Natural regions of Chile

Natural regions of Chile

Because Chile extends from a point about 625 kilometers north of the Tropic of Capricorn to a point hardly more than 1,400 kilometers north of the Antarctic Circle, within its territory can be found a broad selection of the Earth's climates. In 1950, CORFO defined six natural regions in continental Chile: Norte Grande, Norte Chico, Núcleo Central, Concepción y La Frontera, Los Lagos and Los Canales. Although this territorial division was never used as administrative entities, as the current Regions of Chile, the natural regions continue to be used as reference.

These natural regions are (ordered from north to south and reduced to five natural regions):[1]

Natural Regions Regions of Chile Characteristics
Norte Grande (Far North) Arica-Parinacota Region Desert climate, coastal cliffs, high coast range, intermediate depression and Andes.

Plateaus in the Andes. Salt flats, copper and saltpeter deposits in the interior.

Tarapacá Region
Antofagasta Region
North Atacama Region
Copiapó River (27° S)
Norte Chico (Near North) South Atacama Region Semi-arid climate. Coast range and Andes merge, tranversal east-west valleys

instead of intermediate depression. No volcanism.

Coquimbo Region
North Valparaíso Region
Aconcagua River (33° S)
Zona Central (Central Chile) South Valparaíso Region Mediterranean climate and Matorral vegetation. Coast range

and Andes separates to the south, fertile intermediate depression.

Santiago Metropolitan Region
O'Higgins Region
Maule Region
North Bío-Bío Region
Bío-Bío River (37° S)
Zona Sur (Southern Zone) South Bío-Bío Region Temperate oceanic climate and Valdivian vegetation. Coast range and Andes are low,

intermediate depression near sea level. Glacial lakes, intensive volcanic and geothermal activity.

Araucanía Region
Los Ríos Region
North Los Lagos Region
Chacao Channel (42° S)
Zona Austral (Austral Zone) South Los Lagos Region Subpolar oceanic climate and Magellanic vegetation. Glacial landscape; Coast range consists of islands, intermediate depression under sea level. Fjords and ice fields in the Andes.
Aisén Region
Magallanes Region

Each has its own characteristic vegetation, fauna, climate, and, despite the omnipresence of both the Andes and the Pacific, its own distinct topography.


Norte Grande

Most of the region is covered by the Atacama Desert and has a dry arid climate. The coast range has peaks over 2000 m and ends in cliffs in the coast. There are large salt flats in the Intermediate depression and the Andes. Norte Grande has Chile's highest mountains including Ojos del Salado (6,891 m) but host also the Altiplano and puna high plateaus.

Norte Chico

The region has semi-arid climate, characterized by the transition from the Atacama Desert to the Mediterranean Matorral vegetation. The coast range and the Andes merges in this zone leaving no space for the Intermediate depression which is "replaced" by several tranversal (east-west) valleys. The lack of an intermediate depression and absence of volcanic activity are believed to be the result of a the flat-slab subduction of the Juan Fernández Ridge.

Zona Central

Mediterranean climate, vegetation of the Chilean Matorral. The Intermediate Depression of central Chile extends from Santiago to the south as a fertile region and is considered the agricultural heartland of Chile. After the Destruction of Seven Cities (1598–1604), all major settlements within the colonial Captaincy General of Chile came to be confined in central Chile, excepting only La Serena and the Chiloé Archipelago.

Zona Sur

Temperate oceanic climate, vegetation of Valdivian temperate rain forests. The coast range is lower than further north with no peak over 1,500 m. The Intermediate depression is close to sea level. There are features from the last glacial maximum in the Andes and the Intermediate depression such as moraines and glacial lakes. Intensive volcanism in the Andes in form of volcanoes and hot springs.

Zona Austral

Covers all of Chilean Patagonia, and the Chiloé Archipelago. Zona austral has an subpolar oceanic climate and a vegetation of Magellanic subpolar forests in the west and Patagonian grasslands in the east. The former Patagonian Ice Sheet have eroded the coast range so that it now of islands and is not present south of Taitao Peninsula. The Intermediate depression is under the sea level. Fjords penetrates the Andes where thera are also two ice sheets and several glacial lakes.

See also


  1. ^ Note that the correspondence between regions is approximate in general.

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