Las Condes (derived from a traditional family name) is one of the three dozen comunas making up the Santiago District, Chile's largest urban area. Las Condes is easily the largest comuna in area, and is the third largest in population. It encompasses a great deal of the eastern side of Santiago, stretching all the way to the beginning of the Andes. Las Condes is bounded on the west by Providencia, on the north by Vitacura and Lo Barnechea, and to the south by La Reina.
Traditionally, Las Condes is the seat of Chilean finance and political power. While the seat of Chile's government is in the comuna of Santiago, the wealthy and the powerful have made their homes in Las Condes. Las Condes, especially in its western sections close to Providencia, is home to skyscrapers where large companies have their headquarters. Las Condes is also home to Escuela Militar de Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins, Chile's military academy. It would be hard to find an equivalent location in the United States: imagine a wedge of land 4 miles wide and 10 miles long that holds Wall Street, West Point, the rich suburbs of Washington, D.C. and the Mall of the Americas thrown in. But despite its reputation as a very affluent and powerful area, there are many parts of Las Condes that look similar to a standard American suburb.
Despite its symbolism in the rather complicated history of Chilean class politics, I have found Las Condes a pleasant enough place to work and visit, although this experience might be due to my privilege as a foreigner.