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Xavier Zubiri Foundation of North America
By Exit Pages > Visit Detail > Country Facts for Chile
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Map of Chile
IntroductionTop
Background: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.
GeographyTop
Location:Southern South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Argentina and Peru
Geographic coordinates:30 00 S, 71 00 W
Map references:South America
Area: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

Area - comparative:slightly smaller than twice the size of Montana
Land boundaries:total: 6,171 km
border countries: Argentina 5,150 km, Bolivia 861 km, Peru 160 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: 2.65%
permanent crops: 0.42%
other: 96.93% (2001)

Irrigated land:18,000 sq km (1998 est.)
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
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
PeopleTop
Population:15,980,912 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:0-14 years: 25.2% (male 2,062,735/female 1,970,913)
15-64 years: 66.7% (male 5,320,870/female 5,342,771)
65 years and over: 8% (male 534,737/female 748,886) (2005 est.)

Median age:total: 30.07 years
male: 29.17 years
female: 31.05 years (2005 est.)

Population growth rate:0.97% (2005 est.)
Birth rate:15.44 births/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Death rate:5.76 deaths/1,000 population (2005 est.)
Net migration rate:0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2005 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: 0.71 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2005 est.)

Infant mortality rate:total: 8.8 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 9.55 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 8.01 deaths/1,000 live births (2005 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:total population: 76.58 years
male: 73.3 years
female: 80.03 years (2005 est.)

Total fertility rate:2.02 children born/woman (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:0.3% (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:26,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:1,400 (2003 est.)
Nationality:noun: Chilean(s)
adjective: Chilean

Ethnic groups:white and white-Amerindian 95%, Amerindian 3%, other 2%
Religions:Roman Catholic 89%, Protestant 11%, Jewish NEGL%
Languages:Spanish
Literacy:definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.2%
male: 96.4%
female: 96.1% (2003 est.)

GovernmentTop
Country name:conventional long form: Republic of Chile
conventional short form: Chile
local long form: Republica de Chile
local short form: Chile

Government type:republic
Capital:Santiago
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

Independence:18 September 1810 (from Spain)
National holiday:Independence Day, 18 September (1810)
Constitution:11 September 1980; effective 11 March 1981; amended 30 July 1989, 1993, and 1997
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: Chile is in the process of completely overhauling its criminal justice system; a new, US-style adversarial system is being gradually implemented throughout the country with the final stage of implementation in the Santiago metropolitan region expected in June 2005

Suffrage:18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch:chief of state: President Ricardo LAGOS Escobar (since 11 March 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Ricardo LAGOS Escobar (since 11 March 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term; election last held 12 December 1999, with runoff election held 16 January 2000 (next to be held December 2005)
election results: Ricardo LAGOS Escobar elected president; percent of vote - Ricardo LAGOS Escobar 51.32%, Joaquin LAVIN 48.68%

Legislative branch:bicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional consists of the Senate or Senado (48 seats, 38 elected by popular vote, 9 designated members, and 1 former president who has served a full six-year term and is senator for life); elected 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 16 December 2001 (next to be held December 2005); Chamber of Deputies - last held 16 December 2001 (next to be held December 2005)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - CPD 20 (PDC 12, PS 5, PPD 3), APC 16 (UDI 9, RN 7), independents 2; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - CPD 62 (PDC 24, PPD 21, PS 11, PRSD 6), UDI 35, RN 22, 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 by the 21-member court); Constitutional Tribunal
Political parties and leaders:Alliance for Chile ("Alianza") or APC (including National Renewal or RN [Sebastian PINERA] and Independent Democratic Union or UDI [Pablo LONGUEIRA]); Coalition of Parties for Democracy ("Concertacion") or CPD (including Christian Democratic Party or PDC [Adolfo ZALDIVAR], Socialist Party or PS [Gonzalo MARTNER], Party for Democracy or PPD [Victor BARRUETO], Radical Social Democratic Party or PRSD [Orlando CANTUARIAS]); Communist Party or PC [Gladys MARIN]
Political pressure groups and leaders:revitalized university student federations at all major universities; Roman Catholic Church; United Labor Central or CUT includes trade unionists from the country's five largest labor confederations
International organization participation:APEC, BIS, CSN, FAO, G-15, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, LAES, LAIA, Mercosur (associate), MIGA, MINUSTAH, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNMIK, UNMOGIP, UNTSO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTO
Flag description:two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red; there is 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 stands for the blood spilled to achieve independence; design was influenced by the US flag
EconomyTop
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 5.8% in 2004. 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.
GDP:purchasing power parity - $169.1 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:5.8% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:purchasing power parity - $10,700 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:agriculture: 6.3%
industry: 38.2%
services: 55.5% (2004 est.)

Labor force:6.2 million (2004 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:agriculture 13.6%, industry 23.4%, services 63% (2003)
Unemployment rate:8.5% (2004 est.)
Population below poverty line:20.6% (2000)
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):2.4% (2004 est.)
Investment (gross fixed):23.9% of GDP (2004 est.)
Budget:revenues: $21.53 billion
expenditures: $19.95 billion, including capital expenditures of $3.33 billion (2004 est.)

Public debt:12.8% of GDP (2004 est.)
Agriculture - products:grapes, apples, pears, onions, wheat, corn, oats, peaches, garlic, asparagus, beans, beef, poultry, wool; fish; timber
Industries:copper, other minerals, foodstuffs, fish processing, iron and steel, wood and wood products, transport equipment, cement, textiles
Industrial production growth rate:7.8% (2004 est.)
Electricity - production:48.6 billion kWh (2004)
Electricity - production by source:fossil fuel: 47%
hydro: 51.5%
nuclear: 0%
other: 1.4% (2001)

Electricity - consumption:41.8 billion kWh (2002)
Electricity - exports:0 kWh (2002)
Electricity - imports:1.813 billion kWh (2002)
Oil - production:18,500 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - consumption:240,000 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - exports:0 bbl/day (2003)
Oil - imports:221,500 bbl/day (2003 est.)
Oil - proved reserves:150 million bbl (1 January 2004)
Natural gas - production:1.18 billion cu m (2002 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:6.517 billion cu m (2002 est.)
Natural gas - exports:0 cu m (2002)
Natural gas - imports:5.337 billion cu m (2002 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:99.05 billion cu m (1 January 2004)
Current account balance:$2.185 billion (2004 est.)
Exports:$29.2 billion f.o.b. (2004 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)
Imports:$22.53 billion f.o.b. (2004 est.)
Imports - commodities:petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, electrical and telecommunications equipment, industrial machinery, vehicles, natural gas
Imports - partners:Argentina 17%, US 14.1%, Brazil 11.1%, China 7.1% (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold:$16.02 billion (2004)
Debt - external:$44.6 billion (2004 est.)
Currency (code):Chilean peso (CLP)
Currency code:CLP
Exchange rates:Chilean pesos per US dollar - 609.37 (2004), 691.43 (2003), 688.94 (2002), 634.94 (2001), 539.59 (2000)
Fiscal year:calendar year
CommunicationsTop
Telephones - main lines in use:3.467 million (2002)
Telephones - mobile cellular:6,445,700 (2002)
Telephone system:general assessment: modern system based on extensive microwave radio relay facilities
domestic: extensive microwave radio relay links; domestic satellite system with 3 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)
Radios:5.18 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:63 (plus 121 repeaters) (1997)
Televisions:3.15 million (1997)
Internet country code:.cl
Internet hosts:202,429 (2003)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):7 (2000)
Internet users:3.575 million (2002)
TransportationTop
Railways: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)

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

Pipelines:gas 2,583 km; gas/lpg 42 km; liquid petroleum gas 539 km; oil 1,003 km; refined products 757 km (2004)
Ports and harbors:Antofagasta, Arica, Huasco, Iquique, Lirquen, San Antonio, San Vicente, Valparaiso
Merchant marine:total: 47 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 725,216 GRT/954,519 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 10, cargo 6, chemical tanker 9, container 1, liquefied gas 3, passenger 3, passenger/cargo 2, petroleum tanker 8, roll on/roll off 1, vehicle carrier 4
registered in other countries: 21 (2005)

Airports:364 (2004 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:total: 71
over 3,047 m: 6
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 21
914 to 1,523 m: 23
under 914 m: 15 (2004 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways:total: 293
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 60
under 914 m: 217 (2004 est.)

MilitaryTop
Military branches:Army of the Nation, National Navy (includes naval air, Coast Guard, and Marine Corps), Chilean Air Force, Chilean Carabineros (National Police)
Military manpower - military age and obligation:18 years of age for compulsory military service; all citizens 18-45 are obligated to perform military service; conscript service obligation - 12 months for Army, 24 months for Navy and Air Force (2004)
Military manpower - availability:males age 18-49: 3,815,761 (2005 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:males age 18-49: 3,123,281 (2005 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:males: 140,084 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:$3.42 billion (2004)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:3.8% (2004)
Transnational IssuesTop
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
Illicit drugs:important transshipment country for cocaine destined for Europe and the US; 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



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