Form of Government: Republic
Area: 756 096 sq km
Population: 19 678 363 inhab. (estimate 2021)
Density: 26.03 inhab./sq km
Coordinates: lat. 17° - 56° S; long. 76° - 66° W
Capital: Santiago (administrative capital) 6 310 000 inhab. (2017); Santiago 8 242 459 inhab. (2021), urban agglomeration; Valparaíso (legislative capital) 296 655 inhab. (2017);
Currency: Chilean peso (100 centavos)
Human development index: 0.851 (rank: 43)
President and head of government: Sebastián Piñera (National Renewal), elected 17 December 2017, in office since 11 March 2018
Chamber of Deputies: seats based on the elections of 19 November 2017: Chile Vamos (centre-right coalition), 72; The Force of the Majority (centre-left coalition), 43; Broad Front (left coalition), 20; others, 20
Internet: www.ine.cl (Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas)
Member of APEC, Mercosur associated, OAS, OECD, PROSUR, UN, WTO
International license plate code RCH
International dialling code 0056
Travel vaccinations requirement none
Electricity (Voltage) 220
Driving side rigth
Internet code .cl
DST duration (start-end) mid October (Sunday 12)-mid March (Sunday 9)
Annual average temperature (°C) Santiago 14.7; Antofagasta 16.3; Punta Arenas 6.6
Average temperature in January/July (°C) Santiago 20.5/9; Antofagasta 20/13; Punta Arenas 10.5/1.5
Daily sunshine hours in June/December (average) Santiago 4/11; Antofagasta 6/9; Punta Arenas 3/8
Annual average precipitation (mm) Santiago 355; Antofagasta 8; Punta Arenas 450
Days of rainfall (annual average) Santiago 31; Antofagasta 0; Punta Arenas 75
Politics and current affairs
The referendum held on 25 October 2020, set out in the agreement dated 15 November 2019 following the widespread protests against economic inequality, which had begun the previous October, established reforms to the constitution by calling for a constituent assembly. The assembly members were elected on 15-16 May 2021 with a good result for independent candidates at the expense of the parties.
Chile is bordered by Peru to the north, Bolivia to the north-east and Argentina to the east (the border follows the line of the Andes Mountain Chain). The South Pacific Ocean lies off its west coast. The country forms a long, thin strip (4300 km), with an average width of 175 km, between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean.
The mountains, the highest peaks of which are Mount Aconcagua (6962 m) and Mount Ojos del Salado (6893 m), occupy about one third of the land. The main rivers are the Loa and the Biobío. The climate varies in different parts of the country. In the north, the climate is hot and dry, in the centre the climate is Mediterranean while, in the south, there is a cold, temperate oceanic climate.
Chile also owns the Desventuradas Islands (part of the Atacama region, 3.33 km², and including San Felix 1.6 km², San Ambrosio 1.5 km² and Gonzales 0.2 km²) and the Juan Fernández Islands (part of the Valparaíso region, 185 km², population 509, and including Robinson Crusoe Island, formerly Más a Tierra, 95 km², Alejandro Selkirk, formerly Más Afuera, 85 km², and Santa Clara, 5 km². Chile has also been granted sovereignty over the islands of Picton, Nueva and Lennox, in the Beagle Channel.
Chile became independent from Spain on 18 September 1818. In the 1925 Constitution, Chile assumed the character of a western-style democracy. During the following decades, Chile enjoyed a certain amount of political and social stability until 11 September 1973, when the left-wing government of Salvador Allende (in power since 1970) was toppled by a coup supported by the United States.
The military junta of General Augusto Pinochet closed down Parliament, dissolved the political parties, abolished the Constitution, abolished civil liberties and proceeded to install a regime based on ruthless repression. The first signs of a return to democracy appeared in 1980, when a popular vote approved a new Constitution (which came into force on 11 March 1981, was amended by referendum on 30 July 1989 and further altered later). On 8 October 1988, the committee governing elections rejected General Pinochet’s bid to stay in power for another eight years and at the subsequent 1989 elections the candidate for the united opposition, Christian Democrat Patricio Aylwin, was elected President of the Republic, putting an end to the long authoritarian regime.
The President of the Republic, who is elected by direct suffrage, is also head of the government; the new Constitution, which came into force on 17 September 2005, reduced the presidential mandate from six years to four, and it cannot be renewed. Legislative power lies in the hands of the National Congress, which comprises the Chamber of Deputies (155 members, elected for four years) and the Senate (43 members, who stay in office for eight years, half being renewed every four years). In 2015 an electoral reform was approved, increasing the representation of lesser parties and which will bring the number of members of the House to 150 and those of the Senate to 50. The Congress has been headquartered in Valparaíso since 1987.
Military service is almost completely voluntary. It lasts for one year in the army and for 22 months in the navy and the air force.
The legal system is based on Spanish Law.
Divorce became legal in Chile in 2004.
|Santiago||6 310 000||inhab.||2017|
|Puente Alto||568 106||inhab.||2017|
|Santiago||8 242 459||inhab.||2021|
|Population by age and gender (% - 2020)|
Recovery in 2021 was boosted by government tax stimulus, rising copper prices and the resumption of activity caused by an effective vaccination campaign. Revenues from exports, particularly copper, are partially stored in a sovereign fund used to finance the deficit in difficult periods. Considerable social inequality, linked with the lower social welfare inherited by the dictatorship, sparks nationwide unrest. The widespread use of credit makes families especially vulnerable to the economic slowdown.
|Agricultural prod. index (2004-06=100)||113.51||index||2016|
|Agricultural prod. index (2014-16=100)||103.12||index||2019|
|Active population||8 808 160||units||2020|
|Active population, Females||41.2||%||2020|
|Unemployment rate, Females||42.3||%||2020|
|Expenses||51 058 182||M LCU||2020|
|Revenues||40 134 874||M LCU||2020|
|Currency in circulation||14 804.079||BN LCU||2020|
|International reserves||39 166.118||M US$||2020|
Most of the large commercial estates, which constitute about three-quarters of the cultivated land and produce mainly for export, lie in the centre of Chile. In the north, smallholdings predominate, based on subsistence farming (growing legumes and cereals).
The most important sectors for export are fruit and vegetables (grapes, apples, kiwifruit, pears, plums, peaches and tomatoes), sugar beet and wine, a sector where quality is constantly on the increase. Although cereal crops are very important (wheat, barley, oats, maize and rice), harvests are not enough to meet the country’s requirements.
Forests are located in the south of the country and include several southern species of beech, including the Nothofagus obliqua and some conifers, e.g. the prized larch (Fitzroya cupressoides), as well as poplars and eucalyptus.
Livestock farming is practised extensively; llama and alpaca are kept on the plateaux for their highly-prized wool.
Fishing plays a vital role in the Chilean economy and fuels a fish oil and fish-flour industry. Anchovies, sardines, cod, mackerel and seafood are among the species fished the most. Fish farming produces salmon, sole, trout and shellfish.
|cereals, total||3 294.601||1000 t||2019|
|potatoes||1 162.568||1000 t||2019|
|roots and tubers, total||1 181.004||1000 t||2019|
|beans, dry||17.084||1000 t||2019|
|beans, green||44.868||1000 t||2019|
|grapes||2 701.588||1000 t||2019|
|sugar beet||1 313.368||1000 t||2019|
|flax fibre and tow||3.201||1000 t||2019|
|hemp tow waste||4.165||1000 t||2019|
|apples||1 621.321||1000 t||2019|
|citrus fruits||496.825||1000 t||2019|
|sweet potatoes||1.41||1000 ha||2019|
|beans, dry||10.248||1000 ha||2019|
|beans, green||2.632||1000 ha||2019|
|sugar beet||12.919||1000 ha||2019|
|flax fibre and tow||2.837||1000 ha||2019|
|hemp tow waste||4.381||1000 ha||2019|
|citrus fruits||20.968||1000 ha||2019|
|timber||63 717 133||m³||2019|
|cattle||3 108.089||1000 heads||2019|
|cattle and buffaloes||3 108.089||1000 heads||2019|
|pigs||2 566.782||1000 heads||2019|
|sheep||2 234.892||1000 heads||2019|
|asses and mules||22.209||1000 heads||2019|
|birds||147 554||1000 heads||2019|
|crustaceans and molluscs||548 908.684||t||2019|
|marine fishes||1 782 220.263||t||2019|
The main mineral produced is copper (with deposits at El Salvador, El Teniente, Chuquicamata and Andina, which have smelting and refining plants close by). Copper-processing generates various by-products including arsenic, molybdenum, rhenium and selenium. Other important minerals are gold (deposits at Andacollo and Marga Marga), silver (at La Serena, Taltal and Caracoles) and sulfur (on the slopes of Aucanquilcha). Molybdenum is mined at Valparaíso, Vallenar, Santiago and Coquimbo. Iron is mined at El Laco (Antofagasta), Carmen, Las Adrianitas, Cerro Imán, Bandurrias, Boquerón-Chañar, El Algarrobo (Atacama), El Pleito, El Romeral and El Dorado (Coquimbo). There are significant lithium reserves (Salar de Atacama). Deposits of nitrates (Chile saltpetre) are found in northern Chile (at Iquique, Antofagasta, Tocopilla and Taltal). By-products of sodium nitrate include borax (at Ascotán, Chilcaya and Pedernal) and iodine. Oil is extracted in the south of the country (at Cerro Manantiales in Tierra del Fuego). A 72-km pipeline long takes the crude oil to the port at Caleta Clarencia. Refineries are in operation at Concón, near Valparaíso, Hualpén, near Concepción, and at San Gregorio, in Patagonia. There are natural gas reserves at Pampa Larga, Punta Delgada and Chanarcillo, but most of the demand is satisfied by import. Coal is mined in the provinces of Arauco and Magallanes.
Much of the electricity is produced from thermal power-plants (fueled by coal, gas and oil) and hydro-electric schemes (power-plants on the rivers Biobío, Melado, Raja, Rapel and near Lake Colbún). Regasification plants are active in Mejillones and Quintero.
Industrial activities are mainly linked to the processing of the raw materials obtained from mining, farming and forestry. In addition to copper-working (at Chuquicamata, El Teniente-Caletones, Potrerillos, El Salvador, Paipote, Las Ventanas, Chagres and Antofagasta), iron and steel is important (at Huachipato, Talcahuano and Corral). The chemical industry produces caustic soda, sulfuric acid and nitrogenous fertilizers. At Calama explosives are made for the mining industry. At Santiago there are pharmaceutical plants. One of the main segments of the economy is textiles, using Chilean wool (at Tomé, Concepción, Valparaíso and Santiago) and imported cotton. There are rayon production plants at Llolleo and Quillota. Synthetic fibres are produced at San Joaquín and Santiago. There are tanneries and footwear factories at Valdivia, Santiago, Valparaíso, Concepción and Chillán. In the food-processing segment, the most important sectors are fish, frozen meat and conserves (at Punta Arenas, Ancud, Osorno, Valparaíso, Coquimbo, Antofagasta and Iquique), as well as sugar refining (at Chillán, Curicó, Linares, Los Ángeles) and beer. A plant for the production of automotive components is active in Los Andes. The paper industry is concentrated in Arauco, Chillán, Collipulli, Constitución, Laja, Licantén, Mariquina, Maule, Nacimiento, Valdivia. Cigarettes, tyres and cement are also produced (near Santiago, Valparaíso, Concepción, and at San Antonio, Curicó, Puerto Montt).
|coal, total||191.6||1000 t||2020|
|copper||5 772.6||1000 t||2020|
|iron ore||9 890.9||1000 t||2020|
|silver||1 575 794||kg||2020|
|- thermal||41 975.7||M kWh||2019|
|- hydro||20 665.26||M kWh||2019|
|- thermal||16 376.32||1000 kW||2018|
|- hydro||6 827||1000 kW||2019|
|total net generation||78 415.55||M kWh||2019|
|total installed capacity||27 637.02||1000 kW||2018|
|coke, metall.||519||1000 t||2019|
|copper||2 400||1000 t||2020|
|watches and clocks||2 924||no.||2016|
|petrol||3 947.7||1000 t||2014|
|caustic soda||115.6||1000 t||2016|
|nitrogen fertilizers||40.9||1000 t||2019|
|carpets||1 548.5||1000 m²||2016|
|cotton fabrics - m||7.55||M m||2016|
|beer of barley||867||1000 t||2018|
|cottonseed oil||0.8||1000 t||2018|
|cigarettes||20 027.1||M units||2016|
|cigars and cigarettes||20 027.1||M units||2016|
|chemical pulp||4 988||1000 t||2019|
|chemi-mechanical pulp||5 293||1000 t||2019|
|cement||4 200||1000 t||2018|
|sheet glass||368.5||1000 m²||2016|
|chemicals production||4 097.745||M US$||2017|
|food, beverages and tobacco production||12 024.108||M US$||2018|
Chile’s main trading partners are China, the USA, Brazil, Japan, South Korea and Argentina. Chile has signed free-trade agreements with the USA, China and many other countries and international organizations, including the EU and Mercosur.
Main exports (M US$ - 2017) refined copper 17 799, copper ores 17 404, fresh and preserved fruit 6 033, fresh and preserved fish 5 585, wood pulp 2 614, timber 2 233, chemicals 2 116, wine 2 018, molybdenum 986, iron ores 983, gold and silver 932, meat 813, vehicles and parts thereof 798, machinery 673, fruit & vegetable juices and preserves 610, fertilizers 565, iron and steel 535, paper 480, plastics 461, petroleum products 445, electric and electronic equipment 412
The Banco Central de Chile acts as Chile’s central bank. The main bank is the Banco del Estado, which is state-owned.
There is a stock exchange at Santiago.
|ores and metals||52.129||% of goods exports||2019|
|food products||26.193||% of goods exports||2019|
|China||25 107||M US$||2020|
|United States||9 384||M US$||2020|
|China||15 142||M US$||2020|
|United States||9 925||M US$||2020|
Tourism. The main attractions for tourists are the Andean ski resorts, its beaches, Tierra del Fuego and Easter Island.
|Expenditures||3 123||M US$||2019|
|Number of arrivals||4 518 000||units||2019|
The most important road in Chile is the Pan-American Highway (3369 km) between Arica and Puerto Montt. The Trans-Andean Highway, which connects Chile to Argentina, is very important for trade.
The railway network is based on Santiago; four lines cross the Andes (to Argentina and Bolivia) but are little used.
The port and airport networks are highly developed.
|Civil aviation, km flown||136 400 000||km flown||2009|
|Civil aviation, passengers carried||21 197.8||1000 units||2019|
|Broadband subscribers||180.947||per 1000 pop.||2019|
|Computers||141.1||per 1000 pop.||2005|
Social and welfare
Education and research.
With the approval of a law in 2013, pre-school education became mandatory and free of charge for children over 2 years, bringing the overall duration of mandatory education to 13 years.
The social security system (which dates from 1981) provides free hospital care for all citizens over the age of 60. The pension system was privatized in 1980 and reformed in 2008 to cover more people.
|Expected years of schooling||16.586||years||2018|
|Students, primary level||1 540 085||units||2018|
|Students, secondary level||1 522 145||units||2018|
|Social protection spending||24.837||% of total expenses||2019|
|Social protection spending||11.397||% of GDP||2019|
|Hospital beds||2.06||per 1000 pop.||2018|
|Physicians||2.59||per 1000 pop.||2018|
|HIV||0.5||% of adults||2019|
|Museums, visitors||2 540 078||units||2019|
|Research and development spending||0.356||% of GDP||2017|
|Access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking||100||%||2019|
|Access to electricity||100||%||2019|