The city lies in the Santiago Basin, a flat-bottomed bowl-shaped valley that separates the Andes Mountain Range from the Chilean Coastal Range.
The mountains that surround Santiago trap smog in a thick layer over the city; however, since 1990, air quality has improved due to government intervention.
Santiago was founded in 1541 by the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia, who established a small settlement beside the Mapocho River.
Half of Chile’s population lives within 160 kilometres of Santiago, and five million people live in city itself making it the sixth largest city in South America.
Santiago is Chile’s industrial and financial centre, generating 42% of the country’s entire GDP; half of Chile’s industrial plants are based in or near the city.
In 2010, Santiago’s businesses began to build new skyscrapers in the city as a symbol of the country’s success over the global financial crisis.