On a clear day, fresh after winter showers, Santiago basks in one of the most spectacular settings of any city in the world. A glance through the downtown blocks reveals a mighty circle of mountains - the snowcapped Andean peaks to the east, and a smaller coastal range to the west - that frames the Chilean capital.
Compared to other cities in Latin America, Santiago feels distinctly European. Its stately, dignified boulevards and neoclassical architecture, swanky high-rise suburbs, efficient metro system and, above all, general state of orderliness reflect a culture that is hard-working, prosperous and business-minded. Santiaguinos tend to be polite, conservatively well dressed and somewhat restrained, despite their predilection for staying up late.