Weights and Measures
Chile is four hours behind GMT most of the year, but it does observe daylight saving time (summer time), though dates for the changeover vary from year to year. When the U.S. eastern time zone is on daylight saving time, during the Northern Hemisphere summer, and Chile is on standard time, the hour is identical in New York and Santiago.
All of continental Chile goes on daylight saving time despite latitudes that range from about 18° to 56° S, and this causes some anomalies. In summer, northern cities such as Arica, where the length of day is relatively equal throughout the year, do not see daylight until almost 8 a.m.; at this time of the year, they are two hours ahead of nearby Peru. In the far south, by contrast, midsummer daylight can last until nearly 11 p.m. or later. Because Argentina does not observe daylight saving time, there is no summer time difference between the two countries.
Easter Island (Rapa Nui) is two hours behind the continent.
Throughout the country, nearly all outlets are 220 volts, 50 cycles, so converters are necessary for North American appliances such as computers, electric razors, and so on. Plugs are two rounded prongs. Electrical supply stores on Santiago’s Calle San Pablo, north of the Plaza de Armas, sell plug adapters and adequately powered converters, but it’s harder to find these outside the capital.
The metric system is official, but this doesn’t completely eliminate vernacular measures. In rural areas, people often use the legua (league) of about five kilometers as a measure of distance, and the quintal of 46 kilos is also widely used, especially in wholesale markets and statistics.
At airports, the Chilean military measures altitude in feet above sea level. Tire pressure is often measured in pounds per square inch.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition