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Flag of Chile

Country Profile

Capital City: Santiago (pop. metropolitan area est. 6 million)
The legislative body operates in Valparaíso.

Other Cities: Concepcion-Talcahuano (840 000), Vina del Mar-Valparaíso (800 000), Antofagasta (245 000), Temuco (230 000).

Local Time:
UTC -4h

Location: Southern South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Argentina and Peru.
Area: 756 945 sq. km. (302 778 sq. mi.)
Terrain: Desert in north; fertile central valley; volcanoes and lakes toward the south, giving way to rugged and complex coastline; Andes Mountains on the eastern border.
Border countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Peru

Climate: Arid in north, Mediterranean in the central portion, cool and damp in south.

Type: Republic.
Independence: 18 Sept 1810 (from Spain).
Constitution: Promulgated 11 September 1980; effective 11 March 1981; amended in 1989, 1993, and 1997.

Nationality: Noun and adjective--Chilean(s).
Population: 15 million.
GNI per capita PPP: $ 11 537 (year)
Ethnic groups: Spanish-Native-American (mestizo), European, Native-American. Religions: Roman Catholic 69.9%; Protestant 15%. Languages: Spanish. Literacy: 95.8%.


Currency: Chilean Peso (CLP)

Natural resources: Copper, timber, iron ore, nitrates, precious metals, molybdenum, hydropower.

Agriculture products: Grapes, apples, pears, onions, wheat, corn, oats, peaches, wine, 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.

Exports partners:
USA 14%, Japan 11.4%, China 9.9%, South Korea 5.5%, Netherlands 5.1%, Brazil 4.3%, Italy 4.1%, Mexico 4% (2004)

Imports partners: Argentina 17%, USA 14.1%, Brazil 11.1%, China 7.1% (2004)

Internet Links

Official Sites of Chile


Presidencia de la República de Chile

Congreso Nacional

Gobierno de Chile

Ministerio de Planificación y Cooperación

Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores

Diplomatic Missions
Misión Permanente de Chile ante Naciones Unidas

Embassy of Chile in the U.S.

Diplomatic Missions of Chile Abroad

Foreign Diplomatic Missions in Chile

Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas

Map of Chile

Map of South America



Background:  A three-year-old Marxist government 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,
first implemented by the PINOCHET dictatorship, led to unprecedented
growth in 1991-97 and have helped secure the country's commitment to
democratic and representative government.

Geography Chile

Location:  Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean
and 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 note: includes Easter
Island (Isla de Pascua) and Isla Sala y Gomez water: 8,150 sq km

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:  contiguous zone: 24 NM territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200/350 NM exclusive economic zone: 200 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: 3% permanent crops: 0% other: 97% (1998 est.)

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, Desertification, Endangered
Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea,
Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Nuclear Test Ban

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 Chile

Population:  15,498,930 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:  0-14 years: 26.9% (male 2,127,696; female 2,033,201)
15-64 years: 65.6% (male 5,070,476; female 5,103,490) 65 years and over:
7.5% (male 482,846; female 681,221) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:  1.09% (2002 est.)

Birth rate:  16.46 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate:  5.59 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:  0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:  at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.05
male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female 65 years and over:
0.71 male(s)/female total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate:  9.12 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:   79.62 years (2002 est.)  male: Total fertility
rate:  2.13 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:  0.19% (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:  15,000 (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:  1,000 (1999 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: 95.2% male: 95.4% female: 95% (1995 est.)

Government Chile

Country name:   Republic of Chile conventional short form: 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

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
election results: Ricardo LAGOS Escobar elected president; percent of
vote - Ricardo LAGOS Escobar 51.32%, Joaquin LAVIN 48.68% 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 NA December 2005)

Legislative branch:  bicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional
consists of the Senate or Senado (49 seats, 38 elected by popular vote,
9 designated members, and 2 former presidents who serve six-year terms
and are senators 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) election results:  PS 5, PPD 3), UDI 9, RN 7,
independents 2; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA;
seats by party - CPD 63 (PDC 24, PPD 21, PS 11, PRSD 6,), UDI 35, RN 22,
independent 1 elections: Senate - last held 16 December 2001 (next to be
held NA December 2005); Chamber of Deputies - last held 16 December 2001
(next to be held NA December 2005)

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:  Center-Center Union Party or UCCP
[Francisco Javier ERRAZURIZ]; Christian Democratic Party or PDC [Patricia
ALYWIN]; Coalition of Parties for Democracy ("Concertacion") or CPD
- including PDC, PS, PPD, PRSD; Independent Democratic Union or UDI
[Pablo LONGUEIRA]; National Renewal or RN [Alberto CARDEMIL]; Party for
Democracy or PPD [Guido GIRARDI]; Radical Social Democratic Party or PRSD
[Anselmo SULE]; Socialist Party or PS [Ricardo NUNEZ]

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, CCC, ECLAC, FAO, G-15,
IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, LAES, LAIA, Mercosur

Diplomatic representation in the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
Andres BIANCHI chancery: 1732 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington,
DC 20036 consulate(s) general: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami,
New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and San Juan (Puerto Rico) FAX:
[1] (202) 887-5579 telephone: [1] (202) 785-1746

Diplomatic representation from the US:  chief of mission: Ambassador
(vacant); Charge d'Affaires Philip S.  GOLDBERG embassy: Avenida Andres
Bello 2800, Las Condes, Santiago mailing address: APO AA 34033 telephone:
[56] (2) 232-2600 FAX: [56] (2) 330-3710

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; design was based on the US flag

Economy Chile

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 5.4% in 2000. Unemployment remains stubbornly
high, however, putting pressure on President LAGOS to improve living
standards. The Argentine financial meltdown has put pressure on the
Chilean peso and is slowing the country's economic growth.  Meanwhile,
Chile and the US are conducting negotiations for a free trade agreement.

GDP:  purchasing power parity - $153 billion (2001 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:  3.1% (2001 est.)

GDP - per capita:  purchasing power parity - $10,000 (2001 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:  agriculture: 8% industry: 38% services: 54%

Population below poverty line:  22% (1998 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:  lowest 10%: 1.2%
highest 10%: 41.3% (1998)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:  57.5 (1996)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):  3.5% (2001 est.)

Labor force:  5.9 million (2000 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:  agriculture 14%, industry 27%, services 59%
(1997 est.)

Unemployment rate:  10.1% (2001)

Budget:  revenues: $17 billion expenditures: $17 billion, including
capital expenditures of $NA (2001 est.)

Industries:  copper, other minerals, foodstuffs, fish processing, iron
and steel, wood and wood products, transport equipment, cement, textiles

Industrial production growth rate:  2.5% (2001 est.)

Electricity - production:  39.577 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - production by source:  fossil fuel: 51.17% hydro: 46.36%
other: 2.47% (2000) nuclear: 0%

Electricity - consumption:  37.897 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:  0 kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:  1.09 billion kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products:  wheat, corn, grapes, beans, sugar beets,
potatoes, fruit; beef, poultry, wool; fish; timber

Exports:  $18.5 billion (f.o.b., 2001)

Exports - commodities:  copper, fish, fruits, paper and pulp, chemicals

Exports - partners:  US 17%, Japan 14%, UK 6%, Brazil 5%, China 5% (2000)

Imports:  $18 billion (f.o.b., 2001)

Imports - commodities:  consumer goods, chemicals, motor vehicles, fuels,
electrical machinery, heavy industrial machinery, food

Imports - partners:  US 19%, Argentina 16%, Brazil 7%, China 6%, Japan 4%

Debt - external:  $39.6 billion (2001)

Economic aid - recipient:  ODA, $40 million (2001 est.)

Currency:  Chilean peso (CLP)

Currency code:  CLP

Exchange rates:  Chilean pesos per US dollar - 651.90 (January 2002),
618.70 (2001), 535.47 (2000), 508.78 (1999), 460.29 (1998), 419.30 (1997)

Fiscal year:  calendar year

Communications Chile

Telephones - main lines in use:  2.603 million (1998)

Telephones - mobile cellular:  944,225 (1998)

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:
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 Service Providers (ISPs):  7 (2000)

Internet users:  1.75 million (2001)

Transportation Chile

Railways:  total: 6,702 km broad gauge: 2,831 km 1.676-m gauge (1,317
km electrified) narrow gauge: 117 km 1.067-m gauge (28 km electrified);
3,754 km 1.000-m gauge (37 km electrified) (2000 est.)

Highways:  total: 79,800 km paved: 11,012 km unpaved: 68,788 km (1996)

Waterways:  725 km

Pipelines:  crude oil 755 km; petroleum products 785 km; natural gas
320 km

Ports and harbors:  Antofagasta, Arica, Chanaral, Coquimbo, Iquique,
Puerto Montt, Punta Arenas, San Antonio, San Vicente, Talcahuano,

Merchant marine:  total: 47 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 669,670
GRT/931,647 DWT ships by type: bulk 11, cargo 4, chemical tanker 10,
container 5, liquefied gas 2, passenger 3, petroleum tanker 4, roll
on/roll off 5, vehicle carrier 3, includes a foreign-owned ship registered
here as a flag of convenience: Netherlands 1 (2002 est.)

Airports:  363 (2001)

Airports - with paved runways:  total: 70 over 3,047 m: 6 2,438 to 3,047
m: 6 1,524 to 2,437 m: 20 914 to 1,523 m: 22 under 914 m: 16 (2001)

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 (2001)

Military Chile

Military branches:  Army of the Nation, National Navy (including
naval air, coast guard, and marines), Air Force of the Nation, Chilean
Carabineros (National Police), Investigations Police

Military manpower - military age:  19 years of age (2002 est.)

Military manpower - availability:  males age 15-49: 4,104,197 (2002 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service:  males age 15-49: 3,034,912
(2002 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually:  males: 136,830
(2002 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure:  $2.5 billion (FY99)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP:  3.1% (FY99)

Transnational Issues Chile

Disputes - international:  Bolivia continues to demand a sovereign
corridor to the South Pacific Ocean since the Atacama region was lost
to Chile in 1884; territorial claim in Antarctica (Chilean Antarctic
Territory) partially overlaps Argentine and British claims; dispute with
Peru over the economic zone delimited by the maritime boundary

Illicit drugs:  a growing transshipment country for cocaine destined for
the US and Europe; economic prosperity has made Chile more attractive to
traffickers seeking to launder drug profits; imported precursors passed
on to Bolivia; domestic cocaine consumption is rising

This page was last updated on 1 January 2002

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