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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"

La República de Chile
(In Detail)  
National motto: Por la razón o la fuerza (Spanish: By reason or strength)
Official languageSpanish
PresidentRicardo Lagos Escobar
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 37th
756,950 km² ¹
 - Total (2000)
 - Density
Ranked 61st
 - Initiated
 - Formaly declared
From Spain
September 18, 1810
February 12, 1818
Time zoneUTC -4
National anthemHimno Nacional
Internet TLD.CL
Calling Code56
(1) Chile claims 1,250,000 km² of Antarctica
Table of contents

History Main article: History of Chile

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.

Politics Main article: Politics of Chile

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.

  • The Senate[?] which has 38 members elected by popular vote, nine appointed from various institutions such as the National Security Council and the judicial system and the President of the Republic, and the former presidents of the republic. The elected Senators are chosen for eight year terms in a bi-nominal election system that favors the two largest political blocks.
  • The Chamber of Deputies[?] has 120 members, all of which are universally chosen. Deputies serve 4 year terms.

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.

Regions Main article: Regions of Chile[?]

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.

Geography Main article: Geography of Chile

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.

Economy Main article: Economy of Chile

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.

Demographics Main article: Demographics of 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.

The level of education is high, and Chileans are proud of having two winners of the Nobel Prize in literature: Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda.

Culture Main article: Culture of Chile

DateEnglish NameLocal NameRemarks
January 1New Year's DayAño nuevo
March or AprilHoly Week (Easter)Semana Santa
May 1Labour DayDía del Trabajo
May 21Navy Day[?]Día de las fuezas navales
JuneCorpus Christi[?]Corpus Christi
August 15Assumption of the Virgin[?]Asuncion de La Virgen
September 18Independence DayDía de la IndependenciaNational holiday
September 19Day of glories of the Army[?]Día del las glorias del ejército
October 12Columbus DayDía de la Raza
December 8Immaculate ConceptionDía de la Inmaculada Concepción
December 25Christmas DayNavidad (also called Pascua)

International rankings

Miscellaneous topics

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):


  • Much of the material in these articles comes from the CIA World Factbook 2000 and the 2003 U.S. Department of State website.

Countries of the world  |  South America

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