1 a republic in southern South America on the western slopes of the Andes on the south Pacific coast [syn: Republic of Chile]
2 very hot and finely tapering pepper of special pungency [syn: chili, chili pepper, chilli, chilly]
EtymologyFrom Quechua chili, "the end of the world".
country in South America
- Arabic: (Ší: li)
- Bosnian: Čile
- Breton: Chile
- Bulgarian: Чили
- Chinese: 智利 (Zhìlì)
- Croatian: Čile
- Czech: Chile
- Danish: Chile
- Dutch: Chili
- Esperanto: Ĉilio
- Estonian: Tšiili
- Finnish: Chile
- French: Chili
- German: Chile
- Greek: Χιλή (Chilí)
- Hebrew: צ'ילה (chile)
- Hungarian: Chile
- Interlingua: Chile
- Italian: Cile
- Japanese: チリ
- Korean: 칠레 (Chille)
- Maltese: iċ-Ċilì
- Norwegian: Chile
- Polish: Chile
- Portuguese: Chile
- Romanian: Chile
- Russian: Чили
- Sicilian: Cili
- Slovene: Čile
- Spanish: Chile
- Swedish: Chile
- Turkish: Şili
- Volapük: Cilän
Nounchile (plural: chillun)
- defn English
EtymologySpelling representing a Black pronunciation of child.
- (Black) Child.
- Hyphenation: Chi·le
Chile, officially the Republic of Chile (Spanish: República de Chile), is a country in South America occupying a long and narrow coastal strip wedged between the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage at the country's southernmost tip. It is one of only two countries in South America that does not have a border with Brazil. The Pacific forms the country's entire western border, with a coastline that stretches over 6,435 kilometres. Chilean territory extends to the Pacific Ocean which includes the overseas territories of Juan Fernández Islands, the Sala y Gómez islands, the Desventuradas Islands and Easter Island located in Polynesia. Chile claims of territory in Antarctica.
Chile's unusual, ribbon-like shape —4,300 km long and on average 175 km wide— has given it a hugely varied climate, ranging from the world's driest desert - the Atacama - in the north, through a Mediterranean climate in the centre, to a snow-prone Alpine climate in the south, with glaciers, fjords and lakes.
Prior to the coming of the Spanish in the 16th century, northern Chile was under Inca rule while Araucanian Indians (also known as Mapuches) 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 Araucanian Indians were completely subjugated. The country, which had been relatively free of the coups and arbitrary governments that blighted the South American continent, endured a 17 year military dictatorship (1973-1990), one of the bloodiest in 20th-century Latin America that left more than 3,000 people dead and missing.
Currently, Chile is one of South America's most stable and prosperous nations. It also ranks high regionally in freedom of the press, human development and democratic development. (See the International rankings section below for more details and references.) Its status as the region's richest country in terms of gross domestic product per capita (at market prices and purchasing power parity) is countered by its high level of income inequality, as measured by the Gini index.
There are various theories about the origin of the word Chile. According to one theory the Incas of Peru, who had failed to conquer the Araucanians, called the valley of the Aconcagua "Chili" by corruption of the name of a tribal chief ("cacique") called Tili, who ruled the area at the time of the Incan conquest. Another theory points to the similarity of the valley of the Aconcagua with that of the Casma Valley in Peru, where there was a town and valley named Chili. "the deepest point of the Earth," or "sea gulls;" or from the Quechua chin, "cold," or the Aymara tchili, meaning "snow." Another meaning attributed to chilli is the onomatopoeic cheele-cheele—the Mapuche imitation of a bird call. military coup overthrew Allende on September 11 1973. As the armed forces bombarded the presidential palace (Palacio de La Moneda), Allende reportedly committed suicide. A military government, led by General Augusto Pinochet Ugarte, took over control of the country. The first years of the regime were marked by serious human rights violations. On October 1973, at least 72 people were murdered by the Caravan of Death. At least a thousand people were executed during the first six months of Pinochet in office, and at least two thousand more were killed during the next sixteen years, as reported by the Rettig Report. Some 30,000 were forced to flee the country, and tens of thousands of people were detained and tortured, as investigated by the 2004 Valech Commission. A new Constitution was approved by a highly irregular and undemocratic plebiscite characterized by the absence of registration lists, on September 11 1980, and General Pinochet became President of the Republic for an 8-year term.
In the late 1980s, the regime gradually permitted greater freedom of assembly, speech, and association, to include trade union and limited political activity. The right-wing military government pursued free market economic policies. During Pinochet's nearly 17 years in power, Chile moved away from state involvement, toward a largely free market economy that saw an increase in domestic and foreign private investment, although the copper industry and other important mineral resources were not returned to foreign ownership. In a plebiscite on October 5, 1988, General Pinochet was denied a second 8-year term as president (56% against 44%). Chileans elected a new president and the majority of members of a two-chamber congress on December 14, 1989. Christian Democrat Patricio Aylwin, the candidate of a coalition of 17 political parties called the Concertación, received an absolute majority of votes (55%).. President Aylwin served from 1990 to 1994, in what was considered a transition period.
In December 1993, Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei Ruiz-Tagle, the son of previous president Eduardo Frei Montalva, led the Concertación coalition to victory with an absolute majority of votes (58%). Frei Ruiz-Tagle was succeeded in 2000 by Socialist Ricardo Lagos, who won the presidency in an unprecedented runoff election against Joaquín Lavín of the rightist Alliance for Chile. In January 2006 Chileans elected their first woman president, Michelle Bachelet Jeria, of the Socialist Party. She was sworn in on March 11 2006, extending the Concertación coalition governance for another four years.
Chile's Constitution was approved in a highly irregular national plebiscite in September 1980, under the military government of Augusto Pinochet. It entered into force in March 1981. After Pinochet's defeat in the 1988 plebiscite, the Constitution was amended to ease provisions for future amendments to the Constitution. In September 2005, President Ricardo Lagos signed into law several constitutional amendments passed by Congress. These include eliminating the positions of appointed senators and senators for life, granting the President authority to remove the commanders-in-chief of the armed forces, and reducing the presidential term from six to four years.
Chileans voted in the first round of presidential elections on December 11 2005. None of the four presidential candidates won more than 50% of the vote. As a result, the top two vote-getters—center-left Concertación coalition’s Michelle Bachelet and center-right Alianza coalition’s Sebastián Piñera—competed in a run-off election on January 15 2006, which Michelle Bachelet won. She was sworn in on March 11 2006. This was Chile’s fourth presidential election since the end of the Pinochet era. All four have been judged free and fair. The President is constitutionally barred from serving consecutive terms.
Chile's bicameral Congress has a 38-seat Senate and a 120-member Chamber of Deputies. Senators serve for 8 years with staggered terms, while Deputies are elected every 4 years. The current Senate has a 20-18 split in favor of pro-government Senators. The last congressional elections were held in December 11 2005, concurrently with the presidential election. The current lower house—the Chamber of Deputies—contains 63 members of the governing center-left coalition and 57 from the center-right opposition. The Congress is located in the port city of Valparaíso, about 140 kilometers (84 mi.) west of the capital, Santiago.
Chile's congressional elections are governed by a binomial system that rewards large representations. Therefore, there are only two Senate and two Deputy seats apportioned to each electoral district, parties are forced to form wide coalitions and, historically, the two largest coalitions (Concertación and Alianza) split most of the seats in a district. Only if the leading coalition ticket out-polls the second-place coalition by a margin of more than 2-to-1 does the winning coalition gain both seats. In the 2001 congressional elections, the conservative Independent Democratic Union surpassed the Christian Democrats for the first time to become the largest party in the lower house. In 2005, both leading parties, the Christian Democrats and the UDI lost representation in favor of their respective allies Socialist Party (which became the biggest party in the Concertación block) and National Renewal in the right-wing alliance. The Communist Party again failed to gain any seats in the election. (See Chilean parliamentary election, 2005.)
Chile's judiciary is independent and includes a court of appeal, a system of military courts, a constitutional tribunal, and the Supreme Court. In June 2005, Chile completed a nation-wide overhaul of its criminal justice system. The reform has replaced inquisitorial proceedings with an adversarial system more similar to that of the United States.
Chile is divided into 15 regions, each of which is headed by an intendant appointed by the President. Every region is further divided into provinces, with a provincial governor also appointed by the President. Finally each province is divided into communes which are administered by municipalities, each with its own mayor and councilmen elected by their inhabitants for four years.
Each region is designated by a name and a Roman numeral, assigned from north to south. The only exception is the region housing the nation's capital, which is designated RM, that stands for Región Metropolitana (Metropolitan Region).
Two new regions were created in 2006: Arica and Parinacota in the north, and Los Ríos in the south. Both became operative in October 2007.
A long and narrow coastal Southern Cone country on the west side of the Andes Mountains, Chile stretches over 4,630 kilometers (2,880 mi) north to south, but only 430 kilometers (265 mi) at its widest point east to west. This encompasses a remarkable variety of landscapes.
At , Chile is the world's 38th-largest country. It is comparable in size to Zambia, and is about twice the size of Japan.
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 Andes Mountains are located on the eastern border. Chile is the longest (N-S) country in the world (over ), and also claims of Antarctica as part of its territory. However, this latter claim is suspended under the terms of the Antarctic Treaty, of which Chile is signatory.
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 from the mainland, in the Juan Fernández archipelago. Easter Island is nowadays 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.
The climate of Chile comprises a wide range of weather conditions across a large geographic scale, extending across 38 degrees in latitude, making generalisations difficult. According to the Köppen system, Chile within its borders hosts at least seven major climatic subtypes, ranging from desert in the north, to alpine tundra and glaciers in the east and south east, humid subtropical in Easter Island, Oceanic in the south and mediterranean climate in central Chile. There are four seasons in most of the country: summer (December to February), autumn (March to May), winter (June to August), and spring (September to November).
After a decade of impressive growth rates, Chile began to experience a moderate economic downturn in 1999, brought on by unfavorable global economic conditions related to the Asian financial crisis, which began in 1997. The economy remained sluggish until 2003, when it began to show clear signs of recovery, achieving 4.0% real GDP growth. The Chilean economy finished 2004 with growth of 6.0%. Real GDP growth reached 5.7% in 2005 before falling back to 4.0% growth in 2006. Higher energy prices as well as lagging consumer demand were drags on the economy in 2006. Higher Chilean Government spending and favorable external conditions (including record copper prices for much of 2006) were not enough to offset these drags. For the first time in many years, Chilean economic growth in 2006 was among the weakest in Latin America. GDP expanded 5.1% in 2007.
High domestic savings and investment rates helped propel Chile's economy to average growth rates of 8% during the 1990s. The privatized national pension system (AFP) has encouraged domestic investment and contributed to an estimated total domestic savings rate of approximately 21% of GDP. However, the AFP is not without its critics, who cite low participation rates (only 55% of the working population is covered), with groups such as the self-employed outside the system. There has also been criticism of the inefficiency and high costs due to a lack of competition among pension funds. Critics cite loopholes in the use of pension savings through lump sum withdraws for the purchase of a second home or payment of university fees as fundamental weaknesses of the AFP. The Bachelet administration plans substantial reform, but not an overhaul, of the AFP during the next several years. Wages have risen faster than inflation as a result of higher productivity, boosting national living standards. The percentage of Chileans with household incomes below the poverty line—defined as twice the cost of satisfying a person's minimal nutritional needs—fell from 45.1% in 1987 to 13.7% in 2006, according to government polls. Critics in Chile, however, argue true poverty figures are considerably higher than those officially published, due to the government's use of an outdated 1987 household budget poll, updated every 10 years. According to these critics, using the 1997 household budget data, the poverty rate rises to 29%. Using the relative yardstick favoured in many European countries, 27% of Chileans would be poor, according to Juan Carlos Feres of the ECLAC. Despite enjoying a comparatively higher GDP and more robust economy compared to most other countries of Latin America, Chile also suffers from one of the most uneven distributions of wealth in the world, ahead only of Brazil in the Latin American region and lagging behind even of most developing sub-Saharan African nations. Chile's top 10 richest percentile possesses 47 percent of the country's wealth. In relation to income distribution, some 6.2% of the country populates the upper economic income bracket, 15% the middle bracket, 21% the lower middle, 38% the lower bracket, and 20% the extreme poor.
Chile's independent Central Bank pursues an inflation target of between 2% and 4%. Inflation has not exceeded 5% since 1998. Chile registered an inflation rate of 3.2% in 2006. The Chilean peso’s rapid appreciation against the U.S. dollar in recent years has helped dampen inflation. Most wage settlements and loans are indexed, reducing inflation's volatility. Under the compulsory private pension system, most formal sector employees pay 10% of their salaries into privately managed funds.]]
The growth of exports in 2006 was due mainly to a strong increase in sales to the United States, the Netherlands, and Japan. These three markets alone accounted for an additional U.S. $5.5 billion worth of Chilean exports. Chilean exports to the United States totaled U.S. $9.3 billion, representing a 37.7% increase compared to 2005 (U.S. $6.7 billion). Exports to the European Union were U.S. $15.4 billion, a 63.7% increased compared to 2005 (U.S. $9.4 billion). Exports to Asia increased from U.S. $15.2 billion in 2005 to U.S. $19.7 billion in 2006, a 29.9% increase. men and women who are responsible for law enforcement, traffic management, narcotics suppression, border control, and counter-terrorism throughout Chile. With the military coup of 1973, Chile became isolated politically as a result of widespread human rights abuses. By 2050 the population is expected to reach approximately 20.2 million. About 85% of the country's population lives in urban areas, with 40% living in Greater Santiago. The largest agglomerations according to the 2002 census are Greater Santiago with 5.4 million people, Greater Valparaíso with 804,000 and Greater Concepción with 666,000.
The bulk of the Chilean population features a considerably homogeneous mestizo quality, the product of miscegenation between colonial Spanish immigrants and Amerindian females (including the Atacameños, Diaguitas, Picunches, Araucanians or Mapuches, Huilliches, Pehuenches, and Cuncos). Chile's ethnic structure can be classified as 30% white, 5% Native American and 65% predominantly white mestizos.
Relative to its overall population, Chile never experienced any large scale wave of immigrants. The total number of immigrants to Chile, both originating from other Latin American countries and all other (mostly European) countries, never surpassed 4% of its total population. Croats have also immigrated to Chile and have formed a notable ethnic identity.
Currently, immigration from neighboring countries to Chile is greatest, and during the last decade immigration to Chile has doubled to 184,464 people in 2002, originating primarily from Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. Emigration of Chileans has decreased during the last decade: It is estimated that 857,781 Chileans live abroad, 50.1% of those being in Argentina, 13.3% in the United States, 8.8% in Brazil, 4.9% in Sweden, and around 2% in Australia, with the rest being scattered in smaller numbers across the globe.
CultureNorthern Chile was an important center of culture in the medieval and early modern Inca empire, while the central and 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 and Puerto Montt.
Music and danceThe 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. In the mid-1960s native musical forms were revitalized by the Parra family with the Nueva Canción Chilena, which was associated with political activists and reformers, and by the folk singer and researcher on folklore and Chilean ethnography, Margot Loyola.
LiteratureChileans 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 individualistic homes, located in Isla Negra, Santiago and Valparaíso are popular tourist destinations.
CuisineChilean cuisine is a reflection of the country's topographical variety, featuring an assortment of seafood, beef, fruits, and vegetables. Traditional recipes include cazuela, empanadas, humitas, and curanto.
Chile's most popular sport is association football (soccer). Chile hosted the 1962 FIFA World Cup and its national football team finished third. Other results achieved by the national football team include four finals at the Copa América, one silver and two bronze medals at the Pan American Games and a bronze medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics. The main soccer clubs are Colo-Colo, CF Universidad de Chile and CD Universidad Católica. Colo-Colo is the country's most successful club, winning 41 national tournaments and three international championships, including the coveted Copa Libertadores South American club tournament.
Tennis is the country's most successful sport and second most popular. Its national team won the World Team Cup clay tournament twice in 2003-04, and played the Davis Cup final against Italy in 1976. At the 2004 Summer Olympics the country captured gold and bronze in men's singles and gold in men's doubles. Marcelo Ríos became the first Latin American man to reach the number one spot in the ATP singles rankings in 1998. Anita Lizana won the US Open in 1937, becoming the first women from Latin America to win a grand slam tournament. Luis Ayala was twice a runner-up at the French Open and both Ríos and Fernando González reached the Australian Open men's singles finals.
At the Olympic Games Chile boasts two gold medals (tennis), six silver medals (athletics, equestrian, boxing and shooting) and four bronze medals (tennis, boxing and football).
Rodeo is the country's national sport and is practiced in the more rural areas of the country. A sport similar to hockey called chueca was played by the Mapuche people during the Spanish conquest. Skiing and snowboarding are practiced at ski centers located in the Central Andes, while surfing is popular at some coastal towns.
Tourism in Chile has experienced sustained growth over the last few decades. In 2005, tourism grew by 13.6%, generating more than 4.5 billion dollars of which 1.5 billion is attributed to foreign tourists. According to the National Service of Tourism (Sernatur), 2 million people a year visit the country. Most of these visitors come from other countries in the American continent, mainly Argentina; followed by a growing amount from the United States, Europe, and Brazil with a growing amount of Asians from South Korea and PR China.
The main attractions for tourists are places of natural beauty situated in the extreme zones of the country: San Pedro de Atacama, in the north, is very popular with foreign tourists who arrive to admire the Incaic architecture and the altiplano lakes of the Valley of the Moon. In Putre, also in the North, there is the Chungará Lake, as well as the Parinacota and the Pomerape volcanoes, with altitudes of 6,348 m and 6,222 m, respectively. Throughout the central Andes there are many ski resorts of international repute, like Portillo and Valle Nevado. In the south, the main tourist sites are the Chiloé Archipelago, Patagonia, the San Rafael Lagoon, with its many glaciers, and the Towers of Paine national park. The central port city of Valparaíso, with its unique architecture, is also popular. Finally, Easter Island in the Pacific Ocean is probably the main Chilean tourist destination.
For locals, tourism is concentrated mostly in the summer (December to March), and mainly in the coastal beach towns. Arica, Iquique, Antofagasta, La Serena and Coquimbo are the main summer centres in the north, and Pucón on the shores of Lake Villarrica is the main one in the south. Due to its proximity to Santiago, the coast of the Valparaíso Region, with its many beach resorts, receives the largest amount of tourists. Viña del Mar, Valparaíso's northern affluent neighbor, is popular due to its beaches, casino, and its annual song festival, the most important musical event in Latin America.
In November 2005, the government launched a campaign under the brand "Chile: All Ways Surprising," intended to promote the country internationally for both business and tourism.
The Spanish spoken in Chile is distinctively accented and quite unlike that of neighbouring South American countries due to the dropping of final syllables and 's' sounds, and the soft pronunciation of some consonants.
English language learning and teaching is popular among students, academics and professionals, with some English words being absorbed and appropriated into everyday Spanish speech, although they might seem unrecognizable due to Non-native pronunciations of English.
There are several indigenous languages spoken in Chile; Mapudungun, Quechua, Rapa Nui, Huilliche, Aimará, Kawésqar and Yámana. After the Spanish invasion, Spanish took over as the lingua franca and the indigenous languages have become minority languages, with some now extinct or close to extinction.
The national flower is the copihue (Lapageria rosea, Chilean bellflower), which grows in the woods of southern Chile.
The coat of arms depicts the two national animals: the condor (Vultur gryphus, a very large bird that lives in the mountains) and the huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus, an endangered white tail deer). It also has the legend Por la razón o la fuerza (By right or might or By reason or by force).
The flag of Chile consists of 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 representing a guide to progress and honor; blue symbolizes the sky, white is for the snow-covered Andes, and red stands for the blood spilled to achieve independence.
Chile is a traditionally Catholic nation, with an estimated 70% of Chileans belonging to that church. According to census data other declared denominations or groupings include: Protestant or Evangelical (15.1%), Jehovah's Witnesses (1%), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (0.9%), Jewish (0.1%), Atheist or Agnostic (8.3%), and other (4.4%). Less than 0.1% are either Orthodox or Muslim. (For the precise numbers of declared religions among the population ages 15 and over as indicated by the results of the latest census, see: 2002 Census data.) The LDS church statistics claim to have 543,628 members within Chile.
Notes and references
sisterlinks Chile wikiatlas Chile
- Gobierno - Government (English version)
- Congreso Nacional - National Congress
- Poder Judicial - Judiciary
- Banco Central - Central Bank (English version)
- Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas (INE) - National Statistics Institute
- Atacama, Chile Web Site
- Atacama Chile
- Open Directory Project - Chile directory category
- Several links compiled by LANIC
- Council of Hemispheric Affairs An independent source of Latin American News and Opinion
- Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports regarding Chile
- Invest in Chile
- Native flora species
- Chile travel ideas