Chile

Introduction Prior to the coming of the Spanish in the 16th century, northern Chile was under Inca rule while Araucanian Indians (also known as Mapuches) inhabited central and southern Chile. Although Chile declared its independence in 1810, decisive victory over the Spanish was not achieved until 1818. In the War of the Pacific (1879-83), Chile defeated Peru and Bolivia and won its present northern regions. It was not until the 1880s that the Araucanian Indians were completely subjugated. A three-year-old Marxist government of Salvador ALLENDE was overthrown in 1973 by a military coup 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, reduced poverty rates by over half, 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.
History

About 10,000 years ago, migrating Native Americans settled in fertile valleys and along the coast of what is now Chile. The Incas briefly extended their empire into what is now northern Chile, but the area's barrenness prevented extensive settlement.

In 1520, while attempting to circumnavigate the earth, the Portuguese Ferdinand Magellan, discovered the southern passage now named after him, the Strait of Magellan. The next Europeans to reach Chile were Diego de Almagro and his band of Spanish conquistadors, who came from Peru in 1535 seeking gold. The Spanish encountered hundreds of thousands of Native Americans from various cultures in the area that modern Chile now occupies. These cultures supported themselves principally through slash-and-burn agriculture and hunting. The conquest of Chile began in earnest in 1540 and was carried out by Pedro de Valdivia, one of Francisco Pizarro's lieutenants, who founded the city of Santiago on February 12, 1541. Although the Spanish did not find the extensive gold and silver they sought, they recognized the agricultural potential of Chile's central valley, and Chile became part of the Viceroyalty of Peru.

Conquest of the land that is today called Chile took place only gradually, and the Europeans suffered repeated setbacks at the hands of the local population. A massive Mapuche insurrection that began in 1553 resulted in Valdivia's death and the destruction of many of the colony's principal settlements. Subsequent major insurrections took place in 1598 and in 1655. Each time the Mapuche and other native groups revolted, the southern border of the colony was driven northward. The abolition of slavery in 1683 defused tensions on the frontier between the colony and the Mapuche land to the south, and permitted increased trade between colonists and the Mapuche.

The drive for independence from Spain was precipitated by usurpation of the Spanish throne by Napoleon's brother Joseph in 1808. A national junta in the name of Ferdinand—heir to the deposed king—was formed on September 18, 1810. The junta proclaimed Chile an autonomous republic within the Spanish monarchy. A movement for total independence soon won a wide following. Spanish attempts to re-impose arbitrary rule during what was called the "Reconquista" led to a prolonged struggle.

Intermittent warfare continued until 1817, when an army led by Bernardo O'Higgins, Chile's most renowned patriot, and José de San Martín, hero of the Argentine War of Independence, crossed the Andes into Chile and defeated the royalists. On February 12, 1818, Chile was proclaimed an independent republic under O'Higgins' leadership. The political revolt brought little social change, however, and 19th century Chilean society preserved the essence of the stratified colonial social structure, which was greatly influenced by family politics and the Roman Catholic Church. A strong presidency eventually emerged, but wealthy landowners remained extremely powerful.

Toward the end of the nineteenth century, the government in Santiago consolidated its position in the south by ruthlessly suppressing the Mapuche during the Occupation of Araucanía. In 1881, it signed a treaty with Argentina confirming Chilean sovereignty over the Strait of Magellan. As a result of the War of the Pacific with Peru and Bolivia (1879–83), Chile expanded its territory northward by almost one-third, eliminating Bolivia's access to the Pacific, and acquired valuable nitrate deposits, the exploitation of which led to an era of national affluence. The Chilean Civil War in 1891 brought about a redistribution of power between the President and Congress, and Chile established a parliamentary style democracy. However, the Civil War had also been a contest between those who favored the development of local industries and powerful Chilean banking interests, particularly the House of Edwards who had strong ties to foreign investors. Hence the Chilean economy partially degenerated into a system protecting the interests of a ruling oligarchy. By the 1920s, the emerging middle and working classes were powerful enough to elect a reformist president, Arturo Alessandri Palma, whose program was frustrated by a conservative congress. Alessandri Palma's reformist tendencies were partly tempered later by an admiration for some elements of Mussolini's Italian Corporate State. In the 1920s, Marxist groups with strong popular support arose.

A military coup led by General Luis Altamirano in 1924 set off a period of great political instability that lasted until 1932. The longest lasting of the ten governments between those years was that of General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo, who briefly held power in 1925 and then again between 1927 and 1931 in what was a de facto dictatorship, although not really comparable in harshness or corruption to the type of military dictatorship that has often bedeviled the rest of Latin America, and certainly not comparable to the violent and repressive regime of Augusto Pinochet decades later. By relinquishing power to a democratically elected successor, Ibáñez del Campo retained the respect of a large enough segment of the population to remain a viable politician for more than thirty years, in spite of the vague and shifting nature of his ideology. When constitutional rule was restored in 1932, a strong middle-class party, the Radicals, emerged. It became the key force in coalition governments for the next 20 years. During the period of Radical Party dominance (1932–52), the state increased its role in the economy. In 1952, voters returned Ibáñez del Campo, now reincarnated as a sort of Chilean Perón, to office for another six years. Jorge Alessandri succeeded Ibáñez del Campo in 1958, bringing Chilean conservatism back into power democratically for another term.

The 1964 presidential election of Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei Montalva by an absolute majority initiated a period of major reform. Under the slogan "Revolution in Liberty", the Frei administration embarked on far-reaching social and economic programs, particularly in education, housing, and agrarian reform, including rural unionization of agricultural workers. By 1967, however, Frei encountered increasing opposition from leftists, who charged that his reforms were inadequate, and from conservatives, who found them excessive. At the end of his term, Frei had accomplished many noteworthy objectives, but he had not fully achieved his party's ambitious goals.

In 1970, Senator Salvador Allende Gossens, a Marxist physician and member of Chile's Socialist Party, who headed the "Popular Unity" (UP or "Unidad Popular") coalition of the Socialist, Communist, Radical, and Social-Democratic Parties, along with dissident Christian Democrats, the Popular Unitary Action Movement (MAPU), and the Independent Popular Action, won a plurality of votes in a three-way contest. Despite pressure from the government of the United States, the Chilean Congress, keeping with tradition, conducted a runoff vote between the leading candidates, Allende and former president Jorge Alessandri and chose Allende by a vote of 153 to 35. Frei refused to form an alliance with Alessandri to oppose Allende, on the grounds that the Christian Democrats were a workers party and could not make common cause with the oligarchs.

Allende's program included advancement of workers' interests; a thoroughgoing implementation of agrarian reform; the reorganization of the national economy into socialized, mixed, and private sectors; a foreign policy of "international solidarity" and national independence; and a new institutional order (the "people's state" or "poder popular"), including the institution of a unicameral congress. The Popular Unity platform also called for nationalization of foreign (U.S.) ownership of Chile's major copper mines.

An economic depression that began in 1967 peaked in 1970, exacerbated by capital flight, plummeting private investment, and withdrawal of bank deposits by those opposed to Allende's socialist program. Production fell and unemployment rose. Allende adopted measures including price freezes, wage increases, and tax reforms, which had the effect of increasing consumer spending and redistributing income downward. Joint public-private public works projects helped reduce unemployment. Much of the banking sector was nationalized. Many enterprises within the copper, coal, iron, nitrate, and steel industries were expropriated, nationalized, or subjected to state intervention. Industrial output increased sharply and unemployment fell during the Allende administration's first year.

Other reforms undertaken during the early Allende period included redistribution of millions of hectares of land to landless agricultural workers as part of the agrarian reform program, giving the armed forces an overdue pay increase, and providing free milk to children. The Indian Peoples Development Corporation and the Mapuche Vocational Institute were founded to address the needs of Chile's indigenous population.

The nationalization of U.S. and other foreign-owned companies led to increased tensions with the United States. The Nixon administration brought international financial pressure to bear in order to restrict economic credit to Chile. Simultaneously, the CIA funded opposition media, politicians, and organizations, helping to accelerate a campaign of domestic destabilization. By 1972, the economic progress of Allende's first year had been reversed and the economy was in crisis. Political polarization increased, and large mobilizations of both pro- and anti-government groups became frequent, often leading to clashes.

By early 1973, inflation was out of control. The crippled economy was further battered by prolonged and sometimes simultaneous strikes by physicians, teachers, students, truck owners, copper workers, and the small business class. A US-backed[27] military coup overthrew Allende on September 11, 1973. As the armed forces bombarded the presidential palace (Palacio de La Moneda), Allende reportedly committed suicide.[28][29][30] A military government, led by General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, took over control of the country. The first years of the regime were marked by serious human rights violations. On October 1973, at least 72 people were murdered by the Caravan of Death[31]. At least a thousand people were executed during the first six months of Pinochet in office, and at least two thousand more were killed during the next sixteen years, as reported by the Rettig Report. Some 30,000 were forced to flee the country, and tens of thousands of people were detained and tortured, as investigated by the 2004 Valech Commission. A new Constitution was approved by a highly irregular and undemocratic plebiscite characterized by the absence of registration lists, on September 11, 1980, and General Pinochet became President of the Republic for an 8-year term.
The Concertación presidents
Patricio Aylwin
Eduardo Frei

In the late 1980s, the regime gradually permitted greater freedom of assembly, speech, and association, to include trade union and limited political activity. The right-wing military government pursued free market economic policies. During Pinochet's nearly 17 years in power, Chile moved away from state involvement, toward a largely free market economy that saw an increase in domestic and foreign private investment, although the copper industry and other important mineral resources were not returned to foreign ownership. In a plebiscite on October 5, 1988, General Pinochet was denied a second 8-year term as president (56% against 44%). Chileans elected a new president and the majority of members of a two-chamber congress on December 14, 1989. Christian Democrat Patricio Aylwin, the candidate of a coalition of 17 political parties called the Concertación, received an absolute majority of votes (55%).[32]. President Aylwin served from 1990 to 1994, in what was considered a transition period.

In December 1993, Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, the son of previous president Eduardo Frei Montalva, led the Concertación coalition to victory with an absolute majority of votes (58%).[33] Frei Ruiz-Tagle was succeeded in 2000 by Socialist Ricardo Lagos, who won the presidency in an unprecedented runoff election against Joaquín Lavín of the rightist Alliance for Chile.[34] In January 2006 Chileans elected their first woman president, Michelle Bachelet Jeria, of the Socialist Party.[35] She was sworn in on March 11, 2006, extending the Concertación coalition governance for another four years.

Geography 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: 6,339 km
border countries: Argentina 5,308 km, Bolivia 860 km, Peru 171 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: 2.62%
permanent crops: 0.43%
other: 96.95% (2005)
Irrigated land: 19,000 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 922 cu km (2000)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 12.55 cu km/yr (11%/25%/64%)
per capita: 770 cu m/yr (2000)
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
Politics

Chile's Constitution was approved in a highly irregular national plebiscite in September 1980, under the military government of Augusto Pinochet. It entered into force in March 1981. After Pinochet's defeat in the 1988 plebiscite, the Constitution was amended to ease provisions for future amendments to the Constitution. In September 2005, President Ricardo Lagos signed into law several constitutional amendments passed by Congress. These include eliminating the positions of appointed senators and senators for life, granting the President authority to remove the commanders-in-chief of the armed forces, and reducing the presidential term from six to four years.[37]

Chileans voted in the first round of presidential elections on December 11, 2005. None of the four presidential candidates won more than 50% of the vote. As a result, the top two vote-getters—center-left Concertación coalition’s Michelle Bachelet and center-right Alianza coalition’s Sebastián Piñera—competed in a run-off election on January 15, 2006, which Michelle Bachelet won. She was sworn in on March 11, 2006. This was Chile’s fourth presidential election since the end of the Pinochet era. All four have been judged free and fair. The President is constitutionally barred from serving consecutive terms.

Chile's bicameral Congress has a 38-seat Senate and a 120-member Chamber of Deputies. Senators serve for 8 years with staggered terms, while Deputies are elected every 4 years. The current Senate has a 20-18 split in favor of pro-government Senators. The last congressional elections were held in December 11, 2005, concurrently with the presidential election. The current lower house—the Chamber of Deputies—contains 63 members of the governing center-left coalition and 57 from the center-right opposition. The Congress is located in the port city of Valparaíso, about 140 kilometers (84 mi.) west of the capital, Santiago.

Chile's congressional elections are governed by a binomial system that rewards large representations. Therefore, there are only two Senate and two Deputy seats apportioned to each electoral district, parties are forced to form wide coalitions and, historically, the two largest coalitions (Concertación and Alianza) split most of the seats in a district. Only if the leading coalition ticket out-polls the second-place coalition by a margin of more than 2-to-1 does the winning coalition gain both seats. In the 2001 congressional elections, the conservative Independent Democratic Union surpassed the Christian Democrats for the first time to become the largest party in the lower house. In 2005, both leading parties, the Christian Democrats and the UDI lost representation in favor of their respective allies Socialist Party (which became the biggest party in the Concertación block) and National Renewal in the right-wing alliance. The Communist Party again failed to gain any seats in the election. (See Chilean parliamentary election, 2005.)

Chile's judiciary is independent and includes a court of appeal, a system of military courts, a constitutional tribunal, and the Supreme Court. In June 2005, Chile completed a nation-wide overhaul of its criminal justice system.[38] The reform has replaced inquisitorial proceedings with an adversarial system more similar to that of the United States.

People Population: 16,284,741 (July 2007 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 24.1% (male 2,010,576/female 1,920,951)
15-64 years: 67.4% (male 5,480,703/female 5,492,988)
65 years and over: 8.5% (male 576,698/female 802,825) (2007 est.)
Median age: total: 30.7 years
male: 29.8 years
female: 31.7 years (2007 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.916% (2007 est.)
Birth rate: 15.03 births/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Death rate: 5.87 deaths/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2007 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.047 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.998 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.718 male(s)/female
total population: 0.982 male(s)/female (2007 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 8.36 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 9.09 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 7.59 deaths/1,000 live births (2007 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 76.96 years
male: 73.69 years
female: 80.4 years (2007 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.97 children born/woman (2007 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 70%, Evangelical 15.1%, Jehovah's Witness 1.1%, other Christian 1%, other 4.6%, none 8.3% (2002 census)
Languages: Spanish
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.7%
male: 95.8%
female: 95.6% (2002 census)
Government 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: name: Santiago
geographic coordinates: 33 27 S, 70 40 W
time difference: UTC-4 (1 hour ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins second Sunday in October; ends second Sunday in March
Administrative divisions: 15 regions (regiones, singular - region); Aisen del General Carlos Ibanez del Campo, Antofagasta, Araucania, Arica y Parinacota, Atacama, Biobio, Coquimbo, Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins, Los Lagos, Los Rios, 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 1989, 1991, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2003, and 2005
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 - in June 2005, Chile completed overhaul of its criminal justice system to a new, US-style adversarial system
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch: chief of state: President Michelle BACHELET Jeria (since 11 March 2006); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Michelle BACHELET Jeria (since 11 March 2006)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a single four-year term; election last held 11 December 2005, with runoff election held 15 January 2006 (next to be held in December 2009)
election results: Michelle BACHELET Jeria elected president; percent of vote - Michelle BACHELET Jeria 53.5%; Sebastian PINERA Echenique 46.5%
Legislative branch: bicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional consists of the Senate or Senado (38 seats; members elected by popular vote to 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 11 December 2005 (next to be held in December 2009); Chamber of Deputies - last held 11 December 2005 (next to be held in December 2009)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CPD 20 (PDC 6, PS 8, PPD 3, PRSD 3), APC 17 (UDI 9, RN 8), independent 1; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CPD 65 (PDC 21, PPD 22, PS 15, PRSD 7), APC 54 (UDI 34, RN 20), independent 1; note - as of 8 January 2008: Senate - seats by party - CPD 18, (PDC 5, PS 8, PPD 2, PRSD 3), APC 16 (UDI 9, RN 7), independent 4; Chamber of Deputies - seats by party - CPD 57 (PDC 16, PPD 19, PS 15, PRSD 7), APC 53 (UDI 33, RN 20), independent 10.
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 every three years by the 20-member court); Constitutional Tribunal
Political parties and leaders: Alliance for Chile ("Alianza") or APC (including National Renewal or RN [Carlos LARRAIN Pena] and Independent Democratic Union or UDI [Hernan LARRAIN Fernandez]); Coalition of Parties for Democracy ("Concertacion") or CPD (including Christian Democratic Party or PDC [Soledad ALVEAR], Socialist Party or PS [Camilo ESCALONA Medina], Party for Democracy or PPD [Sergio BITAR Chacra], Radical Social Democratic Party or PRSD [Jose Antonio GOMEZ Urrutia]); Communist Party or PC [Guillermo TEILLIER]; Humanist Party [Marilen CABRERA Olmos]
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: ABEDA, APEC, BIS, CAN (associate), CSN, FAO, G-15, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICCt (signatory), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAES, LAIA, Mercosur (associate), MIGA, MINUSTAH, NAM, OAS, OPANAL, OPCW, PCA, RG, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNIDO, Union Latina, UNMOGIP, UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCL, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Mariano FERNANDEZ
chancery: 1732 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
telephone: [1] (202) 530-4104, 530-4106, 530-4107
FAX: [1] (202) 887-5579
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, San Juan (Puerto Rico)
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Paul E. SIMONS
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 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
note: design was influenced by the US flag
Culture

Northern Chile was an important center of culture in the medieval and early modern Inca empire, while the central and southern regions were areas of Mapuche cultural activities. Through the colonial period following the conquest, and during the early Republican period, the country's culture was dominated by the Spanish. Other European influences, primarily English and French, began in the 19th century and have continued to this day.

The national dance is the cueca. Another form of traditional Chilean song, though not a dance, is the tonada. Arising from music imported by the Spanish colonists, it is distinguished from the cueca by an intermediate melodic section and a more prominent melody. In the mid-1960s native musical forms were revitalized by the Parra family with the Nueva Canción Chilena, which was associated with political activists and reformers, and by the folk singer and researcher on folklore and Chilean ethnography, Margot Loyola.

Chileans call their country país de poetas—country of poets. Gabriela Mistral was the first Chilean to win a Nobel Prize for Literature (1945). Chile's most famous poet, however, is Pablo Neruda, who also won the Nobel Prize for Literature (1971) and is world-renowned for his extensive library of works on romance, nature, and politics. His three highly individualistic homes, located in Isla Negra, Santiago and Valparaíso are popular tourist destinations.

Economy 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. Between 2000 and 2007 growth ranged between 2%-6%. Throughout these years Chile maintained a low rate of inflation with GDP growth coming from high copper prices, solid export earnings (particularly forestry, fishing, and mining), and growing domestic consumption. President BACHELET in 2006 established an Economic and Social Stabilization Fund to hold excess copper revenues so that social spending can be maintained during periods of copper shortfalls. This fund will surpass $20 billion by the end of 2007. Chile continues to attract foreign direct investment, but most foreign investment goes into gas, water, electricity and mining. Unemployment has exhibited a downward trend over the past two years, dropping to 7.8% and 6.7% at the end of 2006 and 2007, respectively. 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. Chile claims to have more bilateral or regional trade agreements than any other country. It has 57 such agreements (not all of them full free trade agreements), including with the European Union, Mercosur, China, India, South Korea, and Mexico.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $234.4 billion (2007 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $160.8 billion (2007 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 5.2% (2007 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $14,400 (2007 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 4.9%
industry: 49.7%
services: 45.4% (2007 est.)
Labor force: 6.97 million (2007 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 13.6%
industry: 23.4%
services: 63% (2003)
Unemployment rate: 7% (2007 est.)
Population below poverty line: 18.2% (2005)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 1.4%
highest 10%: 45% (2003)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 54.9 (2003)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 6.5% (2007 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 21% of GDP (2007 est.)
Budget: revenues: $44.44 billion
expenditures: $31.36 billion (2007 est.)
Public debt: 3.6% of GDP (2007 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: 5.6% (2007 est.)
Electricity - production: 47.6 billion kWh (2006)
Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 47%
hydro: 51.5%
nuclear: 0%
other: 1.4% (2001)
Electricity - consumption: 48.31 billion kWh (2005)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2005)
Electricity - imports: 2.152 billion kWh (2005)
Oil - production: 15,100 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - consumption: 238,000 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - exports: 31,510 bbl/day (2004)
Oil - imports: 222,900 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil - proved reserves: 150 million bbl (1 January 2006 est.)
Natural gas - production: 1.957 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 8.191 billion cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2005 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 6.234 billion cu m (2005)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 93.97 billion cu m (1 January 2006 est.)
Current account balance: $8.184 billion (2007 est.)
Exports: $66.43 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Exports - commodities: copper, fruit, fish products, paper and pulp, chemicals, wine
Exports - partners: US 15.6%, Japan 10.5%, China 8.6%, Netherlands 6.7%, South Korea 5.9%, Italy 4.9%, Brazil 4.8%, France 4.2% (2006)
Imports: $41.8 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)
Imports - commodities: petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, electrical and telecommunications equipment, industrial machinery, vehicles, natural gas
Imports - partners: US 15.6%, Argentina 12.6%, Brazil 11.8%, China 9.7% (2006)
Economic aid - recipient: $0 (2006)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $22.24 billion (31 December 2007 est.)
Debt - external: $49.18 billion (30 June 2007)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $84.07 billion (2006 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $28.5 billion (2006 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $174.6 billion (2006)
Currency (code): Chilean peso (CLP)
Currency code: CLP
Exchange rates: Chilean pesos per US dollar - 526.25 (2007), 530.29 (2006), 560.09 (2005), 609.37 (2004), 691.43 (2003)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Communications Telephones - main lines in use: 3.326 million (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular: 12.451 million (2006)
Telephone system: general assessment: privatization began in 1988; advanced telecommunications infrastructure; modern system based on extensive microwave radio relay facilities; fixed-line connections have dropped in recent years as mobile-cellular usage continues to increase, reaching a level of 75 telephones per 100 persons
domestic: extensive microwave radio relay links; domestic satellite system with 3 earth stations
international: country code - 56; submarine cables provide links to the US and to Central and South America; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) (2007)
Radio broadcast stations: AM 180 (8 inactive), FM 64, shortwave 17 (1 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: 745,375 (2007)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 7 (2000)
Internet users: 4.156 million (2006)
Transportation Airports: 358 (2007)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 79
over 3,047 m: 5
2,438 to 3,047 m: 8
1,524 to 2,437 m: 22
914 to 1,523 m: 25
under 914 m: 19 (2007)
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 279
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 12
914 to 1,523 m: 49
under 914 m: 216 (2007)
Pipelines: gas 2,550 km; gas/liquid petroleum gas 42 km; liquid petroleum gas 539 km; oil 1,002 km; refined products 757 km; unknown (oil/water) 97 km (2007)
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 (2006)
Roadways: total: 79,605 km
paved: 16,080 km (includes 407 km of expressways)
unpaved: 63,525 km (2001)
Merchant marine: total: 48 ships (1000 GRT or over) 719,668 GRT/1,016,892 DWT
by type: bulk carrier 10, cargo 6, chemical tanker 11, container 1, liquefied gas 2, passenger 4, passenger/cargo 2, petroleum tanker 8, roll on/roll off 1, vehicle carrier 3
foreign-owned: 1 (Argentina 1)
registered in other countries: 20 (Argentina 7, Brazil 1, Marshall Islands 4, Panama 8) (2007)
Ports and terminals: Coronel, Huasco, Lirquen, Puerto Ventanas, San Antonio, San Vicente, Valparaiso
Military Military branches: Army of the Nation, Chilean Navy (Armada de Chile, includes naval air, marine corps, and Maritime Territory and Merchant Marine Directorate (Directemar)), Chilean Air Force (Fuerza Aerea de Chile, FACh), Carabineros Corps (Cuerpo de Carabineros) (2008)
Military service age and obligation: 18-45 years of age for voluntary male and female military service, although the right to compulsory recruitment is retained; service obligation - 12 months for Army, 22 months for Navy and Air Force (2008)
Manpower available for military service: males age 18-49: 3,815,761
females age 18-49: 3,780,864 (2005 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 18-49: 3,123,281
females age 18-49: 3,128,277 (2005 est.)
Manpower reaching military service age annually: males age 18-49: 140,084
females age 18-49: 134,518 (2005 est.)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 2.7% (2006)
Transnational Issues 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; Chile rejects Peru's unilateral legislation to change its latitudinal maritime boundary with Chile to an equidistance line with a southwestern axis favoring Peru; territorial claim in Antarctica (Chilean Antarctic Territory) partially overlaps Argentine and British claims; the joint boundary commission, established by Chile and Argentina in 2001, has yet to map and demarcate the delimited boundary in the inhospitable Andean Southern Ice Field (Campo de Hielo Sur)
Illicit drugs: important transshipment country for cocaine destined for Europe; 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; significant consumer of cocaine