Chile Facts

Chile Facts and History

South America

Chile – a country of superlatives

Surely everyone will think of one or two little things about the República de Chile, for example that the country in the southwest of the South American continent extends like a snake over 4,300 kilometers from north to south and measures just 240 km at its widest point.

The geographical neighbors Pacific, Peru, Bolivia and Argentina are also known; and of course the capital Santiago de Chile, which is the undisputed political, cultural and economic center of the country and around 40% of all Chileans live in its vicinity.

But then it usually stops, and it is only just now that it starts to get exciting:

Because Chile is a land of wonders, special features and, above all, superlatives. On the one hand there is the Chilean Andes, one of the highest mountain ranges on earth. The absolute giant of these rocks is the Ojos del Salado in the Nevado Tres Cruces National Park, which not only rises to 6,880 meters, but is also the highest volcano in the world at this size. Today’s ghost town of Chuquicamata has the world’s largest open copper mine and the largest hole ever dug by a human. With the tranquil town of Puerto Williams, Chile also has the southernmost city in the world. And if that’s still not enough, we should remind you of the Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth: In certain areas there has not rained for about 400 years. And yet in the middle of the desert, in San Pedro de Atacama, there is a tourism center ready for the visitor – surrounded by an unreal landscape. Everything is normal in Chile. In addition, the long land delights with breathtaking glaciers, bubbling geysers, lavish fjords, colorful lakes and areas that make you think you are on the moon. And in the south of Chile or a little away from the mainland there is “Tierra del Fuego” (= Tierra del Fuego), the popular starting point for the Chilean Antarctica. Upstream there is the notorious Cape Horn on Isla Hornos, the southernmost point not only of the country, but of the entire continent. And one more thing: Potential visitors to the Republic of Chile will be happy, because the country is also the safest in South America,

Thanks to its enormous north-south extent and the remarkable differences in altitude, Chile has an enormous variety of climatic and vegetation zones. Many types of cacti grow in the country; There is wine, honey palms, araucarias, eucalyptus, Antarctic beech trees and of course the red Chilean wax bell (copihue), the country’s “national flower”. The gigantic fauna also knows no end: alpacas, fork deer, chinchillas, hummingbirds, llamas and the ones Camel-counting guanacos and vicuñas – Chile has it all. UNESCO has declared a total of eight areas to be biosphere reserves and three places in the country to be world cultural heritage sites, including the Chiloé National Park(2000), the historic quarter of the port city of Valparaíso (2003) and finally the Humberstone and Santa Laura saltpeter works in the already mentioned hostile Atacama Desert (2005). The national parks Torres del Paine and Rapa Nui (on Easter Island) are part of the world natural heritage.

The territory of the Chilean state, with its highly varied landscape, also includes Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean, the Salas y Gómez Island, the Juan Fernández, the Desventuradas, the Ildefonso and finally the Diego Ramirez Islands. And apart from that, the exceptional country also claims a certain part of the Antarctic for itself. While Easter Island is particularly famous for its stone sculptures (moais) and the Rapa Nui National Park, one of the Juan Fernández Islands has made an English writer a bestseller: On Isla Robinsón Crusoe, a certain Scottish sailor named Alexander Selkirk was abandoned in 1705 . The island’s loneliness for over four years gave Daniel Defoe the inspiration for his literary classic.

On February 27, 2010, the country was hit by one of the worst quakes in a very long time. The 8.8 magnitude quake had its epicenter at a depth of about 30 km in the Pacific – about 65 km. A tsunami with a height of approx. 8 m reached parts of the country’s coastline and caused severe devastation in some cases. Around 2 million houses were destroyed or damaged and around 800 people were killed.

Rescue the miners

On October 13, around 5:00 a.m. CEST, the first of the buried miners, 31-year-old Florencio Ávalos Silva, came back to the surface of the earth from a depth of around 622 m with the help of an escape capsule. The last person rescued was Luis Urzúa Iribarren, who came to light around 3:00 a.m. CEST. The 33 miners had been buried in the San Josè gold and copper mine in the Atacama Desert for 69 and 70 days, respectively. With the help of special drills, a rescue shaft could be drilled down to them. They were then transported individually up through this shaft with the help of a special capsule. All in all, it took around an hour to rescue one person, and later only 40 minutes. The President of Ciles, Sebastian Piñera, was there when the rescue began. Since there was a Bolivian among the rescued pals – he was the fourth rescued – the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, also came to the Atacama Desert. In view of this most spectacular rescue of buried miners, the whole country burst into jubilation, while almost the whole world – sometimes “life” – took part.

Name of the country República de Chile
Name in German Republic of Chile
Form of government Presidential Republic
Geographical location Chile extends for a length of 4,300 km on the west coast of South America and borders the Pacific.
National anthem Puro, Chile
Population about 18 million (Credit: Countryaah: Chile Population)
Ethnicities approx. 90% with European roots and mestizoapprox. 10% indigenous
Religions approx. 70% Catholic (see also Christianity)approx. 15% Protestants

approx. 8.5% without religious

affiliation approx. 1% Mormons as well as Jews and followers of shanism

Languages Spanish
Capital Santiago de Chile with around 6.5 million residents
Surface 756,626 km²
Highest mountain Ojos del Salado (6,843 m)
Longest river Río Lao (445 km)
Largest lake Lago General Correra (total area 1,850 km², Chile’s share 970 km²)
International license plate RCH
National currency Chilean peso
Time difference to CET – 5 h
Mains voltage, frequency 220 volts and 50 Hz
Internet TLD (Top Level Domain) .cl

Chile: history

Until about the year 1540

The north was populated as early as 13,000 BC. Around 10,000 BC. the colonization of the south began. During this period the Chincorro culture developed in Arica. The farmers lived in rural communities from the beginning of the era. Around 300 AD, the north of the country was under the influence of the Tiahuanaca culture (from the region of Lake Titicaca). This culture inexplicably disappeared and the country was conquered by the warlike Inca s in 1470 and their territory became part of the vast Inca Empire that stretched from the highlands of Peru and Ecuador through southern Colombia stretched far into Chile. The founder of the empire was the legendary Manko Cápac (around 1200-1230), who supposedly led his tribe from Lake Titicaca to Cusco. Under Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui (1438-1471) the empire expanded. Cuzco became the metropolis of a modern central state. The Inca invaded Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile. Their empire likely included more than 12 million people in over a hundred ethnic groups. Around 20,000 kilometers of paved roads and precise stone architecture testify to impressive technical and organizational achievements. The state structure was geared towards the priest – king, the son of the sun god was viewed. Under him stood the priestly caste and the nobility.

By 1818

According to Abbreviationfinder website, Diego de Almagro (1475 – 1538) failed with his expedition in 1538 on the north coast of Chile. Pedro de Valdivia (1500 – 1553) conquered the north of the country and founded the first cities: Santiago in 1541, La Serena in 1544, Concepcíon in 1550, and Valdivia in 1522. In 1543 the viceroyalty of Peru was founded with Lima as its capital and Chile was under the kingdom until 1778, in 1567 it was given the seat of an audienza (court of law) in Concepcíon. Unlike Peru, Chile did not have a source of wealth like the rich mineral resources of gold or silver like in Potosí(Bolivia) therefore it was one of the less attractive colonies with a functioning agriculture. Internal conflicts with the indigenous people, such as the uprising of the Arauka Indians (1598), which led to a standing army on the Bío-Bío River, determined the history of the country. The Mapuche Indians in the Guerra de Arauco prevented the Spaniards from taking the south of the country until the middle of the 19th century, when the tribe submitted to the Chilean military.

By 1900

The Argentine general José de San Martín (1778-1850) defeated the Spanish viceroy’s troops on April 5, 1818 in the plain south of Santiago. Chile proclaimed independence on February 12 of the same year. The first president was Bernardo O’Higgins. He was overthrown and went into exile in Peru in 1823. The second president, Ramón Freire y Serrano, was overthrown by Francisco Antonio Pinto Díaz in 1828. This introduced a liberal constitution and came into conflict with the conservative parties. After the Battle of Lircay on April 17, 1830, Diego Portales Palazuelos overthrew the government. Portales ruled until August 1831. In 1833 a strict presidential constitution was passed, which granted Chile a long period of stability (1833-1891). Chile became the economically strongest region in South America and benefited from the immigration of European settlers. In 1836 Peru was forced to form a confederation with Bolivia. From 1836-1839 there was war with Bolivia and Peru, which the Chileans win. The forced union was dissolved again in 1839 after the intervention of Argentina and Chile. In the saltpetre war against Peru in 1879, Chile conquered the resource-rich provinces of Arica, Tacna and Trapacá. The province of Tacna was only given back to Peru after a referendum in 1929. Chile thus had a world monopoly on saltpetre mining, which was essential for the production of gunpowder and agricultural fertilizers. An economic boom began.

Until 1973

In the first years of the 20th century before the First World War, German industry in particular developed processes for the artificial production of saltpeter and Chile fell into a serious economic crisis from which the country did not recover internally until 1964. The military rule of Carlos Ibáñez del Campo (1927-1931 and 1952-1958) stabilized the situation only briefly. The government of Eduardo Frei Montalva (1964-1970) introduced extensive reforms. Their program was a partial nationalization of foreign copper mining companies, social justice and land reform. In the 1970 elections, the left-wing alliance Unidad Popular under Salvador Allende won. With a socialist program, the winner of the new election began the nationalization of industry and banks as well as the continuation of land reforms. The US imposed a trade blockade and coincidentally, at the same time, copper prices on the world market fell. The economic crisis in Chile intensified, until 1973 Allende by a coup by the military has been replaced, which has been supported by the United States. He was killed in unexplained circumstances, as did 3,000 Chileans with him. The exact number of victims of the dictatorship can no longer be determined; it is probably much higher. Thousands of Chileans subsequently left the country.

Dictatorship and subsequent democratization

From 1973-1990 the dictatorship lasted under General Augusto Pinochet Urgate (1915-2006). The nationalizations were reversed and the unions lost their power. Pinochet brought economic advisors to Chile, those in Chicago with Milton Friedmanhad studied and took a neoliberal view. Privatization and deregulation brought capital to Chile. Gradually the economy recovered. Since the late 1970s, Chile’s economy has achieved above-average growth rates with unchanged poverty rates. When growth slowed during the economic crisis in the late 1980s, Pinochet lost a referendum to extend his term in office. He remained Chief of the Armed Forces until 1998. The previous constitutional amendments made him Senator for life with political immunity.

After free elections in 1989, the Christian Democrat Patricio Aylwin became president. After that, the Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle ruled from 1994 to 2000. In 1999 Pinochet was arrested while hospitalized in England on the basis of a Spanish arrest warrant. Several European countries demanded his extradition because Pinochet was responsible for the murder and torture of their citizens. Because of his poor health, he was released and returned to Chile. From 2000 to the socialist Ricardo was LagosPresident of the country. A truth and reconciliation commission set up in 2001 presented its final report at the end of August 2003 on the human rights violations that have been committed for 20 years. Since March 11, 2006, Michelle Bachlet, a woman and socialist, was the country’s new president. Pinochet died on December 10, 2006. In January 2010, the conservative politician Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera Echeñique (born 1949) won the run-off election for president with 52% of the vote against Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle. He took office on March 11, 2010.

Pinochet’s successors were:

  • Patricio Aylwin Azócar from 1990 to 1994 of the Christian Democratic Party
  • Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle from 1994 to 2000 of the Christian Democratic Party
  • Ricardo Lagos Escobar from 2000 to 2006 from the Socialist Party
  • Verónica Michelle Bachelet from March 11, 2006 to March 10, 2010 from the Socialist Party
  • Miguel Juan Sebastián Piñera Echeñique from the Renovación Nacional (National Renewal) party since March 11, 2010

Chile Facts