Map of Chile
Chile is a long,
narrow country that stretches about
4,265 kilometres from Peru in the
north to the southern tip of the
continent, on the west coast of
Chile's name probably comes from
chilli, a native word meaning where
the land ends.
Chile is a land of great variety.
The towering Andes Mountains rise
along the country's Pacific coast
to form Chile's eastern boundary.
Fertile river basins, the Central
Valley lies between the mountain
ranges and is divided into three
regions, the Northern Desert, the
Central Valley, and the Archipelago
(It has a breathtaking landscape
with snow-capped volcanoes, thick
forests, and huge glaciers, few
people live here with no railways
and very few roads).
windswept islands line the rugged
Chile's climate varies from the
very dry in the north to the very
wet in the south.
The Central Valley
has a mild climate, with dry summers
and relatively rainy winters.
The Atacama Desert in the north is one
of the driest places on the earth,
while parts of the south are among
For about 300 years, Chile was a
In 1818, Chile became an independent
republic from Spain and was ruled
for a long period by democratic
governments and a short period of
Head of the
state is the president, who is elected
by the people for a six-year term.
The president appoints 20 ministers
to his Cabinet to form the government.
Voters elect all of the members
of the 120-member Chamber of Deputies
and most of the 47 members of the
Senate, some are appointed by the
armed forces, the Supreme Court,
and by the president.
Chile is divided
into 13 regions which are further
divided into 54 provinces.
are divided into 334 counties.
The national government appoints the
regional and provincial administrators.
The people elect county officials
to four-year terms.
The Araucanian, the Quechua and
the Aymara people are the largest
indigenous Indian groups in Chile.
Their ancestors fought the Spaniards
and their descendants for about
Today, most of the Indians
live on reservations established
during the late 1800's.
Chileans are of mixed Spanish and
native ancestry (Called mestizos
and form about 75% of the population),
or of European descent and about
3% native 'Indians'.
of Chile's people live in the Central
Valley, where the country's major
factories, best farmlands and the
largest cities are situated, including
Santiago, Chile's Capital.
class structure in Chile is based
chiefly on wealth, but nearly all
members of the small, rich upper
class are people of European descent.
Mestizos make up most of the middle
class. The lower class consists
mainly of poor mestizos and most
of Chile's Indians.
Chileans celebrate various religious
holidays with colourful processions
The long Pacific coastline is dotted
with many popular and scenic beaches
and are popular with tourist and
local wealthy people, such as the
luxurious coastal resort of Vina
Most Chileans are well educated
with free state primary education,
and children must attend eight years
of primary school.
There are many
public and private high schools
and 23 Universities.
Soccer is Chile's most popular spectator
sport by far.
Chileans enjoy a number
of traditional dishes, and some
and fine Chilean wines.
Farms in the Central Valley produce
plentiful crops but most fruit grown
there is exported, but have to import
much of its food, manufactured goods,
Manufacturing and the service industries
comprise Chile's main industrial
income and activities.
sodium nitrate, gold, iron ore,
lithium, manganese, natural gas,
petroleum, and silver are the most
valuable resources and export earners.
Many other industries of Chile are
dependent on the country's mineral
It also has one of the
world's largest fishing industries.
Chile uses far more petroleum than
it produces and have to import more
than 90 per cent of the petroleum
Hydroelectric power plants
generate about two-thirds of Chile's
Plants that burn
petroleum produce most of the rest.
Railways, roads, and airlines connect
cities and towns in northern and
central Chile, in the south, ships
are still a major means of transport.
Most Chileans rely on cars and buses
for transportation and are well
served by radio and television stations.
The Atacama, Diaguita, and other
small groups lived along the north
coast and at the southern edge of
the Atacama Desert.
In the late
1400's, they were conquered by the
Inca of Peru.
Chile's largest indigenous
group, the Araucanians (also called
Mapuches), lived in the Central
Their fierce warriors withstood
the Inca's attacks. The Ona and
Yahgan lived by hunting and fishing
in the cold, wet southern part of
In 1520, the Portuguese navigator
Ferdinand Magellan became the first
European to reach Chile, through
the strait that bears his name,
near the bottom of South America.
In 1533 the Spanish defeated the
Inca' of Peru and seized their gold
Diego de Almagro, one of the Spanish
conquerors, and his men set out
in 1535 to explore the land south
of Peru, as far as the present-day
Santiago in a vain hope to find
more gold and silver.
In 1541, another
Spaniard, Pedro de Valdivia, founded
Santiago, but it was destroyed six
months later by the Araucanians.
Santiago was rebuilt and La Serena,
Valparaiso, Concepcion, Valdivia,
and Villarrica was established.
Spain ruled Chile from the 1500's
to the early 1800's as the Viceroyalty
of Peru, while the Roman Catholic
Church sent missionaries to Chile
to convert the indigenous people
In 1808, during the Napoleonic war
in Spain, the colonies took the
opportunity to revolt.
In 1810 Chile declared it's independence.
Spanish forces from Peru regained
control for Spain.
In 1818, Bernardo O'Higgins defeated
the Sopanish, introduced a constitution
and established many new institutions
to set Chile on a path to nationhood.
In the ninetieth century Chile declared
war on Peru and Bolivia over control
of the nitrate deposits in the Atacama
Chile won the war and increased
its land area by more than a third
and gained large deposits of copper
In the 1890s, Civil War broke out
over the struggle for power between
the President and Congress.
Congress remained the strongest force in
Chilean politics until 1925.
Chile remained neutral during World War
The nation's economy
boomed because of the wartime demand
for nitrates, used to make explosives.
After the war, Chile's export market
collapsed and unemployment surged.
The Constitution of 1925 restored
many of the now elected
president's powers, strengthened
individual rights, including universal
suffrage in the following years.
Chile was neutral for most of the
World War II.
In 1970 Salvador Allende Gossens,
the first Marxist to be elected
democratically in the Western Hemisphere
came to power.
The Allende government
quickly nationalised the copper
mines, private banks, industries,
begin a land reform, and sharp increases
in the minimum wages, with strict
Food shortages, rapid inflation,
strikes and violent demonstrations
of supporters and opponents of Allende
In 1973, a military
leaders formed a junta, led by General
Augusto Pinochet Ugarte overthrew
the Allende's government.
In 1989, a civilian president and
a two-house legislature was elected.
The official language is Spanish,
and most Chileans are Roman Catholics.
Santiago is Chile's largest and
capital City, with about 80% (more
than 4 million) Chileans living
in its metropolitan area.
Santiago was founded in 1551, burnt down
by natives six months later, to
be rebuilt soon afterwards and has
been the principal settlement and
Santiago have many
modern skyscrapers in busy commercial
districts and many Spanish-style
buildings with red tile roofs and
Monuments and public buildings
border tree-lined streets, with
many parks, gardens, and large plazas.
The city receives a total of about
35 centimetres of rain annually.
Temperatures average about 20 °C
in January and about 9 °C in July.
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