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Chile, See : Flags, Maps

The Gold Diggings of Cape Horn , John R. Spears

Journeys and Experiences in Argentina, Paraguay, and Chile, by Henry Stephens

Chile (South America)

Introduction ::Chile


Prior to the coming of the Spanish in the 16th century, northern Chile was under Inca rule while the indigenous Mapuche inhabited central and southern Chile. Although Chile declared its independence in 1810, decisive victory over the Spanish was not achieved until 1818. In the War of the Pacific (1879-83), Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia and won its present northern regions. It was not until the 1880s that the Mapuche Indians were completely subjugated. After a series of elected governments, a three-year-old Marxist government of Salvador ALLENDE was overthrown in 1973 by a military coup led by Augusto PINOCHET, who ruled until a freely elected president was installed in 1990. Sound economic policies, maintained consistently since the 1980s, have contributed to steady growth, reduced poverty rates by over half, and have helped secure the country's commitment to democratic and representative government. Chile has increasingly assumed regional and international leadership roles befitting its status as a stable, democratic nation.

Geography ::Chile

View Larger Map


Southern South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between
Argentina and Peru

Geographic coordinates:
30 00 S, 71 00 W

Map references:

South America


total: 756,102 sq km country comparison to the world: 38 land: 743,812 sq km

water: 12,290 sq km

note: includes Easter Island (Isla de Pascua) and Isla Sala y Gomez

Area - comparative:

slightly smaller than twice the size of Montana

Land boundaries:

total: 6,339 km

border countries: Argentina 5,308 km, Bolivia 860 km, Peru 171 km



6,435 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm

contiguous zone: 24 nm

exclusive economic zone: 200 nm

continental shelf: 200/350 nm


temperate; desert in north; Mediterranean in central region; cool and damp in south


low coastal mountains; fertile central valley; rugged Andes in east

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Pacific Ocean 0 m

highest point: Nevado Ojos del Salado 6,880 m

Natural resources:

copper, timber, iron ore, nitrates, precious metals, molybdenum, hydropower

Land use:

arable land: 2.62%

permanent crops: 0.43%

other: 96.95% (2005)

Irrigated land:

19,000 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources:

922 cu km (2000)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):

total: 12.55 cu km/yr (11%/25%/64%)

per capita: 770 cu m/yr (2000)


Natural hazards:

severe earthquakes; active volcanism; tsunamis

volcanism: Chile experiences significant volcanic activity due to the more than three-dozen active volcanoes situated within the Andes Mountains; Lascar (elev. 5,592 m, 18,346 ft), which last erupted in 2007, is the most active volcano in the northern Chilean Andes; Llaima (elev. 3,125 m, 10,253 ft) in central Chile, which last erupted in 2009, is another of the country's most active; Chaiten's 2008 eruption forced major evacuations; other notable historically active volcanoes include Cerro Hudson, Copahue, Guallatiri, Llullaillaco, Nevados de Chillan, San Pedro, and Villarrica

Environment - current issues:

widespread deforestation and mining threaten natural resources; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; water pollution from raw sewage

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living
Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate
Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered
Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the
Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution,
Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note:

strategic location relative to sea lanes between Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (Strait of Magellan, Beagle Channel, Drake Passage); Atacama Desert is one of world's driest regions


People ::Chile


16,746,491 (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 60

Age structure:

0-14 years: 23.2% (male 1,966,017/female 1,877,963)

15-64 years: 67.8% (male 5,625,963/female 5,628,146)

65 years and over: 9.1% (male 627,746/female 875,872) (2010 est.)

Median age:

total: 31.7 years

male: 30.7 years

female: 32.8 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.856% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 134

Birth rate:

14.46 births/1,000 population (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 144

Death rate:

5.9 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 169

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population country comparison to the world: 77


urban population: 88% of total population (2008)

rate of urbanization: 1.3% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female

total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 7.52 deaths/1,000 live births country comparison to the world: 164 male: 8.29 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 6.71 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 77.53 years country comparison to the world: 56 male: 74.26 years

female: 80.96 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate:

1.9 children born/woman (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 143

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.3% (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 85

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

31,000 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 70

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

1,100 (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 72


noun: Chilean(s)

adjective: Chilean

Ethnic groups:

white and white-Amerindian 95.4%, Mapuche 4%, other indigenous groups 0.6% (2002 census)


Roman Catholic 70%, Evangelical 15.1%, Jehovah's Witness 1.1%, other
Christian 1%, other 4.6%, none 8.3% (2002 census)


Spanish (official), Mapudungun, German, English


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 95.7%

male: 95.8%

female: 95.6% (2002 census)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):

total: 15 years

male: 15 years

female: 14 years (2007)

Education expenditures:

3.4% of GDP (2007) country comparison to the world: 135

Government ::Chile

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Chile

conventional short form: Chile

local long form: Republica de Chile

local short form: Chile

Government type:



name: Santiago

geographic coordinates: 33 27 S, 70 40 W

time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

daylight saving time: +1hr, begins second Sunday in October; ends second Sunday in March

note: the Chilean Government announced on 4 March 2010 that the end of DST would be delayed until 4 April 2010 providing respite to those affected by the 8.8 magnitude earthquake of February 2010

Administrative divisions:

15 regions (regiones, singular - region); Aisen del General Carlos
Ibanez del Campo, Antofagasta, Araucania, Arica y Parinacota,
Atacama, Biobio, Coquimbo, Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins,
Los Lagos, Los Rios, Magallanes y de la Antartica Chilena, Maule,
Region Metropolitana (Santiago), Tarapaca, Valparaiso

note: the US does not recognize claims to Antarctica


18 September 1810 (from Spain)

National holiday:

Independence Day, 18 September (1810)


11 September 1980, effective 11 March 1981; amended 1989, 1991, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2003, and 2005

Legal system:

based on Code of 1857 derived from Spanish law and subsequent codes influenced by French and Austrian law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; note - in June 2005, Chile completed overhaul of its criminal justice system to a US-style adversarial system


18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Sebastian PINERA Echenique (since 11 March 2010); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government

head of government: President Sebastian PINERA Echenique (since 11 March 2010)

cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president (For more information visit the World Leaders website ) elections: president elected by popular vote for a single four-year term; election last held on 13 December 2009 with runoff election held on 17 January 2010 (next to be held in December 2013)

election results: Sebastian PINERA Echenique elected president; percent of vote - Sebastian PINERA Echenique 51.6%; Eduardo FREI 48.4%

Legislative branch:

bicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional consists of the Senate or Senado (38 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve eight-year terms; one-half elected every four years) and the Chamber of Deputies or Camara de Diputados (120 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)

elections: Senate - last held on 13 December 2009 (next to be held in December 2013); Chamber of Deputies - last held on 13 December 2009 (next to be held in December 2013)

election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CPD 9 (PDC 4, PPD 3, PS 2), APC 9 (RN 6, UDI 3); Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CC 58 (UDI 37, RN 18, other 3), CPD 57 (PDC 19, PPD 18, PS 11, PRSD 5, PC 3, other 1), PRI 3, independent 2

Judicial branch:

Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (judges are appointed by the president and ratified by the Senate from lists of candidates provided by the court itself; the president of the Supreme Court is elected every three years by the 20-member court); Constitutional Tribunal (eight-members - two each from the Senate, Chamber of Deputies, Supreme Court, and National Security Council - review the constitutionality of laws approved by Congress)

Political parties and leaders:

Broad Social Movement or MAS; Clean Chile Vote Happy or CLVF
(including Broad Social Movement, Country Force, and Regionalist
Party of Independents or PRI); Coalition for Change or CC (formerly
known as the Alliance for Chile (Alianza) or APC) (including
National Renewal or RN [Carlos LARRAIN Pena], Independent Democratic
Union or UDI [Juan Antonio COLOMA Correa], and Chile First [Vlado
MIROSEVIC]); Coalition of Parties for Democracy (Concertacion) or
CPD (including Christian Democratic Party or PDC [Ignacio WALKER],
Party for Democracy or PPD [Carolina TOHA Morales], Radical Social
Democratic Party or PRSD [Jose Antonio GOMEZ Urrutia], and Socialist
Party or PS [Osvaldo ANDRADE]); Partido Ecologista del Sur; Together
We Can Do More (including Communist Party or PC [Guillermo TEILLIER
del Valle], and Humanist Party or PH [Danilo MONTEVERDE])

Political pressure groups and leaders:

Roman Catholic Church, particularly conservative groups such as Opus Dei; United Labor Central or CUT includes trade unionists from the country's five largest labor confederations

other: revitalized university student federations at all major universities

International organization participation:

APEC, BIS, CAN (associate), CD, FAO, G-15, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD,
Mercosur (associate), MIGA, MINUSTAH, NAM, OAS, OECD, OPANAL, OPCW,

Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Arturo FERNANDOIS Vohringer

chancery: 1732 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036

telephone: [1] (202) 785-1746
FAX: [1] (202) 887-5579

consulate(s) general: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico)

Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Alejandro D. WOLFF

embassy: Avenida Andres Bello 2800, Las Condes, Santiago

mailing address: APO AA 34033

telephone: [56] (2) 330-3000
FAX: [56] (2) 330-3710, 330-3160

Flag description:

two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red; a blue square the same height as the white band at the hoist-side end of the white band; the square bears a white five-pointed star in the center representing a guide to progress and honor; blue symbolizes the sky, white is for the snow-covered Andes, and red represents the blood spilled to achieve independence

note: design was influenced by the US flag

National anthem:

name: "Himno Nacional de Chile" (National Anthem of Chile)

lyrics/music: Eusebio LILLO Robles and Bernardo DE VERA y Pintado/Ramon CARNICER y Battle

note: music adopted 1828, original lyrics adopted 1818, adapted lyrics adopted 1847; under Augusto PINOCHET"s military rule, a verse glorifying the army was added; however, as a protest, some citizens refused to sing this verse; it was removed when democracy was restored in 1990

Economy ::Chile

Economy - overview:

Chile has a market-oriented economy characterized by a high level of foreign trade and a reputation for strong financial institutions and sound policy that have given it the strongest sovereign bond rating in South America. Exports account for more than one-fourth of GDP, with commodities making up some three-quarters of total exports. Copper alone provides one-third of government revenue. During the early 1990s, Chile's reputation as a role model for economic reform was strengthened when the democratic government of Patricio AYLWIN - which took over from the military in 1990 - deepened the economic reform initiated by the military government. Growth in real GDP averaged 8% during 1991-97, but fell to half that level in 1998 because of tight monetary policies implemented to keep the current account deficit in check and because of lower export earnings - the latter a product of the global financial crisis. A severe drought exacerbated the situation in 1999, reducing crop yields and causing hydroelectric shortfalls and electricity rationing, and Chile experienced negative economic growth for the first time in more than 15 years. In the years since then, growth has averaged 4% per year. Chile deepened its longstanding commitment to trade liberalization with the signing of a free trade agreement with the US, which took effect on 1 January 2004. Chile claims to have more bilateral or regional trade agreements than any other country. It has 57 such agreements (not all of them full free trade agreements), including with the European Union, Mercosur, China, India, South Korea, and Mexico. Over the past seven years, foreign direct investment inflows have quadrupled to some $15 billion in 2010, but FDI had dropped to about $7 billion in 2009 in the face of diminished investment throughout the world. The Chilean government conducts a rule-based countercyclical fiscal policy, accumulating surpluses in sovereign wealth funds during periods of high copper prices and economic growth, and allowing deficit spending only during periods of low copper prices and growth. As of September 2008, those sovereign wealth funds - kept mostly outside the country and separate from Central Bank reserves - amounted to more than $20 billion. Chile used $4 billion from this fund to finance a fiscal stimulus package to fend off recession. In December 2009, the OECD invited Chile to become a full member, after a two year period of compliance with organization mandates. The economy started to show signs of a rebound in the fourth quarter, 2009, and GDP grew more than 5% in 2010. The magnitude 8.8 earthquake that struck Chile in February 2010 was one of the top ten strongest earthquakes on record. It caused considerable damage near the epicenter, located about 70 miles from Concepcion - and about 200 miles southwest of Santiago.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$260 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 46 $246.9 billion (2009 est.)

$250.6 billion (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP (official exchange rate):

$199.2 billion (2010 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

5.3% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 48 -1.5% (2009 est.)

3.7% (2008 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$15,500 (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 72 $14,900 (2009 est.)

$15,200 (2008 est.)

note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 5.6%

industry: 40.5%

services: 53.9% (2009 est.)

Labor force:

7.58 million (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 61

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 13.2%

industry: 23%

services: 63.9% (2005)

Unemployment rate:

8.7% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 100 9.6% (2009 est.)

Population below poverty line:

18.2% (2005)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 1.6%

highest 10%: 41.7% (2006)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

54.9 (2003) country comparison to the world: 14 57.1 (2000)

Investment (gross fixed):

23.5% of GDP (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 52

Public debt:

6.2% of GDP (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 126 6.1% of GDP (2009 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

1.7% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 45 1.5% (2009 est.)

Central bank discount rate:

0.5% (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 52 8.25% (31 December 2008)

Commercial bank prime lending rate:

7.25% (31 December 2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 60 13.26% (31 December 2008 est.)

Stock of narrow money:

$29.81 billion (31 December 2010 est) country comparison to the world: 57 $23.68 billion (31 December 2009 est)

Stock of broad money:

$160.3 billion (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 45 $127.5 billion (31 December 2008)

Stock of domestic credit:

$153.6 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 41 $133.7 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Market value of publicly traded shares:

$209.5 billion (31 December 2009) country comparison to the world: 29 $132.4 billion (31 December 2008)

$212.9 billion (31 December 2007)

Agriculture - products:

grapes, apples, pears, onions, wheat, corn, oats, peaches, garlic, asparagus, beans; beef, poultry, wool; fish; timber


copper, other minerals, foodstuffs, fish processing, iron and steel, wood and wood products, transport equipment, cement, textiles

Industrial production growth rate:

3.2% (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 97

Electricity - production:

60.6 billion kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 41

Electricity - consumption:

57.29 billion kWh (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 43

Electricity - exports:

0 kWh (2008 est.)

Electricity - imports:

1.628 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Oil - production:

10,850 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 84

Oil - consumption:

277,000 bbl/day (2009 est.) country comparison to the world: 47

Oil - exports:

49,250 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 79

Oil - imports:

311,200 bbl/day (2007 est.) country comparison to the world: 36

Oil - proved reserves:

150 million bbl (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 63

Natural gas - production:

1.65 billion cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 60

Natural gas - consumption:

2.34 billion cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 79

Natural gas - exports:

0 cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 188

Natural gas - imports:

690 million cu m (2008 est.) country comparison to the world: 58

Natural gas - proved reserves:

97.97 billion cu m (1 January 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 53

Current account balance:

$1.033 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 45 $4.217 billion (2009 est.)


$64.28 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 45 $53.74 billion (2009 est.)

Exports - commodities:

copper, fruit, fish products, paper and pulp, chemicals, wine

Exports - partners:

China 16.46%, US 11.31%, Japan 9.06%, South Korea 6.49%, Brazil 4.64%, Mexico 4.09% (2009)


$54.23 billion (2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 46 $39.75 billion (2009 est.)

Imports - commodities:

petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, electrical and telecommunications equipment, industrial machinery, vehicles, natural gas

Imports - partners:

US 21.77%, China 12.76%, Argentina 9.55%, Brazil 6.46%, South Korea 5.35% (2009)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$26.08 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 37 $25.29 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Debt - external:

$84.51 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 40 $72.76 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home:

$136.3 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 26 $121.6 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad:

$51.15 billion (31 December 2010 est.) country comparison to the world: 33 $41.2 billion (31 December 2009 est.)

Exchange rates:

Chilean pesos (CLP) per US dollar - 525.34 (2010), 560.86 (2009), 509.02 (2008), 526.25 (2007), 530.29 (2006)

Communications ::Chile

Telephones - main lines in use:

3.575 million (2009) country comparison to the world: 43

Telephones - mobile cellular:

16.45 million (2009) country comparison to the world: 44

Telephone system:

general assessment: privatization begun in 1988; most advanced telecommunications infrastructure in South America; modern system based on extensive microwave radio relay facilities; domestic satellite system with 3 earth stations

domestic: number of fixed-line connections have stagnated in recent years as mobile-cellular usage continues to increase, reaching a level of 100 telephones per 100 persons

international: country code - 56; landing points for the Pan American, South America-1, and South American Crossing/Latin America Nautilius submarine cables providing links to the US and to Central and South America; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2009)

Broadcast media:

national and local terrestrial television channels, coupled with extensive cable TV networks; the state-owned Television Nacional de Chile (TVN) network is self-financed through commercial advertising revenues and is not under direct government control; large number of privately-owned TV stations; about 250 radio stations (2007)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

1.056 million (2010) country comparison to the world: 43

Internet users:

7.009 million (2009) country comparison to the world: 39

Transportation ::Chile


366 (2010) country comparison to the world: 22

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 84

over 3,047 m: 5

2,438 to 3,047 m: 8

1,524 to 2,437 m: 23

914 to 1,523 m: 24

under 914 m: 24 (2010)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 282

2,438 to 3,047 m: 3

1,524 to 2,437 m: 12

914 to 1,523 m: 50

under 914 m: 217 (2010)


gas 2,673 km; liquid petroleum gas 519 km; oil 892 km; refined products 769 km (2009)


total: 5,483 km country comparison to the world: 34 broad gauge: 1,706 km 1.676-m gauge (850 km electrified)

narrow gauge: 3,777 km 1.000-m gauge (2008)


total: 80,505 km country comparison to the world: 59 paved: 16,745 km (includes 2,414 km of expressways)

unpaved: 63,760 km (2004)

Merchant marine:

total: 48 country comparison to the world: 71 by type: bulk carrier 11, cargo 10, chemical tanker 8, container 1, liquefied gas 2, passenger 4, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 8, roll on/roll off 1

foreign-owned: 1 (Norway 1)

registered in other countries: 48 (Argentina 6, Belize 1, Brazil 1, Cyprus 1, Isle of Man 8, Liberia 7, Panama 17, Singapore 7) (2010)

Ports and terminals:

Coronel, Huasco, Lirquen, Puerto Ventanas, San Antonio, San Vicente,

Military ::Chile

Military branches:

Army of the Nation, Chilean Navy (Armada de Chile, includes Naval
Aviation, Marine Corps, and Maritime Territory and Merchant Marine
Directorate (Directemar)), Chilean Air Force (Fuerza Aerea de Chile,
FACh), Carabineros Corps (Cuerpo de Carabineros) (2010)

Military service age and obligation:

18-45 years of age for voluntary male and female military service, although the right to compulsory recruitment is retained; service obligation - 12 months for Army, 22 months for Navy and Air Force (2008)

Manpower available for military service:

males age 16-49: 4,301,900

females age 16-49: 4,232,956 (2010 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:

males age 16-49: 3,599,328

females age 16-49: 3,544,156 (2010 est.)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:

male: 143,778

female: 138,058 (2010 est.)

Military expenditures:

2.7% of GDP (2006) country comparison to the world: 52

Transnational Issues ::Chile

Disputes - international:

Chile and Peru rebuff Bolivia's reinvigorated claim to restore the Atacama corridor, ceded to Chile in 1884, but Chile has offered instead unrestricted but not sovereign maritime access through Chile to Bolivian gas and other commodities; Chile rejects Peru's unilateral legislation to change its latitudinal maritime boundary with Chile to an equidistance line with a southwestern axis favoring Peru, in October 2007, Peru took its maritime complaint with Chile to the ICJ; territorial claim in Antarctica (Chilean Antarctic Territory) partially overlaps Argentine and British claims; the joint boundary commission, established by Chile and Argentina in 2001, has yet to map and demarcate the delimited boundary in the inhospitable Andean Southern Ice Field (Campo de Hielo Sur)

Illicit drugs:

transshipment country for cocaine destined for Europe and the region; some money laundering activity, especially through the Iquique Free Trade Zone; imported precursors passed on to Bolivia; domestic cocaine consumption is rising, making Chile a significant consumer of cocaine (2008)


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