taco = traffic jam
  • Tener mala pata = to be unlucky; to have bad luck
  • Trago = to drink
  • Tranqui = calm (down); don't worry
  • Weón = Familiar term among friends (very informal/vulgar); can also be used with a negative connotation (sort of like "idiot")

Satellite image of Chile

Atacama desert

Atacama salt flat

El tatio geyser

Nevados Ojos del Salvado, the highest volcano in the world at 6,893 m (22,615 ft)

Chungará Lake and Llamas in the Andean Plateau (Altiplano), 4,517 metres over the sea

Hand of the desert

Cabuncho beach

La Portada

Antofagasta at night