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Flag of Chile
Map of Chile
Introduction Chile
A three-year-old Marxist government was overthrown in 1973 by a dictatorial military regime led by Augusto PINOCHET, who ruled until a freely elected president was installed in 1990. Sound economic policies, first implemented by the PINOCHET dictatorship, led to unprecedented growth in 1991-97 and have helped secure the country's commitment to democratic and representative government.
Geography Chile
Southern South America, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean and South Pacific Ocean, between Argentina and Peru
Geographic coordinates:
30 00 S, 71 00 W
Map references:
South America
total: 756,950 sq km
land: 748,800 sq km
note: includes Easter Island (Isla de Pascua) and Isla Sala y Gomez
water: 8,150 sq km
Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than twice the size of Montana
Land boundaries:
total: 6,171 km
border countries: Argentina 5,150 km, Bolivia 861 km, Peru 160 km
6,435 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200/350 NM
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
temperate; desert in north; Mediterranean in central region; cool and damp in south
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: 2.65%
permanent crops: 0.42%
other: 96.93% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
18,000 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
severe earthquakes; active volcanism; tsunamis
Environment - current issues:
widespread deforestation and mining threaten natural resources; air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions; water pollution from raw sewage
Environment - international agreements:
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Seals, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Nuclear Test Ban
Geography - note:
strategic location relative to sea lanes between Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (Strait of Magellan, Beagle Channel, Drake Passage); Atacama Desert is one of world's driest regions
People Chile
15,498,930 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 26.9% (male 2,127,696; female 2,033,201)
15-64 years: 65.6% (male 5,070,476; female 5,103,490)
65 years and over: 7.5% (male 482,846; female 681,221) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
1.09% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
16.46 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
5.59 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.99 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
9.12 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 76.14 years
female: 79.62 years (2002 est.)
male: 72.83 years
Total fertility rate:
2.13 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
0.19% (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
15,000 (1999 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
1,000 (1999 est.)
noun: Chilean(s)
adjective: Chilean
Ethnic groups:
white and white-Amerindian 95%, Amerindian 3%, other 2%
Roman Catholic 89%, Protestant 11%, Jewish NEGL%
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 95.2%
male: 95.4%
female: 95% (1995 est.)
Government Chile
Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Chile
conventional short form: Chile
local long form: Republica de Chile
local short form: Chile
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
13 regions (regiones, singular - region); Aisen del General Carlos Ibanez del Campo, Antofagasta, Araucania, Atacama, Bio-Bio, Coquimbo, Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins, Los Lagos, Magallanes y de la Antartica Chilena, Maule, Region Metropolitana (Santiago), Tarapaca, Valparaiso
note: the US does not recognize claims to Antarctica
18 September 1810 (from Spain)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 18 September (1810)
11 September 1980, effective 11 March 1981, amended 30 July 1989, 1993, and 1997
Legal system:
based on Code of 1857 derived from Spanish law and subsequent codes influenced by French and Austrian law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
note: Chile is in the process of completely overhauling its criminal justice system; a new, US-style adversarial system is being gradually implemented throughout the country
18 years of age; universal and compulsory
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Ricardo LAGOS Escobar (since 11 March 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Ricardo LAGOS Escobar (since 11 March 2000); note - the president is both the chief of state and head of government
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president
election results: Ricardo LAGOS Escobar elected president; percent of vote - Ricardo LAGOS Escobar 51.32%, Joaquin LAVIN 48.68%
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term; election last held 12 December 1999, with runoff election held 16 January 2000 (next to be held NA December 2005)
Legislative branch:
bicameral National Congress or Congreso Nacional consists of the Senate or Senado (49 seats, 38 elected by popular vote, 9 designated members, and 2 former presidents who serve six-year terms and are senators for life); elected members serve eight-year terms (one-half elected every four years) and the Chamber of Deputies or Camara de Diputados (120 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - CPD 20 (PDC 12, PS 5, PPD 3), UDI 9, RN 7, independents 2; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CPD 63 (PDC 24, PPD 21, PS 11, PRSD 6,), UDI 35, RN 22, independent 1
elections: Senate - last held 16 December 2001 (next to be held NA December 2005); Chamber of Deputies - last held 16 December 2001 (next to be held NA December 2005)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Corte Suprema (judges are appointed by the president and ratified by the Senate from lists of candidates provided by the court itself; the president of the Supreme Court is elected by the 21-member court); Constitutional Tribunal
Political parties and leaders:
Center-Center Union Party or UCCP [Francisco Javier ERRAZURIZ]; Christian Democratic Party or PDC [Patricia ALYWIN]; Coalition of Parties for Democracy ("Concertacion") or CPD - including PDC, PS, PPD, PRSD; Independent Democratic Union or UDI [Pablo LONGUEIRA]; National Renewal or RN [Alberto CARDEMIL]; Party for Democracy or PPD [Guido GIRARDI]; Radical Social Democratic Party or PRSD [Anselmo SULE]; Socialist Party or PS [Ricardo NUNEZ]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
revitalized university student federations at all major universities; Roman Catholic Church; United Labor Central or CUT includes trade unionists from the country's five largest labor confederations
International organization participation:
Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Andres BIANCHI
chancery: 1732 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and San Juan (Puerto Rico)
FAX: [1] (202) 887-5579
telephone: [1] (202) 785-1746
Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador William R. BROWNFIELD
embassy: Avenida Andres Bello 2800, Las Condes, Santiago
mailing address: APO AA 34033
telephone: [56] (2) 232-2600
FAX: [56] (2) 330-3710
Flag description:
two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red; there is a blue square the same height as the white band at the hoist-side end of the white band; the square bears a white five-pointed star in the center; design was based on the US flag
Economy Chile
Economy - overview:
Chile has a market-oriented economy characterized by a high level of foreign trade. During the early 1990s, Chile's reputation as a role model for economic reform was strengthened when the democratic government of Patricio AYLWIN - which took over from the military in 1990 - deepened the economic reform initiated by the military government. Growth in real GDP averaged 8% during 1991-97, but fell to half that level in 1998 because of tight monetary policies implemented to keep the current account deficit in check and because of lower export earnings - the latter a product of the global financial crisis. A severe drought exacerbated the recession in 1999, reducing crop yields and causing hydroelectric shortfalls and electricity rationing, and Chile experienced negative economic growth for the first time in more than 15 years. Despite the effects of the recession, Chile maintained its reputation for strong financial institutions and sound policy that have given it the strongest sovereign bond rating in South America. By the end of 1999, exports and economic activity had begun to recover, and growth rebounded to 5.4% in 2000. Unemployment remains stubbornly high, however, putting pressure on President LAGOS to improve living standards. The Argentine financial meltdown has put pressure on the Chilean peso and is slowing the country's economic growth. Meanwhile, Chile and the US are conducting negotiations for a free trade agreement.
purchasing power parity - $153 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
3.1% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $10,000 (2001 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 8%
industry: 38%
services: 54% (2000) (2000)
Population below poverty line:
22% (1998 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1%
highest 10%: 41% (1998) (1998)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
58 (1996)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
3.5% (2001 est.)
Labor force:
5.9 million (2000 est.)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 14%, industry 27%, services 59% (1997 est.)
Unemployment rate:
10.1% (2001) (2001)
revenues: $17 billion
expenditures: $17 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA
copper, other minerals, foodstuffs, fish processing, iron and steel, wood and wood products, transport equipment, cement, textiles
Industrial production growth rate:
2.5% (2001 est.)
Electricity - production:
39.577 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 51%
hydro: 46%
other: 2% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
37.897 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
1.09 billion kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
wheat, corn, grapes, beans, sugar beets, potatoes, fruit; beef, poultry, wool; fish; timber
$18.5 billion f.o.b. (2001)
Exports - commodities:
copper, fish, fruits, paper and pulp, chemicals
Exports - partners:
US 17%, Japan 14%, UK 6%, Brazil 5%, China 5% (2000)
$18 billion f.o.b. (2001)
Imports - commodities:
consumer goods, chemicals, motor vehicles, fuels, electrical machinery, heavy industrial machinery, food
Imports - partners:
US 19%, Argentina 16%, Brazil 7%, China 6%, Japan 4% (2000)
Debt - external:
$39.6 billion (2001) (2001)
Economic aid - recipient:
ODA, $40 million (2001 est.)
Chilean peso (CLP)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
Chilean pesos per US dollar - 651.90 (January 2002), 618.70 (2001), 535.47 (2000), 508.78 (1999), 460.29 (1998), 419.30 (1997)
Fiscal year:
calendar year
Communications Chile
Telephones - main lines in use:
2.603 million (1998)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
944,225 (1998)
Telephone system:
general assessment: modern system based on extensive microwave radio relay facilities
domestic: extensive microwave radio relay links; domestic satellite system with 3 earth stations
international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean)
Radio broadcast stations:
AM 180 (eight inactive), FM 64, shortwave 17 (one inactive) (1998)
5.18 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
63 (plus 121 repeaters) (1997)
3.15 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
7 (2000)
Internet users:
3.1 million (2002)
Transportation Chile
total: 6,702 km
broad gauge: 2,831 km 1.676-m gauge (1,317 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 117 km 1.067-m gauge (28 km electrified); 3,754 km 1.000-m gauge (37 km electrified) (2000 est.)
total: 79,800 km
paved: 11,012 km
unpaved: 68,788 km (1996)
725 km
crude oil 755 km; petroleum products 785 km; natural gas 320 km
Ports and harbors:
Antofagasta, Arica, Chanaral, Coquimbo, Iquique, Puerto Montt, Punta Arenas, San Antonio, San Vicente, Talcahuano, Valparaiso
Merchant marine:
total: 47 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 669,670 GRT/931,647 DWT
ships by type: bulk 11, cargo 4, chemical tanker 10, container 5, liquefied gas 2, passenger 3, petroleum tanker 4, roll on/roll off 5, vehicle carrier 3, includes a foreign-owned ship registered here as a flag of convenience: Netherlands 1 (2002 est.)
363 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
total: 71
over 3,047 m: 6
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 21
914 to 1,523 m: 23
under 914 m: 15 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 292
over 3,047 m: 1
2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
1,524 to 2,437 m: 11
914 to 1,523 m: 60
under 914 m: 216 (2002)
Military Chile
Military branches:
Army of the Nation, National Navy (including naval air, coast guard, and marines), Air Force of the Nation, Chilean Carabineros (National Police), Investigations Police
Military manpower - military age:
19 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
males age 15-49: 4,104,197 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
males age 15-49: 3,034,912 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
males: 136,830 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
$2.5 billion (FY99)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
3.1% (FY99)
Transnational Issues Chile
Disputes - international:
Bolivia continues to demand a sovereign corridor to the South Pacific Ocean since the Atacama region was lost to Chile in 1884; territorial claim in Antarctica (Chilean Antarctic Territory) partially overlaps Argentine and British claims; dispute with Peru over the economic zone delimited by the maritime boundary
Illicit drugs:
a growing transshipment country for cocaine destined for the US and Europe; economic prosperity and increasing trade have made Chile more attractive to traffickers seeking to launder drug profits, especially through the Iquique Free Trade Zone; imported precursors passed on to Bolivia; domestic cocaine consumption is rising

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003