Santiago, with over four million people, is the fifth-largest city in South America. Standing in a wide plain 1,800 feet above sea level, Santiago boasts a beautiful setting. Snow-capped peaks of the Andes chain provide a dramatic backdrop. Tastefully laid-out public gardens contribute to the beauty of the city. However, Santiago also suffers from horrendous traffic and a high percentage of pollution. The heart of Santiago is the Plaza de Armas, flanked by the cathedral, the archbishop’s palace, the National History Museum and fine arcaded buildings lined with shops. The two-mile-long Avenida O’Higgins is the major thoroughfare, commonly known as the Alameda. There is a splendid view over the city from San Cristobal Hill, crowned by the statue of the Virgin Mary.