Republic of Chile
República de Chile (Spanish)
|Motto: Por la razón o la fuerza|
("By reason or by force")
|Anthem: Himno Nacional de Chile|
("National Anthem of Chile")
and largest city
|Government||Unitary presidential republic|
|Juan Antonio Coloma|
|Juan Fuentes Belmar|
|Chamber of Deputies|
|18 September 1810|
|12 February 1818|
|25 April 1844|
|11 September 1980|
|756,096.3 km2 (291,930.4 sq mi) (37th)|
• Water (%)
|2.1 (as of 2015)|
• 2023 estimate
|24/km2 (62.2/sq mi) (198th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2022 estimate|
|$568.319 billion (45th)|
• Per capita
|GDP (nominal)||2022 estimate|
|$317.594 billion (45th)|
• Per capita
|Gini (2021)|| 46|
|HDI (2021)|| 0.855|
very high · 42nd
|Currency||Chilean peso (CLP)|
|Time zone||UTC−4 and −6 (CLT and EASTc)|
• Summer (DST)
|UTC-3 and −5|
|April to September|
|ISO 3166 code||CL|
Chile,[a] officially the Republic of Chile,[b] is a country located in western South America. It is the southernmost country in the world and the closest to Antarctica, stretching along a narrow strip of land between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. With an area of 756,096 square kilometers (291,930 sq mi) and a population of 17.5 million as of 2017, Chile shares borders with Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage to the south. The country also controls several Pacific islands, including Juan Fernández, Isla Salas y Gómez, Desventuradas, and Easter Island, and claims about 1,250,000 square kilometers (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica as the Chilean Antarctic Territory.[nb 2] The capital and largest city of Chile is Santiago, and the national language is Spanish.
Chile has a
There are various theories about the origin of the word Chile. According to 17th-century Spanish chronicler
Other theories say Chile may derive its name from a
Stone tool evidence indicates humans sporadically frequented the
The Incas briefly extended their empire into what is now northern Chile, but the
In 1520, while attempting to circumnavigate the globe, Ferdinand Magellan discovered the southern passage now named after him (the Strait of Magellan) thus becoming the first European to set foot on what is now Chile. 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 various cultures that 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 12 February 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 Spanish Empire.
Conquest took place gradually, and the Europeans suffered repeated setbacks. 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 by the Spanish crown in 1683 was done in recognition that enslaving the Mapuche intensified resistance rather than cowing them into submission. Despite royal prohibitions, relations remained strained from continual colonialist interference.
Cut off to the north by desert, to the south by the Mapuche, to the east by the Andes Mountains, and to the west by the ocean, Chile became one of the most centralized, homogeneous colonies in Spanish America. Serving as a sort of frontier garrison, the colony found itself with the mission of forestalling encroachment by both the Mapuche and Spain's European enemies, especially the English and the Dutch. Buccaneers and pirates menaced the colony in addition to the Mapuche, as was shown by Sir Francis Drake's 1578 raid on Valparaíso, the colony's principal port. Chile hosted one of the largest standing armies in the Americas, making it one of the most militarized of the Spanish possessions, as well as a drain on the treasury of the Viceroyalty of Peru.
The first general census was conducted by the government of
A 2021 study by
Independence and nation building
After these events, a movement for total independence, under the command of José Miguel Carrera (one of the most renowned patriots) and his two brothers Juan José and Luis Carrera, soon gained a wider following. Spanish attempts to re-impose arbitrary rule during what was called the Reconquista led to a prolonged struggle, including infighting from Bernardo O'Higgins, who challenged Carrera's leadership.
Intermittent warfare continued until 1817. With Carrera in prison in Argentina, O'Higgins and anti-Carrera cohort
Chile slowly started to expand its influence and to establish its borders. By the Tantauco Treaty, the archipelago of Chiloé was incorporated in 1826. The economy began to boom due to the discovery of silver ore in Chañarcillo, and the growing trade of the port of Valparaíso, which led to conflict over maritime supremacy in the Pacific with Peru. At the same time, attempts were made to strengthen sovereignty in southern Chile intensifying
Toward the end of the 19th century, the government in Santiago consolidated its position in the south by the
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, whose program was frustrated by a conservative congress. 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 political instability that lasted until 1932. Of the ten governments that held power in that period, the longest lasting 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 have often bedeviled the rest of Latin America).
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
In the 1970 election, Senator Salvador Allende of the Socialist Party of Chile (then part of the "Popular Unity" coalition which included the Communists, Radicals, Social-Democrats, dissident Christian Democrats, the Popular Unitary Action Movement, and the Independent Popular Action), achieved a partial majority in a plurality of votes in a three-way contest, followed by candidates Radomiro Tomic for the Christian Democrat Party and Jorge Alessandri for the Conservative Party. Allende was not elected with an absolute majority, receiving fewer than 35% of the votes.
The Chilean Congress conducted a runoff vote between the leading candidates, Allende and former president Jorge Alessandri, and, keeping with tradition, 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 right wing.
Allende's program included advancement of workers' interests, replacing the judicial system with "socialist legality", nationalization of banks and forcing others to bankruptcy, and strengthening "popular militias" known as MIR. Started under former President Frei, the Popular Unity platform also called for nationalization of Chile's major copper mines in the form of a constitutional amendment. The measure was passed unanimously by Congress. As a result, the Richard Nixon administration organized and inserted secret operatives in Chile, in order to swiftly destabilize Allende's government. In addition, US financial pressure restricted international economic credit to Chile.
The economic problems were also exacerbated by Allende's public spending which was financed mostly by printing money and poor credit ratings given by commercial banks. Simultaneously, opposition media, politicians, business guilds and other organizations helped to accelerate a campaign of domestic political and economical destabilization, some of which was backed by the United States. By early 1973, inflation was out of control. On 26 May 1973, Chile's Supreme Court, which was opposed to Allende's government, unanimously denounced Allende's disruption of the legality of the nation. Although illegal under the Chilean constitution, the court supported and strengthened Pinochet's soon-to-be seizure of power.
Pinochet era (1973–1990)
A military junta, led by General
A new Constitution was approved by a controversial
In the late 1980s, largely as a result of events such as the 1982 economic collapse
In December 1993, Christian Democrat
On 27 February 2010, Chile was struck by an 8.8 Mw earthquake, the fifth largest ever recorded at the time. More than 500 people died (most from the ensuing tsunami) and over a million people lost their homes. The earthquake was also followed by multiple aftershocks. Initial damage estimates were in the range of US$15–30 billion, around 10% to 15% of Chile's real gross domestic product.
Chile achieved global recognition for the successful rescue of 33 trapped miners in 2010. On 5 August 2010, the access tunnel collapsed at the San José copper and gold mine in the Atacama Desert near Copiapó in northern Chile, trapping 33 men 700 meters (2,300 ft) below ground. A rescue effort organized by the Chilean government located the miners 17 days later. All 33 men were brought to the surface two months later on 13 October 2010 over a period of almost 24 hours, an effort that was carried on live television around the world.
On 19 December 2021, a leftist candidate, the 35-year-old former student protest leader Gabriel Boric, won Chile's presidential election to become the country's youngest ever leader. On 11 March 2022, Boric was sworn in as president to succeed outgoing President Sebastian Pinera. Out of 24 members of Gabriel Boric's female-majority Cabinet, 14 are women.
On 4 September 2022, voters rejected overwhelmingly the new constitution in the constitutional referendum, which was put forward by the constitutional convention. The rejected new constitution, supported strongly by president Boric, proved to be too radical and left-leaning for the majority of voters.
A long and narrow coastal
Chile is among the longest north–south countries in the world. If one considers only mainland territory, Chile is unique within this group in its narrowness from east to west, with the other long north–south countries (including Brazil, Russia, Canada, and the United States, among others) all being wider from east to west by a factor of more than 10. Chile also claims 1,250,000 km2 (480,000 sq mi) of
Chile is located along a highly
The Chilean relief consists of the central depression, which crosses the country longitudinally, flanked by two mountain ranges that make up about 80% of the territory: the Andes mountains to the east-natural border with
To the south is the
Patagonia extends from within Reloncavi, at the height of parallel 41°S, to the south. During the
In the middle of the Pacific, the country has sovereignty over several islands of volcanic origin, collectively known as Insular Chile. The archipelago of Juan Fernandez and Easter Island is located in the fracture zone between the Nazca plate and the Pacific plate known as East Pacific Rise.
Climate and hydrography
Due to the characteristics of the territory, Chile is crossed by numerous rivers generally short in length and with low flow rates. They commonly extend from the
The flora and fauna of Chile are characterized by a high degree of endemism, due to its particular geography. In continental Chile, the
The native flora of Chile consists of relatively fewer species compared to the flora of other South American countries. The northernmost coastal and central region is largely barren of vegetation, approaching the most absolute desert in the world. On the slopes of the Andes, in addition to the scattered tola desert brush, grasses are found. The central valley is characterized by several species of cacti, the hardy
In southern Chile, south of the Biobío River, heavy precipitation has produced dense forests of laurels, magnolias, and various species of conifers and beeches, which become smaller and more stunted to the south. The cold temperatures and winds of the extreme south preclude heavy forestation. Grassland is found in Atlantic Chile (in Patagonia). Much of the Chilean flora is distinct from that of neighboring Argentina, indicating that the Andean barrier existed during its formation.
Some of Chile's flora has an Antarctic origin due to land bridges which formed during the Cretaceous ice ages, allowing plants to migrate from Antarctica to South America. Chile had a 2018 Forest Landscape Integrity Index mean score of 7.37/10, ranking it 43rd globally out of 172 countries.
Just over 3,000 species of fungi are recorded in Chile, but this number is far from complete. The true total number of fungal species occurring in Chile is likely to be far higher, given the generally accepted estimate that only about 7 percent of all fungi worldwide have so far been discovered. Although the amount of available information is still very small, a first effort has been made to estimate the number of fungal species endemic to Chile, and 1995 species have been tentatively identified as possible endemics of the country.
Chile's geographical isolation has restricted the immigration of faunal life so that only a few of the many distinctive South American animals are found. Among the larger mammals are the
There are many species of small birds, but most of the larger common Latin American types are absent. Few freshwater fish are native, but North American trout have been successfully introduced into the Andean lakes. Owing to the vicinity of the Humboldt Current, ocean waters abound with fish and other forms of marine life, which in turn support a rich variety of waterfowl, including several penguins. Whales are abundant, and some six species of seals are found in the area.
Government and politics
Chile's judiciary is independent and includes a court of appeal, a system of military courts, a constitutional tribunal, and the Supreme Court of Chile. In June 2005, Chile completed a nationwide overhaul of its criminal justice system. The reform has replaced inquisitorial proceedings with an adversarial system with greater similarity to that of common law jurisdictions such as the United States.
For parliamentary elections, between 1989 and 2013 the
The main existing political coalitions in Chile are:
- Apruebo Dignidad (Approve Dignity) is a left-wing coalition that has its origin in the 2021 Chilean Constitutional Convention election. After the success in that election, it held presidential primaries, in which Gabriel Boric (CS, FA) was the winner. It is formed by the coalition Frente Amplio (Broad Front) and the coalition Chile Digno (Worthy Chile) formed by the Communist Party of Chile and other left-wing parties.
- 1988 plebiscite, although it has used different names since then. It was the ruling coalition during the first and second government of Sebastián Piñera, (2010–2014) and (2018–2022).
In the National Congress, Chile Vamos has 52 deputies and 24 senators, while the parliamentary group of Apruebo Dignidad is formed by 37 deputies and 6 senators. Democratic Socialism is the third political force with 30 deputies and 13 senators. The other groups with parliamentary representation are the Republican Party (15 deputies and 1 senator), the Christian Democratic Party (8 deputies and 5 senators), the Party of the People (8 deputies) and the independents outside of a coalition (5 deputies and 1 senator).
Since the early decades after independence, Chile has always had an active involvement in foreign affairs. In 1837, the country aggressively challenged the dominance of Peru's port of Callao for preeminence in the Pacific trade routes, defeating the short-lived alliance between Peru and Bolivia, the Peru–Bolivian Confederation (1836–39) in the War of the Confederation. The war dissolved the confederation while distributing power in the Pacific. A second international war, the War of the Pacific (1879–83), further increased Chile's regional role, while adding considerably to its territory.
During the 19th century, Chile's commercial ties were primarily with Britain, a nation that had a major influence on the formation of the Chilean navy. The French, influenced Chile's legal and educational systems and had a decisive impact on Chile, through the architecture of the capital in the boom years at the turn of the 20th century. German influence came from the organization and training of the army by Prussians.
On 26 June 1945, Chile participated as a founding member of the United Nations being among 50 countries that signed the
Since its return to democracy in 1990, Chile has been an active participant in the international political arena. Chile completed a two-year non-permanent position on the UN Security Council in January 2005. Jose Miguel Insulza, a Chilean national, was elected Secretary General of the Organization of American States in May 2005 and confirmed in his position, being re-elected in 2009. Chile is currently serving on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors, and the 2007–2008 chair of the board is Chile's ambassador to the IAEA, Milenko E. Skoknic. The country is an active member of the UN family of agencies and participates in UN peacekeeping activities. It was re-elected as a member of the UN Human Rights Council in 2011 for a three-year term. It was also elected to one of five non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council in 2013. Chile hosted the Defense Ministerial of the Americas in 2002 and the APEC summit and related meetings in 2004. It also hosted the Community of Democracies ministerial in April 2005 and the Ibero-American Summit in November 2007. An associate member of Mercosur and a full member of APEC, Chile has been a major player in international economic issues and hemispheric free trade.
The Armed Forces of Chile are subject to civilian control exercised by the president through the Minister of Defense. The president has the authority to remove the commanders-in-chief of the armed forces.
The commander-in-chief of the
Admiral Julio Leiva Molina directs the around 25,000-person Chilean Navy, including 2,500 Marines. Of the fleet of 29 surface vessels, only eight are operational major combatants (frigates). Those ships are based in Valparaíso. The Navy operates its own aircraft for transport and patrol; there are no Navy fighter or bomber aircraft. The Navy also operates four submarines based in Talcahuano.
Air Force General (four-star) Jorge Rojas Ávila heads the 12,500-strong Chilean Air Force. Air assets are distributed among five air brigades headquartered in Iquique, Antofagasta, Santiago, Puerto Montt, and Punta Arenas. The Air Force also operates an airbase on King George Island, Antarctica. The Air Force took delivery of the final two of ten F-16s, all purchased from the U.S., in March 2007 after several decades of U.S. debate and previous refusal to sell. Chile also took delivery in 2007 of a number of reconditioned Block 15 F-16s from the Netherlands, bringing to 18 the total of F-16s purchased from the Dutch.
After the military coup in September 1973, the Chilean national police (Carabineros) were incorporated into the Defense Ministry. With the return of democratic government, the police were placed under the operational control of the Interior Ministry but remained under the nominal control of the Defense Ministry. Gen. Gustavo González Jure is the head of the national police force of 40,964 men and women who are responsible for law enforcement, traffic management, narcotics suppression, border control, and counter-terrorism throughout Chile.
In 1978 Chile was administratively divided into
Each region was designated by a name and a
|Administrative divisions of Chile|
|Arica y Parinacota||224 548||16 873,3||13,40||Arica|
|Tarapacá||324 930||42 225,8||7,83||Iquique|
|Antofagasta||599 335||126 049,1||4,82||Antofagasta|
|Atacama||285 363||75 176,2||3,81||Copiapó|
|Coquimbo||742 178||40 579,9||18,67|
|Valparaíso||1 790 219||16 396,1||110,75||Valparaíso|
|Santiago Metropolitan||7 036 792||15 403,2||461,77|
|Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins||908 545||16 387||54,96||Rancagua|
|Maule||1 033 197||30 296,1||34,49||Talca|
|Ñuble||480 609||13 178.5||36.47||Chillán|
|1 556 805||23 890,2||112,08|
|Araucanía||938 626||31 842,3||30,06||Temuco|
|Los Ríos||380 181||18 429,5||20,88||Valdivia|
|Los Lagos||823 204||48 583,6||17,06||Puerto Montt|
|Aysén del General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo||102 317||108 494,4||0,95||Coyhaique|
|Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica||165 593||132 297,2(1)||1,26||Punta Arenas|
|Chile||17 373 831||756 102,4(2)||23,24||Santiago|
The national flower is the
The coat of arms depicts the two national animals: the condor (Vultur gryphus, a very large bird that lives in the mountains) and the huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus, an endangered white tail deer). It also has the legend Por la razón o la fuerza (By reason or by force).
The flag of Chile consists of 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. The flag of Chile is similar to the Flag of Texas, although the Chilean flag is 21 years older. However, like the Texan flag, the flag of Chile is modeled after the Flag of the United States.
Chile has the highest degree of
Copper mining makes up 20% of Chilean GDP and 60% of exports. Escondida is the largest copper mine in the world, producing over 5% of global supplies. Overall, Chile produces a third of the world's copper. Codelco, the state mining firm, competes with private copper mining companies.
Sound economic policies, maintained consistently since the 1980s, have contributed to steady economic growth in Chile and have more than halved poverty rates.
The unemployment rate was 6.4% in April 2013.
As of November 2012[update], about 11.1 million people (64% of the population) benefit from government welfare programs,
Chile has signed
Chile's approach to foreign direct investment is codified in the country's Foreign Investment Law. Registration is reported to be simple and transparent, and foreign investors are guaranteed access to the official foreign exchange market to repatriate their profits and capital. The Chilean Government has formed a Council on Innovation and Competition, hoping to bring in additional FDI to new parts of the economy.
Chile is rich in mineral resources, especially copper and lithium. It is thought that due to the importance of lithium for batteries for electric vehicles and stabilization of electric grids with large proportions of intermittent renewables in the electricity mix, Chile could be strengthened geopolitically. However, this perspective has also been criticized for underestimating the power of economic incentives for expanded production in other parts of the world.
The country was, in 2019, the world's largest producer of copper, iodine and rhenium, the second largest producer of lithium and molybdenum, the sixth largest producer of silver, the seventh largest producer of salt, the eighth largest producer of potash, the thirteenth producer of sulfur and the thirteenth producer of iron ore in the world. The country also has considerable gold production: between 2006 and 2017, the country produced annual amounts ranging from 35.9 tonnes in 2017 to 51.3 tonnes in 2013.
Chile is the world's second largest producer of salmon, after Norway. In 2019, it was responsible for 26% of the global supply. In wine, Chile is usually among the 10 largest producers in the world. In 2018 it was in 6th place.
Tourism in Chile has experienced sustained growth over the last few decades. In 2005, tourism grew by 13.6%, generating more than 4.5 billion dollars of which 1.5 billion was attributed to foreign tourists. According to the National Service of Tourism (Sernatur), 2 million people a year visit the country. Most of these visitors come from other countries in the American continent, mainly Argentina; followed by a growing number from the United States, Europe, and Brazil with a growing number of Asians from South Korea and China.
The main attractions for tourists are places of natural beauty situated in the extreme zones of the country:
The main tourist sites in the south are national parks (the most popular is
For locals, tourism is concentrated mostly in the summer (December to March), and mainly in the coastal beach towns. Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, La Serena and Coquimbo are the main summer centers in the north, and Pucón on the shores of Lake Villarrica is the main center in the south. Because of its proximity to Santiago, the coast of the Valparaíso Region, with its many beach resorts, receives the largest number of tourists. Viña del Mar, Valparaíso's more affluent northern neighbor, is popular because of its beaches, casino, and its annual song festival, the most important musical event in Latin America. Pichilemu in the O'Higgins Region is widely known as South America's "best surfing spot" according to Fodor's.
In November 2005 the government launched a campaign under the brand "Chile: All Ways Surprising" intended to promote the country internationally for both business and tourism. Museums in Chile such as the Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts built in 1880, feature works by Chilean artists.
Chile is home to the world-renowned
Due to Chile's topography a functioning transport network is vital to its economy. In 2020, Chile had 85,984 km (53,428 mi) of
Chile has a total of 372 runways (62 paved and 310 unpaved). Important airports in Chile include Chacalluta International Airport (Arica), Diego Aracena International Airport (Iquique), Andrés Sabella Gálvez International Airport (Antofagasta), Carriel Sur International Airport (Concepción), El Tepual International Airport (Puerto Montt), Presidente Carlos Ibáñez del Campo International Airport (Punta Arenas), La Araucanía International Airport (Temuco), Mataveri International Airport (Easter Island), the most remote airport in the world, as defined by distance to another airport, and the Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (Santiago) with a traffic of 12,105,524 passengers in 2011. Santiago is headquarters of Latin America's largest airline holding company and Chilean flag carrier LATAM Airlines.
Internet and telecommunications
Chile has a telecommunication system which covers much of the country, including Chilean insular and Antarctic bases. Privatization of the telephone system began in 1988; Chile has one of the most advanced telecommunications infrastructure in South America with a modern system based on extensive microwave radio relay facilities and a domestic satellite system with 3 earth stations. In 2012, there were 3.276 million main lines in use and 24.13 million mobile cellular telephone subscribers.
According to a 2012 database of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), 61.42% of the Chilean population uses the internet, making Chile the country with the highest internet penetration in South America.
The Chilean internet country code is "
Chile's total energy supply (TES) was 23.0GJ per capita in 2020. Energy in Chile is dominated by fossil fuels, with coal, oil and gas accounting for 73.4% of the total primary energy. Biofuels and waste account for another 20.5% of primary energy supply, with the rest sourced from hydro and other renewables.
Electricity consumption was 68.90 TWh in 2014. Main sources of electricity in Chile are
In 2021, Chile had, in terms of installed renewable electricity, 6,807 MW in hydropower (28th largest in the world), 3,137 MW in wind power (28th largest in the world), 4,468 MW in solar (22nd largest in the world), and 375 MW in biomass. As the Atacama Desert has the highest solar irradiation in the world, and Chile has always had problems obtaining oil, gas and coal (the country basically does not produce them, so it has to import them), renewable energy is seen as the solution for the country's shortcomings in the energy field.
Chile's 2017 census reported a population of 17,574,003. Its rate of population growth has been decreasing since 1990, due to a declining birth rate. By 2050 the population is expected to reach approximately 20.2 million people.
Ancestry and ethnicity
Mexican professor Francisco Lizcano, of the
In 1984, a study called Sociogenetic Reference Framework for Public Health Studies in Chile, from the Revista de Pediatría de Chile determined an ancestry of 67.9% European, and 32.1% Native American.
A public health booklet from the University of Chile states that 64% of the population is of Caucasian origin; "predominantly White" Mestizos are estimated to amount to a total of 35%, while Native Americans (Amerindians) comprise the remaining 5%.
Despite the genetic considerations, many Chileans, if asked, would self-identify as White. The 2011 Latinobarómetro survey asked respondents in Chile what race they considered themselves to belong to. Most answered "White" (59%), while 25% said "Mestizo" and 8% self-classified as "indigenous". A 2002 national poll revealed that a majority of Chileans believed they possessed some (43.4%) or much (8.3%) "indigenous blood", while 40.3% responded that they had none.
Chile is one of 22 countries to have signed and ratified the only binding international law concerning indigenous peoples, the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989. It was adopted in 1989 as the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169. Chile ratified it in 2008. A Chilean court decision in November 2009, considered to be a landmark ruling on indigenous rights, made use of the convention. The Supreme Court decision on Aymara water rights upheld rulings by both the Pozo Almonte tribunal and the Iquique Court of Appeals and marks the first judicial application of ILO Convention 169 in Chile.
Most of the immigrants to Chile during the 19th and 20th centuries came from France,
About 85% of the country's population lives in urban areas, with 40% living in Greater Santiago. The largest agglomerations according to the 2002 census are Greater Santiago with 5.6 million people, Greater Concepción with 861,000 and Greater Valparaíso with 824,000.
Largest cities or towns in Chile
|Santiago Metropolitan Region||5,428,590|
Greater La Serena
|2||Greater Valparaíso||Valparaíso Region||803,683|
|3||Greater Concepción||Biobío Region||666,381|
|4||Greater La Serena||Coquimbo Region||296,253|
|6||Greater Temuco||Araucanía Region||260,878|
|7||Rancagua conurbation||O'Higgins Region||236,363|
Arica and Parinacota Region
|10||Chillán conurbation||Ñuble Region||165,528|
By 2015, the major religion in Chile remained Christianity (68%), with an estimated 55% of Chileans belonging to the Roman Catholic church, 13% to various Evangelical churches, and just 7% adhering to any other religion. Agnostics and atheist were estimated at 25% of the population.
Chile has a Baháʼí religious community, and is home to the Baháʼí mother temple, or continental House of Worship, for Latin America. Completed in 2016, it serves as a space for people of all religions and backgrounds to gather, meditate, reflect, and worship. It is formed from cast glass and translucent marble and has been described as innovative in its architectural style.
The Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of religion, and other laws and policies contribute to generally free religious practice. The law at all levels fully protects this right against abuse by either governmental or private actors. Church and state are officially separate in Chile. A 1999 law on religion prohibits religious discrimination. However, the Roman Catholic church for mostly historical and social reasons enjoys a privileged status and occasionally receives preferential treatment. Government officials attend Roman Catholic events as well as major Evangelical and Jewish ceremonies.
The Chilean government treats the religious holidays of Christmas, Good Friday, the Feast of the Virgin of Carmen, the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the Feast of the Assumption, All Saints' Day, and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception as national holidays. Recently, the government declared 31 October, Reformation Day, to be an additional national holiday, in honor of the Evangelical churches of the country.
The Spanish spoken in Chile is distinctively accented and quite unlike that of neighboring South American countries because final syllables are often dropped, and some consonants have a soft pronunciation.[clarification needed] Accent varies only very slightly from north to south; more noticeable are the differences in accent based on social class or whether one lives in the city or the country. That the Chilean population was largely formed in a small section at the center of the country and then migrated in modest numbers to the north and south helps explain this relative lack of differentiation, which was maintained by the national reach of radio, and now television, which also helps to diffuse and homogenize colloquial expressions.
There are several indigenous languages spoken in Chile:
German is still spoken to some extent in southern Chile, either in small countryside pockets or as a second language among the communities of larger cities.
Through initiatives such as the English Opens Doors Program, the government made English mandatory for students in fifth grade and above in public schools. Most private schools in Chile start teaching English from kindergarten. Common English words have been absorbed and appropriated into everyday Spanish speech.
The Ministry of Health (Minsal) is the cabinet-level administrative office in charge of planning, directing, coordinating, executing, controlling and informing the public health policies formulated by the President of Chile. The National Health Fund (Fonasa), created in 1979, is the financial entity entrusted to collect, manage and distribute state funds for health in Chile. It is funded by the public. All employees pay 7% of their monthly income to the fund.
Fonasa is part of the NHSS and has executive power through the
Secondary education is divided into two parts: During the first two years, students receive a general education. Then, they choose a branch: scientific humanistic education, artistic education, or technical and professional education. Secondary school ends two years later on the acquirement of a certificate (licencia de enseñanza media).
Chilean education is segregated by wealth in a three-tiered system – the quality of the schools reflects socioeconomic backgrounds:
- city schools (colegios municipales) that are mostly free and have the worst education results, mostly attended by poor students;
- subsidized schools that receive some money from the government which can be supplemented by fees paid by the student's family, which are attended by mid-income students and typically get mid-level results; and
- entirely private schools that consistently get the best results. Many private schools charge attendance fees of 0,5 to 1 median household income.
Upon successful graduation of secondary school, students may continue into
From the period between early agricultural settlements and up to the late pre-Columbian period, northern Chile was a region of Andean culture that was influenced by altiplano traditions spreading to the coastal valleys of the north, while southern regions were areas of Mapuche cultural activities. Throughout 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, French, and German began in the 19th century and have continued to this day. German migrants influenced the Bavarian style rural architecture and cuisine in the south of Chile in cities such as Valdivia, Frutillar, Puerto Varas, Osorno, Temuco, Puerto Octay, Llanquihue, Faja Maisan, Pitrufquén, Victoria, Pucón and Puerto Montt.
Music and dance
Music in Chile ranges from folkloric, popular and classical music. Its large geography generates different musical styles in the north, center and south of the country, including also Easter Island and Mapuche music. 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 1950s to the 1970s, native folk musical forms were revitalized with the Nueva canción Chilena movement lead by composers such as Violeta Parra and Raúl de Ramón, which was also associated with political activists and reformers such as Víctor Jara, Inti-Illimani, and Quilapayún. Also, many Chilean rock bands like Los Jaivas, Los Prisioneros, La Ley, Los Tres and Los Bunkers have reached international success, some incorporating strong folk influences, such as Los Jaivas. In February, annual music and comedy festivals are held in Viña del Mar.
Chile is a country of poets. Gabriela Mistral was the first Latin American to receive a Nobel Prize in Literature (1945). Chile's most famous poet is Pablo Neruda, who received the Nobel Prize for Literature (1971) and is world-renowned for his extensive library of works on romance, nature, and politics. His three highly personalized homes in Isla Negra, Santiago and Valparaíso are popular tourist destinations.
Among the list of other Chilean poets are Carlos Pezoa Véliz, Vicente Huidobro, Gonzalo Rojas, Pablo de Rokha, Nicanor Parra, Ivonne Coñuecar and Raúl Zurita. Isabel Allende is the best-selling Chilean novelist, with 51 million of her novels sold worldwide. Novelist José Donoso's novel The Obscene Bird of Night is considered by critic Harold Bloom to be one of the canonical works of 20th-century Western literature. Another internationally recognized Chilean novelist and poet is Roberto Bolaño whose translations into English have had an excellent reception from the critics.
The folklore of Chile, cultural and demographic characteristics of the country, is the result of the mixture of Spanish and Amerindian elements that occurred during the colonial period. Due to cultural and historical reasons, they are classified and distinguished four major areas in the country: northern areas, central, southern and south. Most of the traditions of the culture of Chile have a festive purpose, but some, such as dances and ceremonies, have religious components. 
Chilean mythology is the mythology and beliefs of the Folklore of Chile. This includes
Chile's most popular sport is association football. Chile has appeared in nine FIFA World Cups which includes hosting the 1962 FIFA World Cup where the national football team finished third. Other results achieved by the national football team include two Copa América titles (2015 and 2016), two runners-up positions, one silver and two bronze medals at the Pan American Games, a bronze medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics and two third places finishes in the FIFA under-17 and under-20 youth tournaments. The top league in the Chilean football league system is the Chilean Primera División, which is named by the IFFHS as the ninth strongest national football league in the world.
The main football clubs are Colo-Colo, Universidad de Chile and Universidad Católica. Colo-Colo is the country's most successful football club, having both the most national and international championships, including the coveted Copa Libertadores South American club tournament. Universidad de Chile was the last international champion (Copa Sudamericana 2011).
Tennis is Chile's most successful sport. Its national team won the World Team Cup clay tournament twice (2003 & 2004), and played the Davis Cup final against Italy in 1976. At the 2004 Summer Olympics the country captured gold and bronze in men's singles and gold in men's doubles (Nicolás Massú obtained two gold medals). Marcelo Ríos became the first Latin American man to reach the number one spot in the ATP singles rankings in 1998. Anita Lizana won the US Open in 1937, becoming the first woman from Latin America to win a Grand Slam tournament. Luis Ayala was twice a runner-up at the French Open and both Ríos and Fernando González reached the Australian Open men's singles finals. González also won a silver medal in singles at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
At the Summer Olympic Games Chile boasts a total of two gold medals (tennis), seven silver medals (athletics, equestrian, boxing, shooting and tennis) and four bronze medals (tennis, boxing and football). In 2012, Chile won its first Paralympic Games medal (gold in Athletics).
Rodeo is the country's national sport and is practiced in the more rural areas of the nation. A sport similar to hockey called chueca was played by the Mapuche people during the Spanish conquest. Skiing and snowboarding are practiced at ski centers located in the Central Andes, and in southern ski centers near to cities as Osorno, Puerto Varas, Temuco and Punta Arenas. Surfing is popular at some coastal towns. Polo is professionally practiced within Chile, with the country achieving top prize in the 2008 and 2015 World Polo Championship.
In 1999 Cultural Heritage Day was established as a way to honour and commemorate Chile's cultural heritage. It is an official national event celebrated in May every year.
- In Chilean Spanish, pronunciation ranges from [ˈʃi.leː] ~ [ˈt͡siːle] on a spectrum from lower to upper classes, respectively, the former being a somewhat-stigmatized basilect. See the Sample section for an IPA transcribed text in a lower-class form of the dialect.
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derived, it is said, from the Quichua chiri, cold, or tchili, snowThis article incorporates text from a publication now in the
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