The Republic of Chile is a nation located in South America. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south. With Ecuador, it is one of two countries in South America which do not border Brazil. Chilean territory includes the Pacific islands of Juan Fernández, Salas y Gómez, Desventuradas and Easter Island. Chile also claims about 1,250,000 sq km of Antarctica.
Chile was the only country in South America that did not suffer a dictatorship during the 20th century, specially during the Cold War.
Today, Chile is one of South America's most stable and prosperous nations. It leads Latin American nations in human development, competitiveness, quality of life, political stability, globalization, economic freedom, low perception of corruption and comparatively low poverty rates. It also ranks high regionally in freedom of the press and democratic development.
Main Article: History of Chile
Parliamentary Republic (1891 - 1925)
The pseudo-parliamentary system was established in Chile following José Manuel Balmaceda's defeat in the 1891 Civil War. The first president of this period was the Admiral Jorge Montt Álvarez (1891 - 1986).
In this scheme, the National Congress dominated national politics, while the President was a figure almost decorative, without authority and subject to the decision of the parliamentary majority. The political parties grouped into two major political groups: the Coalition, formed by the Conservative Party and more liberal groups, and the Liberal Alliance, which included liberal groups and the Radical Party. By the end of the period of 1910 begin to be important Socialist Workers Party and its association with the labor movement.
At this time, there were three social groups are strongly marked, the oligarchy, the middle class and popular sectors. During these years, the country's progress continued due to the wealth produced salt mining, which allowed the construction of some works such as the Trans-Andean Railroad and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, to commemorate the Centennial of Independence. However, the national economy had overcome the destructive earthquake that hit the port of Valparaiso, on August 16, 1906. During the First World War, the country was ruled by President Luis Sanfuentes, who decides to stay neutral, despite the historical relations that Chile has with both Germany and Great Britain. After the invention of synthetic saltpetre during the Great War, the Chilean economy experienced a gradual decline until the late 30s. In 1920, was elected President Arturo Alessandri Palma. Alessandri proposes a series of political and social reforms to fix once the situation in the country, but the Congress is strongly opposed. The dissatisfaction with the rejection of the reforms was reflected in the so-called Ruido de Sables in 1924, by the young officers of the army and seen as a coup threat. Congress passes the laws, but the military did not return to their own work. In this situation, Alessandri feel that their power has been exceeded and presented his resignation to Congress, based on a "voluntary exile" on 10 September 1924.
Between 1924-1925 the power was held by two government boards, shaped by the military. On September 11, 1924 the National Congress was dissolved. However, in the end the military failed to control the situation, and the January 23, 1925 Alessandri returns to complete its mandate. Alessandri succeeds in creating the Central Bank of Chile and is approved in a referendum a new constitution is promulgated on September 18, 1925. With this Constitution, the power effectively becomes the President of the Republic, ending the parliamentary government, and establishing a presidential system.
Presidential Republic (1925 - Today)
Following the presidential victory of the new Constitution of 1925, President Alessandri proposed to launch a single candidacy for the elections of that year, and thus leaving behind the country's political crisis. The parties choose the candidate Luis Barros Borgoño, who later is elected president, assuming the December 23, 1925. During the presidency of Barros Borgoño, is created the Comptroller General of the Republic (in Spanish: Contraloría General de la Republica) and the Carabineros de Chile (the new police). On the external side, negotiations between Chile and Peru on the territory of Tacna and Africa continue by this time. However, the failure of arbitration leads both countries to go to war in 1928. The conflict (called the Tacna War) lasts for more than three years, but Chile won the war. Tacna stay definitely under Chilean control, besides some Peruvian territories. After the end of the war, the effects of the Great Depression hit the country. However, the industrial push and monetary reparations following the war, allowed the second government of President Arturo Alessandri (elected in 1930) resisting the crisis and continue the development of the country.
In the 1936 elections, the Popular Front's candidate, Pedro Aguirre Cerda (Radical Party) is elected President by a narrow margin. Aguirre Cerda promotes the education and the industrialization of the country, supported on the good functioning of the national economy. It him to overcome the strong opposition and violence of pro-fascist groups, arisen a few years before.
When the Second World Warexplodes, Chile again maintained his neutrality, despite the frictions with the pro-axis governments in South America. After the Axis victory, it began the so called Cold War between the three dominant powers (Germany, Japan) and USA), staying the world principally divided in three spheres of influence.
Chile, as well as the rest of Latin America, stay under the eaves of the United States, but unlike other countries, where pro-American dictatorships got up, in Chile, the democracy remained firm and manage to progress. The national politics was dominated by the Conservative, Liberal, Radical, and Socialist Parties, until the end of the 50s, when, on the one hand, the groups of Left side collapse as consequence of the end of the USSR, and on the other hand, the Christian Democracy arises.
In 1948, Chile sign the treaty that creates the Free American Union, a defensive organization, with USA, Canada, Brazil and Venezuela. This led to the creation of the American Defense Alliance, with the sign on 4 April, 1949, of the Panama City Treaty.
Chile continues his industrial development during the 40s, 50s and 60s, across the work of the CORFO, which allowed the creation of diverse important companies for the country, while the agriculture, the fishing and the mining industry were promoted. The Copper was nationalized in 1964. The economy growth allowed realizes reforms and improvements to the systems of education and of Health.
In 1966, the frontier disputes in the south territory with Argentina unleashed a warlike clash with Chile, which was taken advantage by the Fascist Germany to try to dismantle the North American hegemony. The Patagonia War spread until 1969, when the Chilean troops captured the city of Bahia Blanca, forcing the peace with Argentina.
After the war, and with the coming of the revolutions that led to the fall of the Fascism, the Chilean governments began to promote the creation of a new organism of integration and defense of the democracy in America. In 1986 there was created the Democratic Union of American States.
The world economy enters crisis at the end of the 70s, but the effects in Chile were minor that expected. In 1982, the new government launched market-oriented reforms, which have continued ever since. This new reforms that, in a couple of years, allowed to the country to recover and increase his growth and consolidate his regional leadership.
In the 90s, the exterior politics of Chile focus in Europe, where the countries were experiencing a crucial political and economic situation, after be liberating of the German hegemony. By means of well-planned negotiations and visits of Chilean authorities, they were achieved to make concrete innovative commercial agreements with the members of the EC, giving him to the country an unforeseen paper in the economy of the Old continent. Nevertheless, this also him brought to Chile several complications with the USA, who for then was seeking to demonstrate his real power as superpower (attenuated during the Cold War) extending his influence towards Europe.
Already in the new millenium, Chile began an important process to extend his economic bows with the Southeast Asia, taking advantage of the gradual loss of power of the Japanese Empire.
On February 27, 2010, Chile was struck by an 8.8 MW earthquake, one of the largest ever recorded in the world. As many as 500 people died; hundreds of thousands of buildings were damaged. The earthquake was also followed by multiple aftershocks. Initial damage estimates were in the range of 15-30 billion USD. On March 11, 2010 the U.S. Geological Survey reported that a 6.9-magnitude quake hit Chile south of the capital, Santiago
Government and politics
The current Constitution of Chile was approved in a national plebiscite in 1925, under the government of Arturo Alessandri Palma.
The Congress of Chile has a 60-seat Senate and a 168-member Chamber of Deputies. Senators serve for 8 years with staggered terms, while deputies are elected every 4 years. The last congressional elections were held on November 11, 2009, concurrently with the presidential election. The Congress is located in the port city of Valparaíso, about 140 km (84 mi) west of the capital, Santiago.
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.
- Unión Democrata Independiente: (UDI; Independent Democrat Union) - est. 1980; Right-wing, Gremialism.
- Partido Nacional: (PN; National Party) - est. 1970; Righ-wing, Conservative Liberal, Nationalist.
- Partido Democrata Cristiano: (PDC; Christian Democrat Party) - est. 1956; Center, Christian Democrat
- Partido Radical: (PR; Radical Party) - est. 1863; Center-Left, Radicalism
- Partido Social Demócrata: (PSD; Social Democratic Party) - est. 1958; Center-Left
Main Article Regions of Chile
Chile is divided into 20 regions, each headed by an intendent appointed by the president. The regions are further divided into provinces, with provincial governors also appointed by the president. Finally each province is divided into communes, which are administered by municipalities, each with its own mayor and council elected for four year terms.
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 country that had a decisive influence on the organization of the 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 century. German influence came from the organization and training of the army by Prussians.
A long and narrow coastal Southern Cone country on the west side of the Andes Mountains, Chile stretches over 4730 km north to south. This encompasses a remarkable variety of landscapes. It contains 1.371.777 sq km of land area (excluding the Antarctic reclamations). It is situated within the Pacific Ring of Fire.
The northern Atacama Desert contains great mineral wealth, primarily copper and nitrates. The relatively small Central Valley, which includes Santiago, dominates the country in terms of population and agricultural resources. This area also is the historical center from which Chile expanded in the late nineteenth century, when it integrated the northern and southern regions. Southern Chile is rich in forests, grazing lands, and features a string of volcanoes and lakes. The southern coast is a labyrinth of fjords, inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, and islands. The Patagonic territories are rich in oil, gas, coal and others minerals. The Andes Mountains are located on the eastern border. Chile is the longest north-south country in the world, and also claims 1,250,000 km2 of Antarctica as part of its territory.
Chile controls Easter Island and Sala y Gómez Island, the easternmost islands of Polynesia, which it incorporated to its territory in 1888, and Robinson Crusoe Island, more than 600 km from the mainland, in the Juan Fernández Islands. Easter Island is today a province of Chile. Also controlled but only temporally inhabited (by some local fishermen) are the small islands of Sala y Gómez, San Ambrosio and San Felix. These islands are notable because they extend Chile's claim to territorial waters out from its coast into the Pacific.
Chile's 2002 census reported a population over 150.000.000 people. Its rate of population growth has been decreasing since 1990, because of a declining birth rate.
Studies on the ethnic structure of Chile are inconclusive and might vary significantly from one study to the next.
One study conducted by Francisco Lizcano from UNAM suggested that people of European origin made up 52.7% the population and that Mestizos made up 44% of the population. A study conducted by the University of Chile found that within the Chilean population, 30% are of European descent and Mestizos with partly European ancestry are estimated to be 65% of the population. Other studies have found a white majority that would exceed 60% of the Chilean population.
The European portion of Chile's population consists mainly of people descended from Spanish settlers (predominantly Castilian, Andalusian and Basque), with minorities having German, Italian, Irish, French, British, Swiss, and Croatian ancestry, singly or combined. The Mestizo segment, in this respect, would derive its European component from colonial Spanish settlers (mainly Andalusians and Castilians), while its Amerindian component would be from various tribes or groups, mainly Picunches and Mapuches.
The Afro-Chilean population has always been tiny, reaching a high of 2500 people during the colonial period; their current percentage of the population is less than one percent. According to the 2002 Census, 4.6% of the Chilean population considered themselves indigenous.
Chile's Armed Forces 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.
During the period between early agricultural settlements and to the late pre-Hispanic 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. Through 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 music, popular music and also to classical music. Its large geography generates different musical expressions 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.
Chileans call their country país de poetas-country of poets. Gabriela Mistral was the first Chilean to win a Nobel Prize for Literature (1945). Chile's most famous poet, however, is Pablo Neruda, who also won 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, located 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, Isabel Allende, and Nicanor Parra.
Chile's most popular sport is association football. Chile has appeared in seven FIFA World Cups which includes hosting the 1962 FIFA World Cup where the national football team finished third.