Welcome to Santiago, the capital and largest city of Chile as well as one of the largest cities in the Americas. Situated smack bang in the center of Chile’s most densely populated region, Santiago Metropolitan, whose total population is 7 million. Located entirely in the country’s central valley, most of the city lies between 500–650 m (1,600–2,100 ft) above sea level. Founded in 1541 by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia, Santiago is rare among South American capital cities in that it has served as the capital city since the colonial occupation.
Downtown and central Santiago is largely made-up of 19th-century neoclassical architecture and winding side-streets, but has smatterings of art-deco and neo-gothic architecture, amongst others. Like many cities in along the Western confines of the continent, Santiago is surrounded by hills as the Andes begin to build behind it. The main river in the city is the fast-flowing Mapocho River, and Santiago is known in South America for being modern, organized, and very safe, as well as a clean, prosperous city with important financial and industrial clout in South America.