Background: Prior to the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, the Inca ruled northern Chile while the indigenous Mapuche 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 Mapuche Indians were completely subjugated. After a series of elected governments, the 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.
Location: Southern South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Argentina and Peru
Area land: 743,812 sq km
Area water: 12,290 sq km
Coastline: 6,435 km
Country name conventional long form: Republic of Chile
Country name conventional short form: Chile
Country name former: Republic of Chile
Population: 16,888,760 (July 2011 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 22.3% (male 1,928,210/female 1,840,839); 15-64 years: 68.1% (male 5,751,091/female 5,744,014); 65 years and over: 9.6% (male 680,450/female 944,156) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: 0.836% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 14.33 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 5.97 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.72 male(s)/female; total population: 0.98 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 7.34 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 8.1 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 6.55 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.7 years; male: 74.44 years; female: 81.13 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 1.88 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 0.4% (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: 40,000 (2009 est.);
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA;
Nationality: noun: Chilean(s); adjective: Chilean;
Ethnic groups: white and white-Amerindian 95.4%, Mapuche 4%, other indigenous groups 0.6% (2002 census);
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 (official), Mapudungun, German, English;
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 95.7%; male: 95.8%; female: 95.6% (2002 census);
GDP (purchasing power parity): $260 billion (2010 est.); $246.9 billion (2009 est.); $250.6 billion (2008 est.);
GDP (official exchange rate): $199.2 billion (2010 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: 5.3% (2010 est.); -1.5% (2009 est.); 3.7% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $15,500 (2010 est.); $14,900 (2009 est.); $15,200 (2008 est.);
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 5.6%; industry: 40.5%; services: 53.9% (2009 est.);
Population below poverty line: 11.5% (2009);
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 1.6%; highest 10%: 41.7% (2006);
Labor force: 7.58 million (2010 est.);
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 13.2%; industry: 23%; services: 63.9% (2005);
Unemployment rate: 8.7% (2010 est.); 9.6% (2009 est.);
Budget: revenues: $40.97 billion; expenditures: $45.07 billion (2010 est.);
Industries: copper, lithium, other minerals, foodstuffs, fish processing, iron and steel, wood and wood products, transport equipment, cement, textiles;
Industrial production growth rate: 3.2% (2010 est.);
Electricity - production: 60.6 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 57.29 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2008 est.);
Electricity - imports: 1.628 billion kWh (2007 est.);
Statistics: CIA World Factbook.
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(Lifestyle magazine), Santiago
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A human rights collective called Londres 38 is pushing to release archives related to the Pinochet dictatorship that are still being kept secret.
Social spending policies that have helped reduce inequality and poverty in Latin America for the past decade should be strengthened and regionalized.
In the valley of northern Chile, said to be the magnetic center of the Earth, travelers go to gaze at the stars through one of the clearest skies in the world.
Mapuche political leaders are taking the logic of land reform one step further and demanding regional autonomy for Wallmapu, as Mapudungun speakers call the Araucanía.