Chile - Transportation
In 2002, Chile had 6,702 km (4,164 mi) of railways, the fourth largest in Latin America. Rail lines in the desert area are used mainly for mineral transport. By 1988, cargo transportation by rail had reached nearly 6 million tons annually. There are five international railroads from Chile: a line to Tacna, Peru; two to La Paz, Bolivia; and two to Argentina. In 1975, the first section of a new subway was opened in Santiago; the second section was opened in 1980.
There were 79,800 km (49,588 mi) of roads in 2002, 11,012 km (6,843 mi) of which were paved. The Pan American Highway, extending 3,460 km (2,150 mi) from the Peruvian border to Puerto Montt, is Chile's principal road artery. In 2000 there were about 1,214,698 passenger cars and 816,586 commercial trucks, buses, and taxis. The Carretera Austral Presidente Augusto Pinochet, a highway, is under construction in the south; when complete it will link Cochrane in Coyhaique with Puerto Montt.
Chile has some 20 ports, 10 of which are used principally for coastal shipping. Valparaíso, the principal port for Santiago, is by far the most important. Arica, Iquique, Tocopilla, Antofagasta, Coquimbo, San Antonio, Talcahuano, and Punta Arenas are other important ports. In 1998, the Chilean merchant marine had 47 vessels over 1,000 tons and a total GRT of 669,670.
Air transportation has become increasingly important. As of 2001 there were 363 airports in Chile, 71 of which had paved runways. Santiago hosts the principal international airport, Arturo Merino. Chile's largest airline is the state-owned National Airlines of Chile (LAN-Chile), which provides both domestic and international service. LAN-Chile's only significant domestic competitor is Copper Airlines (LADECO), a privately owned company In 2001, airlines carried 5,300,700 passengers on domestic and international flights.