The Republic of Chile, or República de Chile, is located on the southwestern coast of South America. It is the land between the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean. It shares borders with Argentina, Bolivia and Peru.
See chilli pepper for the culinary vegetable also called "chile"
|National motto: Por la razón o la fuerza (Spanish: By reason or strength)|
|President||Ricardo Lagos Escobar|
- % water
|Ranked 37th |
756,950 km² ¹
- Total (2000)
- Formaly declared
September 18, 1810
February 12, 1818
|Time zone||UTC -4|
|National anthem||Himno Nacional|
|(1) Chile claims 1,250,000 km² of Antarctica|
In 1531 the Spanish conquered Peru from the Incas. One of the Conquistadors in that voyage was Diego de Almagro. He left in 1535 to the South of Peru after territorial disputes. He is credited with being the discoverer of Chile. However he did not leave any lasting marks on the territory. It wasn't until to voyage of Pedro de Valdivia 1540-1541 that a permanent Spanish presence was established. Valdivia founded a string of villages on his way south. Finally, on 12th of February 1541 he founded Santiago.
A Spanish colony until the 1810s, after gaining its independence, Chile has had a remarkably stable institutional life, with only a handful of interruptions, the longest and most recent being the government of Augusto Pinochet.
The country's current constitution was adopted in 1980 during the military government led by Augusto Pinochet and increased the power of the president and institutionalized the participation of the comanders in chief of the armed forced in the institutional life. After Pinochet's defeat on the 1988 referendum, several amendments have been made, decreasing the power of the president and toning down the vioce of the armed forces. As of 2003, discussions about further reforms continue, but have a low priority.
Executive Branch is headed by the president of the republic. As of 2003 the president is the socialist Ricardo Lagos. The president also appoints the cabinet members. The president is chosen for 6 year terms and cannot be immediately re-elected.
Judicial Branch has the Supreme court[?] as its highest institution. For questions related to the constitution there is the Constitutional Tribunal, which also has the right to veto laws that it considers go against the constitution.
Legislative Branch is made up of 2 chambers.
For any law to be passed, a law has to pass through both chambers and be aproved by the president of the republic (who has a limited veto right). The chambers and the president can all propose new laws, but there are matters where only the president can start a law.
Although there are some known cases of corruption in Chile, there is no rampant abuse of power by public officals.
Chile is divided into 13 regions, each of which is headed by an intendente. Every region is further divided into provinces with a Gobernador provincial. Finally each province is divided into various Comunas each with its own mayor. Intendentes and gobernadores are appointed by the president, mayour are elected by popular vote.
Each region is designated by a name and a Roman numeral. Numbers are asigned from north to south. In general the Roman numeral is used, rather than the name. The only exception is the region where santiago is situated, which is designated RM that stands for Region Metropolitana, Metropolitan Region.
The climate varies widely from subtropical[?] in the north, passing by the most arid desert in the world, the Atacama desert, through a fertile valley in the center, to a cold and damp south, originally covered by forest. The Mediterranean quality of the central valley made it ideal for the cultivation of table fruits, which are one of Chile's main exports, and the production of wine, also a growing export.
The economy is mostly export driven. Its main export product still continues to be copper, followed by agribusiness products. However this is not nearly as important (40% of total value exported) as it was 30 years ago (70% of exports). Recently Chile has also started exporting products such as fine wines, salmons and wood pulp. Though the country is not as industrialized as developed countries, it's one of the most industrialized nations of Latin America.
While the main industry of the northern part of Chile is mostly mining related, the southern half has quite an extensive agricultural and dairy industry. The Central-zone is dedicated mostly to services and industry, with the main harbor, Valparaiso, Chile, also situated in this part of the country.
Chile has a large service sector[?] and has one of the worlds most liberalized and modern telecommunications infrastructures. Tourist industry is also still growing in Chile. People are attracted to the country's rugged beauty of the southern woodlands, the emptyness of the northern desert plains and the May to September skiing season in the Andes mountains.
In the boom years of the 1990s yearly economic growth was in the 7 to 12% range. After the Asiatic economic crisis in 1997, economic growth has slowed to a steady 3% per year. In May of 2002, Chile was the first country of its continent to sign a free trade agreement with the European Union. In August of that same year, President Bush of the USA got the green light from the US Congress to start negotiating a free trade agreement with Chile.
The population is mostly mestizo, with some of the original ethnic groups remaining in the south, on Easter Island, and in the mountains in the north. Other minor ethnic groups are the result of some more recent European immigration, mostly from Germany.
|Date||English Name||Local Name||Remarks|
|January 1||New Year's Day||Año nuevo|
|March or April||Holy Week (Easter)||Semana Santa|
|May 1||Labour Day||Día del Trabajo|
|May 21||Navy Day[?]||Día de las fuezas navales|
|June||Corpus Christi[?]||Corpus Christi|
|August 15||Assumption of the Virgin[?]||Asuncion de La Virgen|
|September 18||Independence Day||Día de la Independencia||National holiday|
|September 19||Day of glories of the Army[?]||Día del las glorias del ejército|
|October 12||Columbus Day||Día de la Raza|
|December 8||Immaculate Conception||Día de la Inmaculada Concepción|
|December 25||Christmas Day||Navidad (also called Pascua)|
The national flower is the copihue, that lives in the woods in the southern part of Chile:
The shield-of-arms depicts the two national animals: the condor (a very large bird that lives in the mountains) and the huemul[?] (an endangered white tail deer). It also has the legend Por la razón o la fuerza (By reason or strength):