Flag of Chile

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Prior to the coming of the Spanish in the 16th century, northern Chile was under Inca rule while Araucanian Indians inhabited central and southern Chile; the latter were not completely subjugated until the early 1880s. Although Chile declared its independence in 1810, decisive victory over the Spanish was not achieved until 1818. In the War of the Pacific (1879-84), Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia and won its present northern lands. A three-year-old Marxist government of Salvador ALLENDE was overthrown in 1973 by a dictatorial military regime 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 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.


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

Geographic coordinates:

30 00 S, 71 00 W


total: 756,950 sq km
land: 748,800 sq km
water: 8,150 sq km
note: includes Easter Island (Isla de Pascua) and Isla Sala y Gomez

Land boundaries:

total: 6,171 km
border countries: Argentina 5,150 km, Bolivia 861 km, Peru 160 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)

Natural hazards:

severe earthquakes; active volcanism; tsunamis

Environment - current issues:

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

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


16,134,219 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 24.7% (male 2,035,278/female 1,944,754)
15-64 years: 67.1% (male 5,403,525/female 5,420,497)
65 years and over: 8.2% (male 555,075/female 775,090) (2006 est.)

Median age:

total: 30.4 years
male: 29.5 years
female: 31.4 years (2006 est.)

Population growth rate:

0.94% (2006 est.)

Birth rate:

15.23 births/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Death rate:

5.81 deaths/1,000 population (2006 est.)

Net migration rate:

0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2006 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 (2006 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

total: 8.58 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 9.32 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 7.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 76.77 years
male: 73.49 years
female: 80.21 years (2006 est.)

Total fertility rate:

2 children born/woman (2006 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.3% (2003 est.)

people living with HIV/AIDS:

26,000 (2003 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

1,400 (2003 est.)


noun: Chilean(s)
adjective: Chilean

Ethnic groups:

white and white-Amerindian 95%, Amerindian 3%, other 2%


Roman Catholic 89%, Protestant 11%, Jewish NEGL%




definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.2%
male: 96.4%
female: 96.1% (2003 est.)

Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Chile
conventional short form: Chile
local long form: Republica de Chile
local short form: Chile

Government type:




Administrative divisions:

13 regions (regiones, singular - region); Aisen del General Carlos Ibanez del Campo, Antofagasta, Araucania, Atacama, Bio-Bio, Coquimbo, Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins, Los Lagos, 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 new, US-style adversarial system


18 years of age; universal and compulsory

Legislative branch:

bicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional consists of the Senate or Senado (38 seats elected by popular vote; members 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 11 December 2005 (next to be held December 2009); Chamber of Deputies - last held 11 December 2005 (next to be held December 2009)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CPD 20 (PDC 6, PS 8, PPD 3, PRSD 3), APC 17 (UDI 9, RN 8), independent 1; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CPD 65 (PDC 21, PPD 22, PS 15, PRSD 7), APC 54 (UDI 34, RN 20), independent 1

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

Economy - overview:

Chile has a market-oriented economy characterized by a high level of foreign trade. 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 recession 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. Despite the effects of the recession, Chile maintained its reputation for strong financial institutions and sound policy that have given it the strongest sovereign bond rating in South America. By the end of 1999, exports and economic activity had begun to recover, and growth rebounded to 4.2% in 2000. Growth fell back to 3.1% in 2001 and 2.1% in 2002, largely due to lackluster global growth and the devaluation of the Argentine peso. Chile's economy began a slow recovery in 2003, growing 3.2%, and accelerated to 6.1% in 2004-05, while Chile maintained a low rate of inflation. GDP growth benefited from high copper prices, solid export earnings (particularly forestry, fishing, and mining), and stepped-up foreign direct investment. Unemployment, however, remains stubbornly high. 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 signed a free trade agreement with China in November 2005, and it already has several trade deals signed with other nations and blocs, including the European Union, Mercosur, South Korea, and Mexico. Record-high copper prices helped to strengthen the peso to a 5-year high, as of December 2005, and will boost GDP in 2006.

GDP (purchasing power parity):

$185.1 billion (2005 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):

$115.6 billion (2005 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

6% (2005 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP):

$11,300 (2005 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 6.2%
industry: 46.5%
services: 47.3% (2005 est.)

Labor force:

6.3 million (2005 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 13.6%
industry: 23.4%
services: 63% (2003)

Unemployment rate:

8% (2005 est.)

Population below poverty line:

18.2% (2005)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 1.2%
highest 10%: 47% (2000)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

57.1 (2000)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

3.2% (2005 est.)

Investment (gross fixed):

23.2% of GDP (2005 est.)


revenues: $29.2 billion
expenditures: $24.75 billion; including capital expenditures of $3.33 billion (2005 est.)

Public debt:

8.1% of GDP (2005 est.)

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:

6% (2005 est.)

Electricity - production:

45.3 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - consumption:

44.13 billion kWh (2003)

Electricity - imports:

2 billion kWh (2003)

Oil - production:

4,000 bbl/day (2005 est.)

Oil - consumption:

228,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - imports:

221,500 bbl/day (2003 est.)

Oil - proved reserves:

150 million bbl (1 January 2004)

Natural gas - production:

1 billion cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - consumption:

7.06 billion cu m (2003 est.)

Natural gas - imports:

5.337 billion cu m (2002 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:

97.98 billion cu m (1 January 2004)

Current account balance:

$309 million (2005 est.)


$38.03 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Exports - commodities:

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

Exports - partners:

US 14%, Japan 11.4%, China 9.9%, South Korea 5.5%, Netherlands 5.1%, Brazil 4.3%, Italy 4.1%, Mexico 4% (2004)


$30.09 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)

Imports - commodities:

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

Imports - partners:

Argentina 16.8%, US 13.7%, Brazil 11.2%, China 7.5% (2004)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:

$16.03 billion (November 2005 est.)

Debt - external:

$44.8 billion (31 October 2005 est.)

Economic aid - recipient:

$0 (2002)

Currency (code):

Chilean peso (CLP)

Fiscal year:

calendar year

Telephones - main lines in use:

3,318,300 (2004)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

9,566,600 (2004)

Telephone system:

general assessment: modern system based on extensive microwave radio relay facilities
domestic: extensive microwave radio relay links; domestic satellite system with three earth stations
international: country code - 56; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 180 (eight inactive), FM 64, shortwave 17 (one inactive) (1998)

Television broadcast stations:

63 (plus 121 repeaters) (1997)

Internet country code:


Internet hosts:

335,445 (2005)

Internet users:

5.6 million (2004)


363 (2005)

Airports - with paved runways:

total: 72
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 7
1,524 to 2,437 m: 22
914 to 1,523 m: 21
under 914 m: 17 (2005)

Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 291
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 59
under 914 m: 216 (2005)


gas 2,583 km; gas/lpg 42 km; liquid petroleum gas 539 km; oil 1,003 km; refined products 757 km (2004)


total: 6,585 km
broad gauge: 2,831 km 1.676-m gauge (1,317 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 3,754 km 1.000-m gauge (2004)


total: 79,605 km
paved: 16,080 km (including 407 km of expressways)
unpaved: 63,525 km (2001)

Merchant marine:

total: 46 ships (1000 GRT or over) 692,268 GRT/942,585 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 11, cargo 6, chemical tanker 9, container 1, liquefied gas 2, passenger 3, passenger/cargo 2, petroleum tanker 7, roll on/roll off 1, vehicle carrier 4
registered in other countries: 19 (Argentina 4, Brazil 1, Greece 1, Liberia 1, Marshall Islands 1, Panama 11) (2005)

Ports and terminals:

Antofagasta, Arica, Huasco, Iquique, Lirquen, San Antonio, San Vicente, Valparaiso

Military branches:

Army of the Nation, National Navy (includes naval air, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps), Chilean Air Force, Chilean Carabineros (National Police)

Disputes - international:

Chile rebuffs Bolivia's reactivated claim to restore the Atacama corridor, ceded to Chile in 1884, offering instead unrestricted but not sovereign maritime access through Chile to Bolivian gas and other commodities; Peru proposes changing its latitudinal maritime boundary with Chile to an equidistance line with a southwestern axis; territorial claim in Antarctica (Chilean Antarctic Territory) partially overlaps Argentine and British claims; action by the joint boundary commission, established by Chile and Argentina in 2001, for mapping and demarcating the disputed boundary in the Andean Southern Ice Field (Campo de Hielo Sur) remains pending

Illicit drugs:

important transshipment country for cocaine destined for Europe; economic prosperity and increasing trade have made Chile more attractive to traffickers seeking to launder drug profits, especially through the Iquique Free Trade Zone, but a new anti-money-laundering law improves controls; imported precursors passed on to Bolivia; domestic cocaine consumption is rising