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Chile

Chile Guide. Chile Country Profile.

Country Profile: Chile.

Interesting Trivia: Tennis player Fernando González is the only Chilean to win gold, silver and bronze medals at the summer Olympics.

The Republic of Chile is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes Mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south. Along with Ecuador, it is one of two countries in South America that do not border Brazil.

Prior to arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, northern Chile was under Inca rule while the indigenous Mapuche inhabited central and southern Chile. Chile declared its independence from Spain on February 12, 1818. In the War of the Pacific (1879–83), Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia and won its current northern territory. It was not until the 1880s that the Mapuche were completely subjugated. Although relatively free of the coups and arbitrary governments that blighted South America, Chile endured the 17-year long military dictatorship (1973–1990) of Augusto Pinochet that left more than 3,000 people dead or missing.

Today, Chile is one of South America’s most stable and prosperous nations and a recognized middle power. It leads Latin American nations in human development, competitiveness, income per capita, globalization, economic freedom, and low perception of corruption. It also ranks high regionally in freedom of the press and democratic development. In May 2010 Chile became the first South American country to join the OECD. Chile is a founding member of both the United Nations and the Union of South American Nations.

:: Background of 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 of Chile ::

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

Geographic coordinates: 30 00 S, 71 00 W

Area:
total: 756,102 sq km
land: 743,812 sq km
water: 12,290 sq km
note: includes Easter Island (Isla de Pascua) and Isla Sala y Gómez

Area – comparative: slightly smaller than twice the size of Montana
Land boundaries: 6,339 km
Coastline: 6,435 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200/350 nm

Climate: temperate; desert in north; Mediterranean in central region; cool and damp in south
Terrain: 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 of Chile ::

Population: 16,888,760 (July 2011 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 22.3% (male 1,928,210/female 1,840,839)
15-64 years: 68.1% (male 5,751,091/female 5,744,014)
65 years and over: 9.6% (male 680,450/female 944,156) (2011 est.)

Median age:
total: 32.1 years
male: 31.1 years
female: 33.1 years (2011 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.836% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 14.33 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 5.97 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Urbanization:
urban population: 89% of total population (2010)
rate of urbanization: 1.1% annual rate of change (2010-15 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 (2011 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 7.34 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 8.1 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 6.55 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.7 years
male: 74.44 years
female: 81.13 years (2011 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.88 children born/woman (2011 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.4% (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 40,000 (2009 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA

Nationality: noun: Chilean(s) adjective: Chilean
Ethnic groups: white and white-Amerindian 95.4%, Mapuche 4%, other indigenous groups 0.6% (2002 census)
Religions: Roman Catholic 70%, Evangelical 15.1%, Jehovah’s Witness 1.1%, other Christian 1%, other 4.6%, none 8.3% (2002 census)

Languages: Spanish (official), Mapudungun, German, English
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.7%
male: 95.8%
female: 95.6% (2002 est.)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 15 years
male: 15 years
female: 15 years (2008)
Education expenditures: 3.4% of GDP (2007)