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World Poker - Chile

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The Republic of Chile was inhabited around 10,000 years ago, when migrating Native Americans settled in the coastal valleys. For a brief time, the Incas expanded their empire into the northern area of Chile, but relocated after they found the barren land to be uninhabitable.

The Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, discovered what, is now, the Straight of Magellan in 1520, when he was attempting to circle the globe. Following Magellan were the Spanish conquistadors seeking gold, then the conquest of the country by Spain. As with most Latin American countries, Chile suffered through centuries of war, unrest and foreign occupation to emerge as what it is today, a land rich in history and steeped in culture.

The Republic of Chile’s 292,183 square miles sits along a long and narrow coastal strip that lies between the western side of the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The country's entire western border is Atlantic coastline, providing spectacular locations for homes and beach resorts. Chile encompasses a remarkable variety of landscapes as it stretches over 2,880 miles, even though it is only 265 miles at its widest point. Although the land area of Chile may appear small, it is in fact the 38th largest country in the world, and the largest in size from north to south.

Chile’s neighbors are: Peru to the north, Argentina to the east, Bolivia to the northeast, and the Drake Passage at the southern tip. An unusual geographical fact is, Chile also claims 482,628 square miles of Antarctica as its territory.

Today, Chile is a democratic country comprised of 15 regions, with each region being divided into provinces. Regions are headed by an intendant and provinces are ruled by a governor, all appointed by the President, who is currently a woman, Michelle Bachelet Jeria . Within each Province are communes (towns) which are governed by elected mayors and councilmen. By law, public officials, including the President, can only serve a single four year term in office.

The regions in Chile are not only named, but numbered as well. Roman numerals are assigned to regions, beginning in the north and ending in the south. The Región Metropolitana (Metropolitan Region) in which the capitol is located is the one exception, and is not numbered. In 2006 two new regions were added to the country, Los Ríos in the south and Arica-Parinacota in the north.

Chile’s main economic stability in the past has been dependent on copper which can be found in the northern Atacama Desert. Copper exports in 2006 reached a historical high of $33.3 billion dollars, with the main destinations being the Americas, Asia and Europe.

The state-owned CODELCO is the world's largest copper-producing company, with an estimated 200 years of copper reserves.

Since the mid 1990s however, tourism has become one of Chile’s main sources of revenue. In 2005, tourism grew by more than13%, which equaled over 1.5 billion dollars. According to the National Service of Tourism, more than two million people a year visit the country.

The single most popular tourist attraction in Chile is Easter Island. The island received its name after being discovered in 1722 on Easter Sunday, and is famous for its spectacular Moai statues. The island is a world heritage site and most of the island lies within the protection of the Rapa Nui National Park. Last year, the island was nominated to be named as one of the modern wonders of the world.

Southern Chile is also a popular destination for tourists with its beautiful forests, lakes and volcanoes.
The famous Andes Mountains are another spectacular sight visitors put on their must see list, especially if they snow ski. Other tourist attractions in Chile include, San Pedro de Atacama with its Incaic architecture, the Altiplano Lakes of the Valley of the Moon and the Pomerape and Parinacota volcanoes. Towers of Paine national park is in southern Chile, which also boasts glaciers for tourists to explore.

The coast of the Valparaíso Region, with its many beautiful beach resorts, sees the the largest amount of tourists, with neighboring Viña del Mar being equally as popluar, not only for the beaches, but the casino as well.

The larger casinos in Chile are housed in all-inclusive resort style properties, offering activities for all tourists, not just gamblers. While a full range of casino style games are available, poker is taking the country by storm as well, and most casinos have a poker room, offering games of Texas Hold’em and Stud.

Chile has a total of 12 casinos, located in 10 cities. The Vina del Mar, in Vina del Mar, is the largest casino, with over 90 table games and more than 1500 of the latest gaming and slot machines. It is estimated that more than 8,000 players go to the Vina del Mar on any given night during tourist season (March-December), with many of them taking a seat in a poker game.

The other casinos located in Chile include; Casino Coquimbo in Coquimbo, Hotel del Lago resort and casino in Pucon, Casino Puerto Varas in Puerto Varas, Casino de Arica in Arica and Casino Iquique in Iquique.

While most of the casinos in Chile offer poker, there are also home games held throughout South America. Tourists are warned against participating in these private games however, as they are usually considered illegal and therefore risky.

Chile is a beautiful country filled with warm, helpful, and friendly people, making it a great vacation spot, even for tourists who don’t speak Spanish. Add in the attraction of several poker rooms, and Chile looks like an even better vacation destination for poker players.

Several new Chilean casinos may be popping up in the future, as the government has received applications for 17 new casino licenses. In 2006, the government of Chile approved the building of nine new casinos and resorts. The new casino projects totaled an investment of $325 million dollars and created over 4,000 much needed new jobs. With more casinos on the drawing board, and poker being so popular, we may see a major live tournament being held in Chile in the near future.

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