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Is Chile a Safe or Dangerous Country?The security environment in Chile is generally safe, and most visitors have left Chile without an incident. Nonetheless, street crime and scams are common, especially in Santiago, Valparaiso, Antofagasta, Calama, and Iquique. Be aware of your surroundings at all times like you would in any large city. Criminals tend to work in groups and use different ruses to distract travelers.
Chile is no different than any other destination. Most of the crimes and scams against foreigners are crimes of opportunity. Bag snatching and pickpocketing are common at crowded places such as shops, restaurants, and public transportation, so make sure you carry your bag facing away from the street and preferably always close to you. Although the Las Condes, Providencia, and Vitacura in Santiago are infamous for being hot spots for petty crime, pickpocketing and muggings are common in many cities throughout Chile.Violent crime is rare in Chile but there have been reports of daylight muggings in some areas in Santiago like Cerro San Cristobal Park, Cerro Santa Lucia, and Cerro Manquehue. It is recommended to always travel in groups and avoid isolated areas and parks at night.
Transportation SafetyIf you are taking a bus or a train, do not put any valuables in the storage compartment as they can be stolen. Taxis should be booked in advance rather than hailing one from the street, especially at night. Main roads are surfaced, but if you are thinking of driving in the countryside, it is recommended to get a four-wheel drive vehicle. Vehicle theft has increased, so always keep your windows closed and doors locked. Do not leave bags or valuable items in the car in plain view.
Natural DangersChile is a country exposed to many natural disasters. Earthquakes are a possibility, and floods are common during the autumn and winter seasons. During summer, large forest fires occur throughout the country. There is volcanic activity in the Puyehue and Los Lagos region (last erupted in June 2011). Other active volcanos include Chaiten, Llaima, Lascar, and the Copahue volcano on the Argentina/Chile border. The smog in Santiago can become a health risk during winter.
Political SituationNationwide protests usually take place on the anniversary of the military coup, 11 September, and Worker’s Day, 1 May. It is highly recommended to stay away from any demonstrations as they can become violent. Police tend to use tear gas and water cannons against protesters. The largest protests generally occur in Santiago. The largest indigenous group in the Araucania region of southern Chile, the Mapuche, are engaged in a conflict over land and indigenous rights issues, so there have been some attacks targeting multinational forestry corporations and private Chilean landowners.
LandminesLandmine accidents mainly affect cattle and people crossing borders at unauthorized regions. Minefields are near the borders with Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. Most of them are clearly marked, but some signs and fences are old and/or damaged, so they may not be easy to spot. If you are traveling to these areas, check with local authorities first, do not enter restricted areas, and stick to the marked roads.
Warnings & Dangers
OVERALL RISK : LOW
Standard safety precautions are recommended in Chile. Exercise common sense and remain vigilant for suspicious behaviour as you would in any other country. Watch out for petty crime in tourist areas and protect your valuables.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
Pickpocket and purse snatching are common in tourist locations and public transportation. Bag snatching is common, so make sure you carry your bag facing away from the street and preferably always close to you.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
Muggings have happened in urban areas. People walking alone are often the targets, especially at night. In case of being robbed, do not resist and hand over your valuables.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
As in any other country, taxi drivers will try to take advantage of travelers by overcharging them. Remain vigilant for thieves that use different strategies to rob you like a tap on the shoulder, spitting or getting something spilled on you.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
Overall, taxis and public transportation are safe. Make sure you book a ride or use radio taxis from places like a hotel when possible as there have been reports of traveler being robbed and assaulted by taxi drivers. Make sure that the vehicle has the logo of the company on the side.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Flooding can happen during heavy rains. Chile has some volcanic activity. The Copahue volcano, located along the Chile/Argentina border, is still active and sometimes residents need to be evacuated. Monitor local media and follow the advice of the local authorities. Air pollution during winter (June-September) in Santiago is a major problem; you may suffer from eye irritations and respiratory problems.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Terrorist attacks are unlikely in Chile. However, they cannot be ruled out. There are occasional acts of domestic violence by anarchist groups that may use small explosives. They tend to target banks and public transport. Remain vigilant and take advice from authorities, hotels and tour operators.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
Many women travel safely without any issues. However, if you are traveling alone, it is important to exercise particular care in crowds, on public transportation, in rural areas, and in isolated sections. Avoid isolated locations and traveling alone after dark. Women may get some unwanted attention from men.