Levels of nucleotide diversity vary greatly across the genomes of most species owing to multiple factors. These include variation in the underlying mutation rates, as well as the effects of both direct and linked selection. Fundamental to interpreting the relative importance of these forces is the common observation of a strong positive correlation between nucleotide diversity and recombination rate. While indeed observed in humans, the interpretation of this pattern has been difficult in the absence of high-quality polymorphism data and recombination maps in closely related species. Here, we characterize genetic features driving nucleotide diversity in Western chimpanzees using a recently generated whole genome polymorphism data set. Our results suggest that recombination rate is the primary predictor of nucleotide variation with a strongly positive correlation. In addition, telomeric distance, regional GC-content, and regional CpG-island content are strongly negatively correlated with variation. These results are compared with humans, with both similarities and differences interpreted in the light of the estimated effective population sizes of the two species as well as their strongly differing recent demographic histories.