You are on page 1of 15


Country Research
Mgt. 372.2
Draft 1. Including the Introduction, Culture, Economy, and

July 20, 2009

Geographical situation: 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. Chile's unusual, ribbon-like shape is about-- 4,300 kilometers (2,700 mi) long
and on average 175 kilometers (109 mi) wide. It contains 756,950 square kilometers
(292,260 sq mi) of land area. it is one of the only two countries in South America having no
border with Brazil. The Pacific forms the country's entire western border, with a coastline that
stretches over 6,435 kilometers. Chile is the longest north-south country in the world, and also
claims 1,250,000 km2 (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica as part of its territory.

Climate: The climate of Chile comprises a wide range of weather conditions across a large
geographic scale, extending across 38 degrees in latitude, making generalizations difficult. Chile
has given a 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. The northern Chilean desert contains great mineral wealth, principally
copper. Southern Chile is rich in forests and 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.

Natural beauty: 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.

Etymology: There are various theories about the origin of the word Chile. According to a theory
proposed by 18th century Spanish chronicler Diego de Rosales, the Incas of Peru called the
valley of the Aconcagua "Chili" by corruption of the name of a Picunche tribal chief ("cacique")
called Tili, who ruled the area at the time of the Incan conquest in the 15th century. 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. Other theories say Chile may derive its
name from the indigenous Mapuche word chilli, which may mean "where the land ends, "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. The Spanish conquistadors heard about this name from the
Incas, and the few survivors of Diego de Almagro's first Spanish expedition south from Peru in
1535-36 called themselves the "men of Chilli." Ultimately, Almagro is credited with the
universalization of the name Chile, after naming the Mapocho valley as such.
About 10,000 years ago, migrating Native Americans settled in fertile valleys and coastal areas
of what is present day Chile. A tribal group known as “INCA” briefly extended their empire into
northern Chile on that time, but the other tribal group called “Mapuche” successfully resisted
many attempts against the Inca Empire “Tupac Yupanqui” and his army. The result of the bloody
three-day confrontation known as the Battle of the Maule was that the Inca conquest of the
territories of Chile ended at the Maule River.
After a long period of time In 1520, “Ferdinand Magellan” discovered the southern passage now
named after him, “the Strait of Magellan”. Then in the year 1535, the next Europeans to reach
Chile were “Diego de Almagro” and his band of Spanish conquistadors, who came from Peru
seeking gold. After the passage of time hundreds of thousands of Native Americans from various
cultures in the area that modern Chile now occupies.
In 1540, the first conquest of Chile began and was carried out by Pedro de Valdivia, one of
Francisco Pizarro's lieutenants. He also founded the city of Santiago (the present capital of Chile)
on February 12, 1541. Although the Spanish did not find the extensive gold and silver they
sought, they recognized the geographical opportunity and the agricultural potentiality of Chile. In
1553 a massive Mapuche insurrection that began resulted in Valdivia's death and the destruction
of many of the colony's principal settlements. Subsequent major insurrections took place in 1598
and in 1655. And finally the abolition of slavery by the Spanish crown in 1683.
The drive for independence from Spain was precipitated by usurpation of the Spanish throne by
Napoleon's brother Joseph in 1808. A national junta in the name of Ferdinand—heir to the
deposed king—was formed on September 18, 1810. The junta proclaimed Chile an autonomous
republic within the Spanish monarchy. Intermittent warfare continued until 1817, when an army
led by Bernardo O'Higgins, Chile's most renowned patriot, and José de San Martín, hero of the
Argentine War of Independence, crossed the Andes into Chile and defeated the royalists. On
February 12, 1818, Chile was proclaimed an independent republic under O'Higgins' leadership.
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 Araucarias 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)
that left more than 3,000 people dead and missing.
Chile—at a glance

Country Name Republic of Chile

República de Chile (Spanish)
Anthem Himno Nacional de Chile (Spanish)
Motto “ Por la razón o la fuerza”
"By reason or by force" (Spanish)
Area - Total756,950 km2 (38th),
292,183 sq mi
-Water (%) 1.07²
Population - June 2009 estimate
16,928,873 (60th)
- 2002 census 15,116,435
- Density 22/km2 (194th)
57/sq mi
Deonym Chilean

capital Santiago
Official language Spanish
Monetary unit: Chilean Peso
Government -representative democracy
president -Michelle bachelet
Independence from Spain
1st national govt. junta September 18, 1810
Declared February 12, 1818
Recognized April 25, 1844

National symbols
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.
A long and narrow coastal Southern Cone country on the west side of the Andes Mountains, Chile
stretches over 4,630 kilometres (2,880 mi) north to south, but only 430 kilometres (265 mi) at its widest
point east to west. This encompasses a remarkable variety of landscapes. It contains 756,950 square
kilometres (292,260 sq mi) of land area. It consists of 22 Cities, 563 provinces & regions, and 2
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 north-south country in the
world, and also claims 1,250,000 km2 (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica as part of its territory.
However, this latter claim is suspended under the terms of the Antarctic Treaty, of which Chile is
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 kilometres (370 mi) 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
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, 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 [131]. 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. Between 1950 and 1970 appears a rebirth in folk music leading
by groups such as Inti-Illimani, Los de Ramon, Los Cuatro Cuartos and Los Huasos Quincheros
among others [132] with composers such as Raul de Ramon, Violeta Parra, Nicanor Molinare and
others [133]. 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 such as
Victor Jara, and by the folk singer and researcher on folklore and Chilean ethnography, Margot
Chileans call their country país de poetas—country of poets.[134][135]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.
Chilean 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 has appeared in seven FIFA
World Cups which includes hosting the 1962 FIFA World Cup where the 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, a bronze medal at the
2000 Summer Olympics and two third places finishes in the FIFA under-17 and under-20 youth
tournaments. 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 46 national
tournaments and three international championships, including the coveted Copa Libertadores
South American club tournament.[citation needed]
Tennis is the country's most successful sport. 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), seven silver medals (athletics,
Equestrian, boxing, shooting and tennis) 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.
Polo is professionally practiced within Chile and in 2008 Chile achieved top prize in the World
Polo Championship a tournament where the country has earned both second and third places
medals in previous editions.
Basketball is a popular sport in which Chile has earned a bronze medal in the first men's FIBA
World Championship held in 1950 and winning a second bronze medal when Chile hosted the
1959 FIBA World Championship. Chile hosted the first FIBA World Championship for Women
in 1953 finishing the tournament with the silver medal.
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 number from the United States, Europe, and Brazil
with a growing number of Asians from South Korea and PR China.[137]
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, the altiplano lakes, and 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 6,282 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 and Patagonia, which includes Laguna San Rafael
National Park, with its many glaciers, and the Torres del Paine National Park. The central port
city of Valparaíso, with its unique architecture, is also popular. Finally, Easter Island in the
Pacific Ocean is one of the main Chilean tourist destinations.
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. Because of its proximity to Santiago, the coast of the Valparaíso Region, with its many
beach resorts, receives the largest number of tourists. Viña del Mar, Valparaíso's northern
affluent neighbor, is popular because of 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.
Natural wonders of Chile nominated by Natural 7 wonders
Atacama Desert(ice formation, landscape)
The Atacama Desert is a virtually rainless plateau in Chile, covering a 600 mile strip of land on the
Pacific coast of South America, west of the Andes mountains. The rain shadow on the leeward side of the
Andes keeps this over 20 million-year-old desert 50 times drier than the California’s Death Valley. It is
the second-driest desert in the world. The Atacama occupies 70,000 square miles in northern Chile,
composed mostly of salt basins, sand, and lava flows.
Osorno, Volcano(Mountains , volcanos)
Osorno is a 2,652 m tall conical stratovolcano lying in Los Lagos, a region of Chile. It stands on the
southeastern shore of Lake Llanquihue, and is known worldwide as a symbol of the local landscape. It is
noted for its similar appearance to Mount Fuji. Osorno is one of the most active volcanoes of the southern
Chilean Andes, with 11 historical eruptions recorded between 1575 and 1869. The upper slopes of the
volcano are almost entirely covered in glaciers. Paine Towers, Mountain
Paine Towers is a small but spectacular mountain group in Paine Towers National Park in Chilean,
Patagonia. They are gigantic granite monoliths shaped by the forces of glacial ice, with peaks of over
2,600 meters.
Antuco, Volcano
Antuco is a stratovolcano in the Bio-Bio region of Chile, on the shore of the Laguna del Laja lake. It rises
2,985 meters above sea level and has snow on its peak throughout the year. Many different kinds of
forests grow on its slopes.
El Tatio, Volcano
El Tatio is located within the Andes Mountains of nothern Chile at 4,200 meters above the mean sea
level. With over 80 active geysers, El Tatio is the largest geyser field in the southern hemisphere and the
third largest field in the world. “El Tatio" is roughly translated to "the grandfather”.
Milodon, Cave(Caves, rock formation, vallies)
Milodon Cave is a Natural Monument located in the Chilean Patagonia, 24 km northwest of Puerto
Natales and 270 km north of Punta Arenas. It comprises three caves and a rocky formation called Silla de
Diablo (Devil's Chair). The monument is notable for the discovery in 1896 of skin, bones and other parts
of a giant ground sloth called Mylodon.
Rapa Nui, National Park (Forest)
Rapa Nui National Park is located on Easter Island, Chile. The park is divided into seven sections. Chile
first declared the island to be a National Park in 1935. Park boundaries have since varied on several
occasions in order to return land to the islanders.
San Rafael Lagoon (Seashore)
San Rafael Lagoon is an arc-shaped coastal lake located in the Aisén Region of Chile, within the national
park that bears its name. The lagoon was formed by the retreat of the San Rafael Glacier in the Northern
Patagonian Ice Field. Today, it is popular tourism destination, with ships sailing from Puerto Chacabuco
and Puerto Montt nearly every day to see ice falling from the glacier into the lagoon.

Key indicators 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013

Real GDP growth (%) 3.2 -1 2.2 2.7 3.4 3.2

Consumer price inflation 8.7 2.1 3.1 3.1 3 3
(av; %)
Central government 5.7 -4.1 -1.4 1.1 0.9 1
(% of GDP)
-2 -0.9 -1.1 -1.4 -3.7 -3.7
Current-account balance
(% of GDP)

Short-term lending rate 13.3 7.6 8.4 8.4 7.9 7.5

(av; %)
Exchange rate Ps:US$ (av) 522.5 574.3 562.8 560.7 540.9 521.8

Chile's economy is based on its rich mineral resources, on agriculture, which takes advantage of
the wide variety of climatic conditions, on its rich fishing grounds, and on industry. There have
been, however, much instability in the value of the most important minerals (copper, iron,
nitrate) mined in Chile and their contribution to the GNP and to the country's exports. These
depend largely on demand and prices in the world market and on Chile's ability to compete with
other mineral-producing countries. The exploitation of Chile's mineral resources is to large
extent in the hands of foreign, mainly U.S., companies. Mining plays a dominant role in central
Chile. Forestry, fishing, and mining are important in the south.
The fluctuation in the extend and value of the production of minerals has prompted the
development of industry and agriculture, especially for export.
The annual GNP per capita was $1,510 in 1988. It has only risen by $100 since 1978. Economic
growth over recent years has been, on the average, 4 to 5 percent annually. Inflation has been one
of the lowest in Latin America
Long regarded as Latin America's best-governed country, Chile has been tarnished lately by
allegations of corruption and the mismanagement of public funds. At first the amounts involved
were so small that they seemed to confirm the country's reputation for rectitude. Six years ago
there was an outcry when $20,000 went into the wrong pockets at the Ministry for Public Works
and Transport. The same ministry was later found to be using outsourcing contracts to boost the
salaries of its civil servants.
Since then, however, the scandals have come thicker, faster and, in some cases, grubbier. They
include charges of fraud, actual or attempted, in the government's sports-promotion agency, the
state passenger-railway service and, most recently, the civil registry.
Chile’s economy has recently seemed oddly lackluster, with growth below the regional average
and inflation stubbornly high. As a small, open economy it is uncomfortably exposed to the
world recession—the price of copper, its main export, has fallen by almost two-thirds since mid-
2008. But virtue sometimes has its reward. More than any other government in the region,
Chile’s is able to take action to stimulate the economy. Now it has done so.
Monetary policy has been aggressively eased in early 2009, with inflation falling from its 2008
peak back to target. With copper prices lower than in 2004-08 and GDP contracting this year, the
fiscal accounts will turn to a deficit in 2009-10, reverting to surplus thereafter. Chile will deepen
its integration with the global economy through free-trade agreements (FTAs) with its main
trading partners. FTAs with Panama, Peru and Colombia are set to follow and talks are ongoing
with New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, Ecuador, Malaysia, Thailand and Turkey.

Only 7.3 percent of the area is agriculturally productive. Arable land is concentrated mostly in
the Central Valley in central Chile. Agriculture in northern region is largely dependent on
irrigation in areas that are, in fact, oases. Agriculture is mainly engaged in the production of
cereals, fodder, sugar beets, potatoes, vegetables, and fruit.
Much of the fruit is exported during the northern winter to the United States, Canada and Europe.
Chile also produces and exports a large quantity of wine.
Livestock are raised, mainly in central Chile and the northern part of the southern region.
Approximately 16 percent of Chile's area is classed as permanent grizing ground. Forests cover
11.4 percent of the area, mainly in the southern region, from which 18.5 million cubic meters of
timber and pulp were produced in 1987.
Large estates (haciendas) occupy a substantial part of Chile's agricultural lands. These are
remnants of the Spanish colonial period, when extensive land grants were made to army officiers
and colonial officials. In early 1920s, nearly 90 percent of the farmland in central Chile was in
large estates. Although no official land reform has taken place, many of these estates were
broken up and sold as small farms. This process is still going on. However, much of the
agricultural land is still cultivated by tenants or by hired labor; 13.6 percent of the workforce is
employed in agriculture.

Chile is the world's largest producer of cooper. It has the world's most productive mine at
Chuquicamanta (in the northern region). Northern Chile also has rich, high-grade iron-ore
deposits, mainly in the Coquimbo area. Most of the ore is exported, and the rest is used by the
local iron and steel industry. Chile has the largest deposits of nitrate, in the Atacama Desert in
the north. The mining and exporting of nitrate (used for fertilizers and for the production of high
explosives) fluorished during the last quarter of the nineteenth and first quarter of the twentieth
Other minerals produced nowadays include: gold, silver, molybdenum, manganese, zinc, lead,
baixite, sulfur, and potash. Uranium, cobalt, antimony, and tungsten are also mined.
Oil and natural gas fields, near the eastern outlet of the Strait of Magellan and the northern coast
of Tierra del Fuego, produced 1,940,000 tons of oil and 4,358 million cubic meters of gas in
1986. In 1989 Chile's oil fields produced an average of 24,000 barrels per day. Coal production
was 1.3 million tons in 1986.


Chile's industry is largely based on local mineral resources, agricultural raw materials, and
forestry. Industries include copper refining, nitrate products, iron smelting and steel production
(in a large government-owned plant near Concepcion), oil refining, cement and various building
materials, chemicals, timber and pulp, furniture and various wood products, a wide variety of
food products, meat packing, fish packing and fish products, sugar, wine, and beer. There is also
a large textile, clothing, and leather industry. Industry is mainly concentrated in and around four
main urban centers: Santiago, the largest industrial center (in which 20 percent of the local labor
force is employed in industry), Valparaiso, Concepcion, and Valdivia.
Government policy encourages the establishment on new industries in sparsely inhabited regions,
especially in the south. Fifteen percent of the workforce is employed in industry.
The main trading partners are the United States (which takes 22% of exports and provides 20%
of imports), Japan (9 and 10 percent), Germany (10 and 8 percent), and Brazil (7 and 8 percent).
Cooper accounts for 42 percent of the exports, other minerals (gold, iron, nitrate, titanium, and
others) approximately 20 percent, fresh fruit 10 percent, fish and fish products 7 percent, and
pulp and paper 6 percent.

Form of government
Presidential system, based on 1980 constitution
The executive
The president, elected for a period of four years, is head of state and appoints the cabinet
National legislature
Bicameral legislature (Congress): a Senate (the upper house) comprising 38 members elected for
eight years and partly renewed every four years; and a Chamber of Deputies (the lower house),
with 120 members who are all elected every four years
Legal system
The 21 Supreme Court judges are appointed by the president from lists submitted by the
Supreme Court, and confirmed by a two-thirds majority in the upper house; 16 regional courts of
appeal and members of the lower courts are appointed by the Supreme Court
National elections
December 2005 (presidential and congressional), October 2008 (municipal); next elections
December 13th 2009 (presidential and congressional), October 2012 (municipal)
National government
Michelle Bachelet of the Partido Socialista (PS) heads the Concertacion coalition; she took office
as president on March 11th 2006
Main political organisations
Government: Concertacion Democratica (Concertacion) coalition, comprising the Partido
Democrata Cristiano (PDC), the Partido Radical Social Democrata (PRSD), the Partido
Socialista (PS) and the Partido por la Democracia (PPD). Opposition: Alianza por Chile (APC,
the Alianza), comprising Renovacion Nacional (RN) and the Union Democrata Independiente
(UDI); Juntos Podemos, comprising the Partido Comunista (PC), the Partido Humanista (PH),
and smaller radical groups

Political history
With the reestablishment of democratic government in March 1990, Chile was once again thrust
into the international limelight. In the early 1970s, the long, narrow country on the west coast of
South America had drawn widespread attention by electing a Marxist president, Salvador
Allende Gossens (1970-73), who was intent on forging a new path to socialism. Following
Allende's overthrow on September 11, 1973, Chile under military rule became notorious for
some of the worst excesses of modern-day authoritarianism.
Headed by General of the Army Augusto Pinochet Ugarte (1973- 90), the dictatorship was
widely reviled for ending Chile's tradition of democratic politics and committing numerous
violations of human rights. Although isolated politically, Chile's military government earned
international acclaim for far-reaching economic and social reforms that transformed the country's
state-oriented economy into one of the most open economic systems in the developing world.
The economic reforms of the late 1970s and 1980s set the foundation for extraordinary
investment and growth in the early 1990s. Economic progress, combined with the return of
democratic politics largely devoid of the confrontation and polarization of the past, positioned
Chile to enter the twenty first century with increased prosperity in a climate of peace and
Chile's favorable situation developed because the military government's success at implementing
an economic revolution was not duplicated in the political arena. From the outset, Pinochet and
his colleagues had sought to displace the parties, politicians, and institutions of the past so that
they might create a nation of pliant and patriotic citizens, devoted to their private pursuits under
the tutelage of a strong and benevolent state with merely a façade of representative government.
However, the military commanders badly underestimated the strength of the nation's traditional
political parties and failed to understand the degree to which democratic practices and
institutions had become a fundamental part of Chile's national character. Indeed, Pinochet was
forced to abandon his plan for virtual life-long rule after a humiliating personal defeat in a 1988
plebiscite at the hands of the very civilian leaders whom he had reviled and persecuted. Their
resilience made possible the transition to democracy in March 1990 and the success of Chile's
first civilian government after seventeen years of authoritarian rule.
Chile's transition back to democracy encountered serious challenges. Although opposition groups
had vehemently rejected the Pinochet government's constitution of 1980 as illegitimate and
undemocratic, they were forced to accept the political rules and playing field as defined by the
military government in order to challenge its very authority. To a greater degree than most other
transitions to democracy in Latin America, Chile's was accomplished within the framework of an
institutional order conceived by an authoritarian regime, one that continued to define the political
game long after the return to representative government. Pinochet was unable to destroy his
adversaries or project his own presidential leadership into the future, but he succeeded in
imposing an institutional legacy that Chile's civilian elites would have to modify substantially if
Chile were to become fully democratic.

Timeline: Chile. A chronology of key events:

1535 – Indigenous Araucanian people successfully resist first Spanish invasion of Chile.
1541- Pedro de Valdivia begins Spanish conquest and founds Santiago.
1553 – Araucanians capture and kill Valdivia.
1810 - Junta in Santiago proclaims autonomy for Chile following the overthrow of the king of
Spain by Napoleon.
1814 - Spain regains control of Chile.
1817 - Spanish defeated by Army of the Andes led by Jose de San Martin and Bernardo
O'Higgins at the battles of Chacabuco and Maipu.
1818 - Chile becomes independent with O'Higgins as supreme leader.
1823-30 - O'Higgins forced to resign; civil war between liberal federalists and conservative
centralists ends with conservative victory.
1851-61 - President Manuel Montt liberalises constitution and reduces privileges of landowners
and church.
1879-84 - Chile increases its territory by one third after it defeats Peru and Bolivia in War of the
Late 19th century - Pacification of Araucanians paves way for European immigration; large-scale
mining of nitrate and copper begins.
1891- Civil war over constitutional dispute between president and congress ends in congressional
victory, with president reduced to figurehead.
1925 - New constitution increases presidential powers and separates church and state.
1927 General Carlos Ibanez Del Campo seizes power and establishes dictatorship.
1938-46 - Communists, Socialists and Radicals form Popular Front coalition and introduce
economic policies based on US New Deal.
1948-58 - Communist Party banned.
1952 - Gen Carlos Ibanez elected president with promise to strengthen law and order.
1964 - Eduardo Frei Montalva, Christian Democrat, elected president and introduces cautious
social reforms, but fails to curb inflation.
Pinochet dictatorship
1970 - Salvador Allende becomes world's first democratically elected Marxist president and
embarks on an extensive programme of nationalisation and radical social reform.
1973 - Gen Augusto Pinochet ousts Allende in CIA-sponsored coup and proceeds to establish a
brutal dictatorship.
1988 - Gen Pinochet loses a referendum on whether he should remain in power.
1989-90 - Christian Democrat Patricio Aylwin wins presidential election; Gen Pinochet steps
down in 1990 as head of state but remains commander-in-chief of the army.
1994-95 - Eduardo Frei succeeds Aylwin as president and begins to reduce the military's
influence in government.
Pinochet's aftermath
1998 - Gen Pinochet retires from the army and is made senator for life but is arrested in the UK
at the request of Spain on murder charges.
March - British Home Secretary Jack Straw decides that Gen Pinochet is not fit to be extradited.
Gen Pinochet returns to Chile.
Socialist Ricardo Lagos is elected president.
2000 onwards - Chilean courts strip Gen Pinochet of his immunity from prosecution several
times, but attempts to make him stand trial for alleged human rights offences fail, with judges
usually citing concerns over the general's health.
2002 July - Gen Pinochet resigns from his post as a lifelong senator.
2004 May - President Lagos signs a law giving Chileans the right to divorce, despite opposition
from the Roman Catholic Church.
2005 May - 45 young soldiers perish in a blizzard, prompting calls for an end to compulsory
military service.
2005 July - Senate approves changes to the Pinochet-era constitution, including one which
restores the president's right to dismiss military commanders.
2005 December - Presidential elections. Socialist Michelle Bachelet gains the most votes but
fails to win more than 50% support, forcing a second-round vote against conservative billionaire
and former senator Sebastian Pinera.
2006 January - Michelle Bachelet wins the second round of presidential elections to become
Chile's first woman president and the fourth consecutive head of state from the centre-left
Concertacion coalition. She takes office in March.
2006 August - Chile and China sign a free-trade deal, Beijing's first in South America.
2006 December - Pinochet dies.
2007 January - President Bachelet signs a decree allowing the morning-after contraceptive pill to
be given to girls as young as 14 without their parents' consent.
2007 March - Ongoing protests in the capital Santiago over chaos following the introduction of a
new transport system.
2007 June - Government agrees to pay compensation to the families of 12 victims of Pinochet.
2008 January - Peru files a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice in a bid to settle a long-
standing dispute over maritime territory with neighbouring Chile.
2008 May - Unexpected eruption of Chaiten volcano which has been dormant for 9,000 years.
Authorities order complete evacuation of two towns in Patagonian region.
2008 September - Emergency declared in parts of southern Chile where eight people were killed
in torrential rain and widespread flooding.
2008 October - Local elections signal that the political right, long out of office in Chile, may be
gaining ground ahead of next year's presidential poll.
2009 February - President Bachelet makes the first visit to Cuba by a Chilean leader in almost
four decades.

Related Interests